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OU-NU: Rivalry to revelry
Castiglione wants to patch things up, starting with '71 game reunion

By Jake Trotter Published: August 4, 2008
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NORMAN — The last time Nebraska played at Owen Field, atypical bad blood spoiled the night.

Nebraska players accused OU of trying to run up the score; Sooner fans booed a futile Cornhusker field goal as time expired.


A Nebraska lineman popped a jeering OU Ruf/Nek during pregame warmups and was later charged, though found not guilty, of aggravated assault.

And Nebraska coach Bill Callahan hollered, " — hillbillies” as he slogged off the field after a 30-3 beating.

This season, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione is hoping to help put the 2004 game behind the two universities and restore grace and respect to the rivalry.

Castiglione is planning a reunion during this year's OU-Nebraska weekend for all Sooner and Husker players who participated in the 1971 "Game of the Century.”

Players from both teams who attend will be honored at halftime.

"After the last game, the type of comments that were made, the things that were said were so foreign to the rivalry,” Castiglione said. "I know rivalries have such an intensity to it people want to term the opponent the ‘hated rival.' But there is something that has transcended this rivalry, and that has been immense respect for each other. It was demonstrated many times before and many times after the '71 game.”

The Game of the Century pitted No. 1 Nebraska against No. 2 OU, or as Sports Illustrated wrote on its cover leading up to the game, "Irresistible Oklahoma Meets Immovable Nebraska.”

In a showdown that went back and forth, Nebraska came up on top, 35-31, on the way to a national championship.

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Oklahoma quarterback Jack Mildren makes a move during the Game of the Century on Nov. 25, 1971. Mildren died earlier this year. by George Wilson, The Oklahoman archive


The 2004 OU-Nebraska game didn't end well for former Nebraska coach Bill Callahan. Callahan's team lost 30-3, the coach hurled an insult at Sooners fans, and one of his players was charged (though later found not guilty) with aggravated assault over an incident involving one of the OU Ruf/Nek. by BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN archive

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