Long before the concept of a conference championship game came about, Oklahoma and Nebraska were staging their own, usually on Thanksgiving Weekend.
Seems appropriate the two will meet as conference rivals for the final time this weekend with another championship on the line.
â€œWhat would be more fitting?â€ Sooner coach Bob Stoops said. â€œTo have one more go at Nebraska-OU is going to be pretty good.â€
Since World War II, OU-Nebraska has determined Big 12, Big Eight, Big Seven and Big Six championship 20 times.
In that same span, Ohio State-Michigan is the only end-of-season rivalry that's staged more virtual or actual conference championship games.
Yet unlike Ohio State-Michigan, which sometimes generates the kind of vitriol seen in the Red River Rivalry, OU-Nebraska will be remembered as a rivalry of grace and mutual respect.
â€œIt's a great, wonderful, traditional game,â€ said former Sooner quarterback Steve Davis, who started in three OU victories over Nebraska (1973-75).
â€œI never felt there was any jawing out on the field. It was well-played, great respect. A very classy, tasteful, competitive rivalry game. A game I'm going to hate to see go.â€
The rivalry, however, has been going for awhile. After the inception of the Big 12, the Big Reds only played twice every four years during the regular season. And when they did play, it was in the middle of the season.
But OU-Nebraska still generated some unforgettable moments this past decade. The Sooners' 31-14 win over top-ranked Nebraska in 2000 still stands as Stoops' biggest â€” and for him, most memorable â€” regular-season win.
Nebraska's 20-10 victory over the Sooners in 2001 is right up there with any Husker win in the post-Tom Osborne era.
Yet the rivalry will always be defined by the 1971 â€œGame of the Century,â€ when irresistible Oklahoma met immovable Nebraska at Owen Field in a battle of the nation's No. 1- and 2-ranked teams for the Big Eight championship.
â€œLooking at that game unfold,â€ said Davis, who sat in Section 31 with his true freshman teammates, â€œit was unbelievable.â€
The showdown went back and forth, but quarterback Jerry Tagge led the Huskers on a late-game touchdown drive to give Nebraska the 35-31 victory. The game was so epic, Dave Kindred of the Louisville Courier-Journal wrote: â€œThey can quit playing now. They have played the perfect game.â€
â€œIsn't it fitting that the conference is going to end with an OU-Nebraska game?â€ Davis said. â€œIt's amazing.â€
Since World War II, the end-of-season rivalries that have staged the most virtual or actual conference championship games:
1. Michigan-Ohio State: 28 in the Big Ten.
2. Southern Cal-UCLA: 20 in the Pac-10 (and its predecessors).
2. (tie) Oklahoma-Nebraska: 20 in the Big 12, Big Eight, Big Seven and Big Six.
4. Texas A&M-Texas: 7, including six in the Southwest Conference and one for the Big 12 South Division title.
5. Alabama-Auburn: 6, including five in the Southeastern Conference and one for the SEC West Division title