With Nebraska's 300th consecutive sellout coming in 2009d, I thought I'd use the opportunity to look back at some of the best battles that Memorial Stadium has hosted since the streak began against Missouri back on homecoming day of 1962.
As you would imagine, this list was extremely hard to narrow down, as there have been some epic clashes hosted in Lincoln. Granted, none have really happened this decade except one, but hey, let's not worry about the recent futility.
Great programs have had their ups and downs, but through it all, Huskers fans have shown a commitment to their team like no other in all of sports.
The criteria for the list: Extra consideration given to games where both teams are highly ranked, or where one team is in position for a national title and the other is in the spoiler role.
Fantastic finishes get notice as well, though there are a couple where the dominance of NU stood out against a team perceived to be stronger. I couldn't make a top 10 list, that was too difficult with all these classics. Rather, this is just 10 games in chronological order.
And yes, losses are included in this list, considering that having a wins-only clause would have kept out some Husker/Sooner classics. Any other games you feel warranted a spot, feel free to comment.
This game may not immediately pop into the memory of us younger Huskers fans (it certainly didn't for me), but it stands out for a few reasons. The date of the game: November 23rd, 1962. The previous day, John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, and officials debated into the night on Friday evening whether or not to have the game.
In addition to OU, fans, and TV and media personnel having already traveled to Lincoln for the game, the Sooners had a game scheduled the next week, and as a result, could not reschedule the Nebraska game.
It was determined that the game would be played, but without pregame ceremonies of any kind.
Nebraska thoroughly dominated the Sooners before OU tacked on a couple of late touchdowns to make it a respectable 29-20 win for NU.
By beating OU, Bob Devaney and the Huskers won the school's first conference championship in 23 years, giving birth to the beginning of NU's incredible run of consistency.
Leading the Sooners 17-7 at the end of the third, the Huskers, in what would become the norm over the next 15 years, watched the Sooners snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in heartbreaking fashion.
OU scored on a 50-yard run three minutes into the final quarter to narrow it to 17-14. With 3:30 left in the game and deep in their own territory, OU used something seen rarely from their conservative wishbone offense: the forward pass.
OU handed off to Woodie Shepard, who pulled up and threw a 47-yard bomb to split end Steve Rhodes. The play moved the ball from the Oklahoma 16-yard line to the Nebraska 35.
After that play, the Blackshirts got OU to third and 19, making it likely the best OU would get would be a tie. Again, the Sooners passed to Rhodes, who lateraled to Elvis Peacock coming around the left side.
Peacock carried it 32 yards to the 2 yard line, and scored on the next play, sealing the game with just 38 seconds left.
Having lost the season opener to Washington State, Husker fans were beginning to wonder if Osborne would ever fulfill the lofty expectations set by his predecessor Bob Devaney.
In the four years since Devaney had retired, Osborne had guided the team to three 9-win campaigns and a lone 10-win season, but after winning two national titles to begin the decade, NU fans were less than impressed.
Which is why the game against Bear Bryant and Alabama was so important. The Crimson Tide came into the game as the fourth-ranked team in the nation, and would eventually finish second. Their lone loss? To the Huskers in this classic.
The game see-sawed throughout, with the teams going into the half knotted at 17 apiece. Nebraska RB Rick Berns, who finished the game with 128 rushing yards, scored with 7:12 left in the fourth to put the Huskers up for good, 31-24.
In a game that pitted No. 4 Nebraska against No. 1 Oklahoma, the Sooners came in with their eye on a potential berth in the National Championship game.
The Blackshirts, playing against a vaunted attack that featured eventual Heisman winner Billy Sims, forced nine fumbles, six of which they recovered. In typical Husker vs. Sooner fashion, the game came down to the end with OU driving for the potential winning score.
The Huskers forced Sims to fumble at the NU 3-yard line with just over three minutes to play, and Nebraska prevailed 17-14.
This game was the ninth time in the past 10 years that Nebraska and Oklahoma had met for the outright conference title, a theme that would carry on through the 1980s.
And unfortunately for Huskers fans, this game was the same old story, as OU won the game after J.C. Watts (pictured above) led OU on a drive capped by George "Buster" Rhymes' TD run with 56 seconds left.
And yes, I found it funny that there was a guy nicknamed Buster Rhymes back then.
That said, I don't know how Huskers fans dealt with the disappointment of being so close so many times, only to have OU steal it from them.
This is why the Big 12 sucks: it effectively ruined this rivalry for the younger generations.
The Sooners, led by Osborne's polar opposite in Barry Switzer, had a knack for coming into Lincoln and stealing games in the most heartbreaking of ways. In this particular matchup both OU and Nebraska were ranked in the top five.
In typical OU fashion, the Sooners, who were down seven, went 94 yards in 11 plays to tie it at 17-all with 1:26 to play. Nebraska, unable to get a first down, was forced to punt.
Facing third down, Sooner quarterback Jamelle Holieway threw to Keith Jackson, who hauled in a ONE-HANDED catch that netted OU 41 yards, enabling them to kick the winning field goal.
Sooner Magic strikes again.
In the 150th sellout of the streak, No. 3 UCLA (led by Troy Aikman) came to town for a much-ballyhooed preseason matchup. Despite the hype and an unusually anemic ground game that day (only 117 yards rushing), Nebraska rolled the Bruins, building a 42-17 lead late in the game thanks to Steve Taylor (pictured above) tossing a Big Eight record five touchdown passes.
UCLA tacked on a few late touchdowns to make the final score a more respectable 42-33.
The Huskers won their next seven games, setting up another No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup with Oklahoma for the conference title, a game that was dubbed "Game of the Century II". It failed to live up to the hype, as OU won 17-7, securing their fourth straight conference title.
Now you see why I put UCLA on the list: If I did just the Oklahoma games, there'd be too many losses for me to stomach.
For the first time ever, two teams with an identical ranking in the AP poll were to meet in the regular season. No. 8 Colorado came to Lincoln with a defense ranked in the top 20 in nearly every defensive category, and they were going against a freshmen quarterback by the name of Tommie Frazier.
So obviously, it was a bit surprising when Nebraska ran roughshod over them on a cold and rainy homecoming night.
Calvin Jones (pictured above) ran for 101 yards and three touchdowns, and the Huskers rolled up 428 yards of offense compared to 144 yards for Colorado, who saw their 25-game conference winning streak snapped in the 52-7 loss.
In the 200th consecutive sellout of Memorial Stadium, Colorado came to the Huskers' Homecoming as the No. 2 ranked team in the country.
A team that featured Kordell Stewart, Rashan Salaam, and Michael Westbrook, the Buffaloes came in as the favorite, despite the fact that Nebraska was ranked 3rd in the country.
With Tommie Frazier out, not many people were giving the Huskers much of a chance, but Brook Berringer came in and directed the offense with precision and accuracy, staking NU to a 24-0 lead it would not relinquish.
Colorado, despite all that offensive firepower, managed only seven points and was held 200 yards under its season average.
The 24-7 victory vaulted the Huskers to No. 1 in the polls over Penn State, where they would stay and claim their first National Championship under Tom Osborne.
"1st down and 10....On the end around, the double reverse....and they're gonna throw off of it!!....CROUCH IS OPEN! HE'S GOT IT!...FOOTRACE TO THE END ZONE, THEY WON'T CATCH HIM!.......All he didn't do is pose for the Heisman down in the end zone there, folks!"
For many Husker fans, this memory is bittersweet. If Devaney's conference title win in '63 is one bookend in the era of Nebraska's dynasty, this is the other, the last real memory of relevance and power.
We haven't beaten a top-15 team since, but that aside, this highlight will always be one of my fondest as a Nebraska fan. Besides, with Bo in command, I'm confident it won't be long before we're winning games like these again.