This weekend’s Nebraska/Oklahoma matchup may seem lackluster at this point. The Cornhuskers are 1-2 and head coach Scott Frost has been fired, making Nebraska a 10.5-point underdog.
This means we have a bit of a disappointing revisit of what was arguably the biggest series of the Big Eight and early Big 12 era. The Sooners and Huskers first met in 1912 and have played 87 times, with Oklahoma holding a 46-38-3 series lead. Along the way, they played some great games. Here are the five best.
5. Oklahoma 23, Nebraska 20
Dec. 4, 2010 — Arlington, Texas
The last meeting between these two schools as conference opponents came in the Big 12 title game. Nebraska jumped out to a 17-0 second-quarter lead, but Oklahoma came back to tie it on a Landry Jones touchdown run with 1:37 remaining in the half. The teams traded field goals before a 27-yarder by Jimmy Stevens proved to be the difference in the win and deciding the conference champion.
4. Nebraska 17, Oklahoma 14
Nov. 11, 1978 — Lincoln, Neb.
The Big Eight title was on the line when the top-ranked Sooners rolled into Lincoln. Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims scored on runs of 44 and 30 yards but fumbled twice deep in Huskers territory. His second fumble came after he ran 17 yards to Nebraska’s six-yard line with 3:27 remaining, giving the Huskers their first win in the series in seven years. While the two teams tied for the conference title, they met for an unprecedented rematch in the Orange Bowl with Oklahoma winning 31-24.
3. Nebraska 28, Oklahoma 21
Nov. 26, 1983 — Norman, Okla.
The top-ranked Cornhuskers were 11-0, having steamrolled all of their opponents except Oklahoma State. The Sooners matched them score-for-score before Nebraska pulled ahead for good with a 17-yard touchdown run by fullback Mark Schellen late in the third quarter. Oklahoma drove down to the Huskers’ one-yard line late in the game, but quarterback Danny Bradley was sacked, and his final pass attempt was batted away with 32 seconds left.
2. Oklahoma 20, Nebraska 17
Nov. 22, 1986 — Lincoln, Neb.
Down 17-7 in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma completed its largest comeback of the Wishbone era. Quarterback Jamelle Holieway hit tight end Keith Jackson with a 17-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 1:22 remaining. The Sooners then forced Nebraska to punt and Holieway threw Jackson another pass, which he caught with one hand for a 41-yard gain with nine seconds left to set up Tim Lashar’s game-winning 31-yard field goal.
1. Nebraska 35, Oklahoma 31
Nov. 25, 1971 — Norman, Okla.
There was no question which game would top this list. The 9-0 Sooners had a Wishbone attack that averaged an NCAA-record 472 rushing yards per game, while defending national champion Nebraska was 10-0, having beaten each of its previous opponents by at least 24 points. This “Game of the Century” matchup lived up to its hype as the lead changed five times. A two-yard touchdown run by Nebraska running back Jeff Kinney put the Huskers up for good. This game was so good that avid football fan President Richard Nixon called both Nebraska head coach Bob Devaney and Oklahoma head coach Chuck Fairbanks after the game. The Cornhuskers went on to win their second straight national title, while the Sooners were ranked second.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.