NORMAN — Clichés describe rivalries.
When certain teams play, you can “throw out the records” and “rankings don’t matter.”
When it comes to Oklahoma-Nebraska, their rivalry is different. The rivalry, when it was in peak form in the 1970s and 1980s, was always about records, rankings and, most importantly, championships.
From 1971-1988, only twice was either team ranked lower than No. 11 for their traditional Thanksgiving weekend meeting. During that period, the winner claimed the old Big Eight Conference’s berth in the Orange Bowl 14 times.
It’s fitting the ninth-ranked Sooners (10-2) and the 13th-ranked Huskers (10-2) will meet for the final time as conference foes for what their rivalry has always been about — conference championships.
“Couldn’t be better. It’s really exciting,” OU coach Bob Stoops said Monday. “I grew up watching the series like everyone else. The tradition, the history, the rivalry. It goes back a long way with a lot of special players, coaches and games. To be a part of it in this situation is really special. It’ll be an exciting week.”
Stoops turned 50 this year. His passion for college football predates the formation of the Big 12 Conference (1996). People who followed college football prior to the 1990s have a certain gleam in their eye this week.
But the players who will be playing Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, weren’t around for the rivarly’s heyday.
“For me personally, I didn’t really grow up watching college football. I didn’t really watch Oklahoma-Nebraska,” Nebraska tight end Mike McNeill said. “For our fans, I know it’s a big deal. For this state, it’s a big deal.
I think in that essence, it’s big rivalry and it will obviously be a good game. As far as the way we’re looking at it, it’s just the next game on the schedule.”