OU v Western Carolina Football

OU’s Lincoln Riley talks to his team Saturday during the Sooners’ game against Western Carolina at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

It didn’t take long for the attention to shift to the Sooners’ upcoming game against Nebraska.

OU coach Lincoln Riley talked about it after the win against Western Carolina on Saturday, and addressed it again in his opening statement during Tuesday’s press conference.

“I think there’s been a lot of build up, and rightfully so. Talk about one of the greatest rivalries in the history of this game or [one of] the most influential rivalries, to get a chance to bring that game back to life here this year is a great opportunity.”

It’s a game Sooner fans have been anxiously waiting for since the home-and-home series was announced in 2012, and Riley knows it means more than a typical non-conference game.

He’s been working this week to educate his players on the history of the Battle of the Big Reds, and he’s excited for the latest installment in the rivalry.

“We know how significant it is to those people [who participated] throughout those years, and so we want to do a great job of honoring that by putting our best foot forward,” Riley said.

A few players on the Sooners’ rosters have direct connections to Nebraska. Reggie Grimes’ mom ran track for the Cornhuskers in college, and he grew up watching their football team as a kid.

But when Grimes committed to OU, his parents became OU fans.

“I think it’s a really cool, interesting little wrinkle in there,” Grimes said. “But at the same time, just taking it for what it is. It’s a very important game for [football], it’s a very important game for college football.”

Running back Eric Gray said he learned about the history of the rivalry from his dad.

“My dad is a big, big football fan. He just loves football. So I’ve heard of the... big rivalry of OU-Nebraska, like those being the two powerhouses back in the day, so I’ve definitely heard about it. He was mentioning it so it’s definitely gonna be a big game.”

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. Saturday in Norman.

• OU moves up in AP, Coaches poll: The Sooners landed at No. 3 in both polls after their 76-0 win against Western Carolina.

The team had fallen to No. 4 in both polls during the previous week after a close win against Tulane.

The Sooners are behind Alabama and Georgia, respectively, in both polls.

Iowa State dropped five spots to No. 14 after a 27-17 loss to Iowa on Saturday. Texas fell out of the AP Poll entirely after losing 41-20 to Arkansas.

Future Big 12 team BYU landed at No. 23 in the AP Poll. No other Big 12 team finished in the Top 25.

• Injury report: Riley announced Brian Darby will miss the Nebraska game, while Woodi Washington is doubtful.

Riley said a few other players are questionable and their status will be determined closer to Saturday.

• Kickoff set for matchup against West Virginia: The Sooners will play at least one night game at home during its conference slate this season.

The Big 12 announced the Sept. 25 contest between OU and West Virginia will kickoff at 6:30 in Norman on ABC.

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580

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