Nebraska, Oklahoma agree to 2021-22 football games
The schools announced Thursday they have signed a contract that will have the Cornhuskers and Sooners play in 2021 in Norman, Okla., and in 2022 in Lincoln, Neb. Both games will be in September.
"I think it's a great deal," said Johnny Rodgers, the 1972 Heisman Trophy winner from Nebraska. "So many people really miss Oklahoma and Nebraska because they kind of grew up with it on Thanksgiving. It was the most viewed of games."
The Huskers and Sooners played 71 straight seasons as members of the Big Six and Big Eight. The game decided the Big Eight championship 31 times in 36 seasons.
The teams moved to the Big 12 in 1996 and met twice every four years. Nebraska went to the Big Ten in 2011.
Oklahoma leads the series 45-38-3, having won the teams' last meeting 23-20 in the 2010 Big 12 championship game.
"Classic rivalries like Oklahoma-Nebraska are part of college football's historic fabric," Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "The ability to rekindle a fabled series between two tradition-rich programs and two extremely loyal and passionate fan bases was very important to both universities.
Of all the memorable Oklahoma-Nebraska meetings, the most talked-about one remains the 1971 "Game of the Century." Top-ranked Nebraska beat No. 2 Oklahoma 35-31 in Norman in what is still considered one of the greatest college games of all time. The Huskers went on to capture their second straight national championship.
The `71 game started a run of NU-OU games from 1971-88 in which both teams were ranked in the top 11 of The Associated Press poll in 17 of 19 meetings.
Rodgers, whose electrifying 72-yard punt return for a touchdown was the signature play of the Game of the Century, said he was sad when the rivalry ended.
"I'm glad we have all the good memories that can take us up to the next one (in 2021)," he said. "People still demand to see this game played. I guess that's why we're playing it again."
The 2021 game in Norman will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century.
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne, an assistant under Bob Devaney from 1962-72 and Hall of Fame head coach from 1973-97, participated in 36 of the 86 games.
"Those matchups were always played with great intensity on the field," he said, "but with a great deal of respect from both sides and among the fan bases."
Game dates are Sept. 18, 2021 in Norman and Sept. 17, 2022 in Lincoln.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he didn't know if he would be coaching in the games, but he's happy they're on the schedule.
"There may be some other old boy worried about that one," he said. "Hopefully I am. But, heck, I don't know... I think it's great. We've always played tough nonconference games, so why not bring back a rival and have a go at it a couple more times?"
Rodgers will be 70 years old when that first game is played, and he plans to be there.
"I look forward to being able to go," he said, laughing, "even though I might be wheeling my way into the stadium."