The game that Joe Castiglione has nurtured for almost a decade has come to fruition. The brainchild of his years of planning is here.
And yet, Oklahoma-Nebraska is both greater than and less than just one nostalgic non-conference game.
On one hand, the 2021 version of OU-Nebraska represents a taste of what sold generations of fans on the greatness of the game: decades of sustained excellence. Over a 48-year reign from 1963 to 2010, either OU or Nebraska won the Big Eight or the Big 12 a total of 44 times. No two schools have ever dominated a league like that. They also won a total of nine national championships during that stretch. The 1971 “Game of the Century,” featuring No. 1 NU vs. No. 2 OU, was just a sampling of the dueling dynasties.
On the other hand, the Sooners are competing for a national championship this year, and OU’s path to the playoff can be made easier two ways: by dominating a middling Nebraska team, and by hoping these Cornhuskers really aren’t all that middling.
Nebraska comes in 2-1, but with victories over cupcakes Fordham and Buffalo. NU’s opening loss to Illinois was followed by the Illinis’ back-to-back losses to UTSA and Virginia. Not a good look.
If fourth-year Nebraska coach Scott Frost takes a licking in Norman and then can’t get his act together against a rugged Big Ten schedule — Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa all have bigger fangs than the Huskers right now — the Sooners’ non-conference schedule will look even less impressive to the playoff committee.
OU is a 22.5-point favorite Saturday, according to SI Sportsbook. If Nebraska really is still in rebuild mode under Frost, it would serve Lincoln Riley and the Sooners to put on an impressive show Saturday and leave no doubt.
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