For the first time since 2010, the Oklahoma Sooners and the Nebraska Cornhuskers will share the same football field.
When one of the most historic rivalries in college football history is rekindled in Norman on Sept. 18, it will represent the 87th meeting all time between the two former Big Eight powers.
Fans on both sides have had this date circled on the calendar since the home-and-home was announced by the two institutions, commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the "Game of the Century."
Unfortunately, 2021’s Battle of the Big Reds will be no "Game of the Century III."
Coming off a 3-5 season, Scott Frost has to this point been unable to restore his alma mater to its former glory.
Far short of returning the Cornhuskers to a national power, Frost hasn’t even been able to outpace his predecessor.
In his three seasons in Lincoln, Mike Riley posted a record of 19-19, greater than Frost’s 12-20 (37.7 percent) in his first three years on the job.
The architect of UCF’s high-flying offense, Frost has struggled to get his Cornhusker offense off the ground.
Last season, Nebraska averaged just 23 points per game, which ranked 12th in the Big 10. The lethargic unit took a few hits this offseason as well.
Oklahoma Sooners 2021 Schedule
- Sept. 4: at Tulane Green Wave
- Sept. 11: vs. Western Carolina Catamounts
- Sept. 18: vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Sept. 25: vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
- Oct. 2: at Kansas State Wildcats
- Oct. 9: vs. Texas Longhorns
- Oct. 16: vs. TCU Horned Frogs
- Oct. 23: at Kansas Jayhawks
- Oct. 30: vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
- Nov. 13: at Baylor Bears
- Nov. 20: vs. Iowa State Cyclones
- Nov. 27: at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Offensive linemen Matt Farniok and Brenden Jaimes both departed for the NFL, alongside running back Dedrick Mills who rushed for 1,141 yards and 13 touchdowns over his last two years for Nebraska.
Last season’s leading wide receiver, Wan’Dale Robinson, also departed, as he transferred back home to play for the Kentucky Wildcats this offseason.
Frost was able to add USC transfer running back Markese Stepp and Montana transfer wide receiver Samori Toure to try and paper the holes on the offense.
Stepp rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries last year for the Trojans, and Toure’s 87 receptions for 1,495 yards and 13 touchdowns were good enough for him to be named an All-American at the FCS level.
Quarterback Adrian Martinez will return to throw to Toure, as he completed 71 percent of his passes for 1,055 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions last season. Martinez was also the team’s leading rusher, totaling 521 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
With Nebraska bringing a young offensive line with few proven playmakers to face Oklahoma’s defense, it’s easy to see why the Cornhuskers attempted to explore their options to add a different opponent to the calendar.
But Frost’s offense only represents half of the battle.
On the other side of the football, the Cornhuskers are projected to return 9 of their 11 starters from 2020.
The 2020 ‘Husker defense was a middle of the road unit, allowing just over 29 points per game, which ranked No. 64 in the FBS.
Ben Stille and Damion Daniels return to anchor the defensive line, which saw improvements defending the run last year as the season wore on.
JoJo Domann returns at the nickel back spot, a difference maker against the pass last season.
At the linebacker spot, Will Honas and Luke Reimer also return, as the duo led the Cornhuskers in sacks last season.
The biggest loss will be All-Big 10 Honorable Mention Dicaprio Bootle at cornerback. A starter of 32 straight games, Bootle broke up five passes and registered one interception in 2020 to lead the secondary.
On paper the matchup looks lopsided, but any time Oklahoma and Nebraska get together, they are sure to draw the eyes of the country as one of the most storied rivalries in college football is renewed.
The Sooners lead the overall series 45-38-3, coming from a 17-point deficit in the 2010 Big 12 Championship Game to win the most recent meeting.