College Football
Oklahoma-Nebraska: A rivalry with a history of great memories
College Football

Oklahoma-Nebraska: A rivalry with a history of great memories

Updated Sep. 16, 2022 12:33 p.m. ET

There is a historic nature to the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry.

They're two of the most successful programs in college football history — Oklahoma's 930 wins ranks sixth all-time among FBS teams and Nebraska's 909 ranks eighth. They've had a host of legendary coaches, ground-breaking players and, of course, unforgettable moments.

It was 51 years ago, after all, that these teams met in what some still argue was the sport's "Game of the Century."


RJ Young, host of the "The Number One College Football Show," is an Oklahoman and longtime follower of the Sooners. He dove into the history of the rivalry on his podcast this week, asking followers to share their favorite memories from the series. He even shared one of his own.

Let's dive in.

Favorite memories from the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry

RJ Young discusses fan responses to RJ’s question, "What’s your favorite memory from the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry?"

2006 Big 12 Championship Game: Going freestyle

The No. 8 Sooners were 10-2 entering the conference title game against the No. 19 Huskers (9-3) that season.

Receiver Malcolm Kelly torched Nebraska, catching 10 balls for 142 yards and two touchdowns, including a 66-yarder from Paul Thompson that gave the Sooners a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. 

Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly carries the ball against Nebraska's Andre Jones during the 2006 Big 12 Championship on Dec. 2, 2006 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Oklahoma would march to a 21-7 victory and earn a trip to the Fiesta Bowl (By the way, that Fiesta Bowl would end up being one of the greatest games in college football history, courtesy of Boise State, but that's a story for another time).

For Young, though, the Oklahoma victory itself wasn't even what was so memorable. For him, it was more about Kelly's freestyle rap in the locker room after the game.

"I used to have the whole thing memorized," Young said. "I graduated high school in 2006, so this hit me different because I didn't expect any of that to happen in the locker room celebration."

Turning point for Oklahoma in 2000

For listener Judie, the top memory from this rivalry came on Oct. 28, 2000, when she said she rushed through her "ACT in Dale Tower to make time for the second quarter."

When you look back at that day, you can understand why the game was such a big deal. The Huskers were 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time, and their quarterback Eric Crouch would go on to win the Heisman Trophy.

The Sooners were good, too, however. Not only was Oklahoma 6-0 and ranked No. 3, but it had just beaten then-No. 2 Kansas State the previous week.

After Nebraska jumped out to a 14-0 lead, Oklahoma QB Josh Huepel led the Sooners on a 31-0 rampage the rest of the way in a 31-14 victory.

Oklahoma QB Josh Heupel runs past Nebraska cornerback Keyuo Craver during their game on Oct. 28, 2000 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT)

Young pointed out that the win also signaled a turning point in the rivalry.

"Oklahoma was sorry in the 90s," he said. "As a matter of fact, the 90s Nebraska teams are, that's maybe the best decade for any football team ever. We're talking about Tommie [Frazier], we're talking about Ahman Green, we're talking about Lawrence Phillips. We're talking about three national championships in [four] years (1994, 1995, 1997)."

The victory showed the fans that the Sooners "really are this good, and that was the first time it felt to me like OU was a national championship team," Young said.

The Sooners would cap that season with a 13-2 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl and a national title.

'OG Megatron'

For our final memory, follower Ben takes us back to 1986, when a burly tight end named Keith Jackson made the kind of play you don't often see in a run-dominant offense.

The score was tied 17-all with 18 seconds to play, and Oklahoma held the ball on fourth-and-12. Instead of kicking it away, coach Barry Switzer put his trust in quarterback Jamelle Holieway, who lofted a ball to Jackson. The 6-foot-3, 248-pound tight end hauled it in with one hand and rumbled 41 yards to set up a game-winning field goal.

"You do not expect that man to get the ball," Young said. "But as any Oklahoma fan will tell you, this is the best athlete to ever play OU football that nobody talks about anymore. A lot of love to Adrian Peterson, a little bit more to Kyler Murray. But Keith Jackson is, for the old heads, that dude."

Jackson would be a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988. He would play nine seasons for the Eagles, Dolphins and Packers, earning five Pro Bowl selections. He was First-Team AP All-Pro three times.

Keith Jackson led the Sooners with 15 receptions for 414 yards and five touchdowns in the 1986 season. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)

You can catch more of the conversation from "The Number One College Football Show" on YouTube, or by subscribing to the show on Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app.

Read more:

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- Panic time at Texas, Notre Dame, Alabama and more?

- How to bet Oklahoma-Nebraska

- At the top of college football, a familiar scene


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