When Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big 10, it effectively ended one of the greatest rivalries in the history of college football.
For years, the University of Nebraska and and the University of Oklahoma waged epic battles on the gridiron, often with national championship implications on the line.
There were many epic clashes between the two college football giants. Some of the notable games include the 1971 "Game of the Century" in Norman, which Nebraska won 35-31. The 1959 meeting in Lincoln in which Nebraska defeated Oklahoma to end the Sooners' 74-game conference winning streak. Also, the 2000 matchup in Norman, where Oklahoma throttled the No. 1 ranked Huskers, 31-14, en route to an undefeated, national championship season.
The term "rivalry" is defined as the action between rivals, which are simply defined as people who are competing for the same goal or objective.
Too often, people in the sports realm have made the term rivalry be one founded on hatred between two teams. However, that is something that has been added throughout the years by the fans themselves.
The best part about this rivalry between the Sooners and Huskers was that it was a true rivalry. There is not a lot, if any, hatred between the schools. There is pure respect and appreciation for the other program, no matter whether you wear red or crimson.
This rivalry contained some of the greatest players and coaches in the history of college football. When they went head to head, the outcome was predictable: An all-out war.
For the most part, the game between the two schools every year would be a very intense one. Sure there was always your occasional blowout, but it was consistently a close and hard fought contest.
Unfortunately, the formation of the Big 12 and North and South divisions cut the rivalry down to only two games every four years, but those games still lived up to the hype of their predecessors, especially the contests in 2000 and 2001 when both teams were ranked in the top three both times.
I was fortunate enough to witness this rivalry first hand, both in Norman in 2008 and in Lincoln in 2009. All the things I had heard about this historic rivalry were true, especially the respect that each school had for the other.
In 2008, members from the 1971 "Game of the Century" teams were introduced at halftime of the game. The Oklahoma fans in attendance at Owen Field gave as loud a standing ovation when Johnny Rodgers and Tom Osborne were introduced as when Barry Switzer and Greg Pruitt were.
In 2009, I made the trip to Lincoln with a couple of friends. I was simply blown away. First by the sheer love of Nebraska football that the fans had. Second by the respect that I was shown as an Oklahoma fan. I've never been in such a friendly environment at a sporting event. I would imagine that it would be difficult to find a more hospitable place.
Oklahoma will close out the rivalry leading the all-time series 44-38-3.
While future games between the two schools are not out of the question, there is no consistency that can be relied upon. Only time will tell when these two great programs will meet again.
So with a sad heart, we say goodbye to the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry, the TRUEST rivalry in the history of college football.
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