NORMAN — In the news conference following No. 8 Oklahoma's 52-7 rout of Kansas, coach Bob Stoops labeled his team's next game as “probably the most anticipated game since 2000 when Nebraska came in here.”
After practice Wednesday, Stoops expanded a bit on that, adding that he feels that way because that's “the overall feeling of everybody.”
Here are the five most anticipated home games of the Bob Stoops era, which began in 1999.
1. NEBRASKA, OCT. 28, 2000
By the time the Sooners reached this point on their schedule, they were ranked second in the BCS standings and a legitimate national-title contender in Stoops' second season. Nebraska came in ranked No. 1. Oklahoma hadn't beaten the Cornhuskers since 1990, and the Big 12 Conference's two divisions and scheduling had taken some bite out of the once-great rivalry. Oklahoma had an opportunity to be ranked No. 1 for the first time in years and the OU-Nebraska game felt like something special again. The Cornhuskers took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but quarterback Josh Heupel and Oklahoma exploded for 24 second-quarter points and went on to win 31-14. A little over two months later, the Sooners won their seventh national title.
2. NOTRE DAME, OCT. 27, 2012
The Sooners are 1-8 all-time against Notre Dame, which hasn't played on Owen Field since 1966. But that isn't the game in Norman the Irish are remembered for; in 1957, of course, Notre Dame left Norman with a 7-0 victory that snapped a 47-game winning streak that still stands to this day. Oklahoma traveled to South Bend, Ind., in 1999 — Stoops' first year on the job — and lost 34-30. The two schools worked to reach a deal for a home-and-home series, and finally did in 2007. Notre Dame went 16-21 over the next three seasons, but now that the Irish appear to finally be a true title contender again, the excitement surrounding Saturday's game has increased exponentially. Current players don't seem to know or care much about the Sooners' history with Notre Dame, but fans — and coaches, to some degree — are excited by the two traditional powers meeting. While downplaying the games from decades ago, Stoops did call the matchup “great for college football.” ESPN College GameDay will set up in the South Oval, creating even more excitement around the clash of teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings.
3. TEXAS TECH, NOV. 22, 2008