ARLINGTON, Texas — This game’s going to be missed.
The rivalry, too. The rivalry most of all.
Because it’s Oklahoma and Nebraska, and it’s the last go-round for the Sooners and Huskers for the foreseeable future, unless it’s for a national championship. And don’t be surprised if that happens, but who can possibly predict something like that?
Tonight marks the last scheduled game between two historic programs that, in large part, defined college football for a long time, and in a much larger part, defined themselves by their success, or lack of it, when facing each other.
No, it hasn’t been that way for a while. And still, when your historic yardstick flies the coup, well, it takes a piece of you with it. It just can’t be the same.
So that’s the biggest thing about tonight. But not the only thing.
It’s not just the end of OU-Nebraska.
It’s the end of the Big 12’s early-December big stage. It’s the end of angling an entire regular season to be the best in the South to go play the best in the North. It’s the end of an event that has served the Sooners very well. Even when it didn’t seem like it.
“You’re thinking, ‘What in the world are we playing this for,” Bob Stoops said of those seasons OU had national championship dreams, but first had to get through the conference title game
You remember 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2008?
Only the game never hurt the Sooners. Even when they lost so badly, in 2003, to Kansas State, they went on to play for the national championship at the Sugar Bowl.
This game has only helped OU.
“When you’re not in that (national championship) picture, for instance, this year,” Stoops said. “It’s incredibly exciting and it’s a game that you’re glad you have.”
Be honest, it’s a game the Sooner Nation has always been glad they have.
Simply being another game on the schedule serves most of the fan base. Who doesn’t want another game?
But playing the best the North has to offer, even when the North’s best wasn’t so great, always delivered something extra. It’s always been fun.
If it’s all about championships, isn’t bringing it down to one game best?
If OU wins the conference next season by winning the Bedlam game, will it even feel like it won the conference? Or will it only feel like Bedlam’s been won?
This game’s going to be missed.
The new 10-team Big 12, if they keep calling it that, will be unique and wonderful in its own way. Really, future Big 12 champions will potentially be more deserving than those of the past.
No longer can a schedule put somebody in the conference race.
But no longer, also, will the Sooners meet Missouri or Nebraska or Kansas State in Kansas City. No longer will they meet any of the above here in Arlington. No more trips to Houston, St. Louis or San Antonio to settle everything.
No more OU-Nebraska.
No more end-of-season, winner-take-all, hype-driven championship game.
It’s like old and new are retiring on the same night.
Might as well win it though.
Might as well finish what began three weeks ago against Texas Tech. Might as well win your way back to the desert, where maybe this time OU can finally get the BCS monkey off its back.
One more time, there’s so much to gain in a single night.
OU’s won six of them.
Might as well make it seven.
Clay Horning 366-3526 firstname.lastname@example.org