A Major Rivalry's Last Hurrah

OU-Nebraska has always been one of the nation's biggest rivalries.

It's always been a game with a lot at stake from conference to national championships.

It's always been a game characterized by gritty athletes and hard-hitting play on both sides of the ball.

Add all of that into the fact that it's the final matchup in the same conference between two old school rivals, and it's not just any ordinary game.

"Right, like Coach [Kevin] Wilson in our offensive meetings has said, you know, this is the last time Nebraska's going to be in the Big 12," said right tackle Eric Mensik. "So, you know, we've kind of talked about that and we've watched some clips about past games and stuff, so, you know, that nostalgia's still there, and we look back at that and appreciate what was done here. And so we kind of just want to continue that and finish it off with this game."

The rivalry has featured many classics.

In 1976, OU came back from a four-point deficit in the final five minutes to win 20-17, and the phrase "Sooner Magic" was coined from that contest.

"We watched the '76 Nebraska game, which was Nebraska was supposed to win, and OU kind of came back at the end and then scored and ended up beating them," Mensik said. "And so that was kind of an interesting game there and to see that."

In 1978, OU had a chance to win another national championship in the ‘70s, but Lincoln and the Nebraska Cornhuskers stood in the way when Sooner Heisman running back Billy Sims' late fumble sealed the deal for the Cornhuskers, who won 17-14.

In January 1979, Sims redeemed himself in a rematch between the two teams, rushing for 134 yards in 31-24 Orange Bowl victory.

And in 1980, Nebraska fans littered the field with oranges after scoring with 3:16 remaining to go ahead 17-14, but J.C. Watts and the No. 9 Sooners marched down the field to win it 21-17.

But no doubt, the most famous of all is the Game of the Century in 1971.

A brilliant comeback put the Sooners up three points in the fourth quarter, but Johnny "The Jet" Rogers broke an electric play to set up the 'Husker for their final score, and No. 1 Nebraska held off No. 2 OU in Norman back on that day.

Stoops, who's been involved in seven games against the ‘Huskers and mentioned there have been many defining moments in the series, said he recalls one that didn't go the way of the Sooners.

"So, I thought it was ironic--what was that, 2001 when we throw the dang throwback to the quarterback, got him wide open, and we underthrow it, and Nate [Hybl] slips trying to come back to it? And I'll be darned, Frank [Solich] doesn't call it a quarter or so later for them and it works--so I always thought that was, I don't want to say funny, but kind of ironic," Stoops said.

That's kind of the way the series has gone.

There have been many, "How did that happen?" moments.

And at least for a few years, this Big 12 Championship Game be the last of those.

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