Lets be honest here, this weekend’s Oklahoma-Nebraska game is nothing more than two old friends being forced to have dinner one more time who have nothing left to talk about and even less in common. Memories of show downs in the mom n’ pop environments of Owen Field and Memorial Stadium have given way for one last awkward reunion in the upscale Starbucks of venues, Jerry World.
The helmets will be the same, but that will be the only way for opposing fans to recognize their childhood rival. Nebraska is nothing more than a cheap imitation of the blue collar grit from my childhood and the Sooners haven’t changed much either; only updating the flash of the wishbone for the glam of the spread. The two will wear the same old outfits, fight over tortilla chips instead of oranges and write it all off as progress.
In many ways, the final meeting in this storied rivalry presents nothing more than the sad reality that maybe you just outgrow your friends. Nebraska was tired of trying to fit in with the upstart changes of the 21st century and Oklahoma is that cutting edge conformist that always seems to have the updated gear to cover up their petty insecurities.
Johnny Rogers isn’t fielding punts Saturday and Brian Bosworth won’t be lending run support either. When I think about Big Red vs. Big Red, I remember Keith Jackson tipped caches, double reverse passes to crush dreams, Tim Lasher dog piles, Steve Taylor’s mouth, Mickey Joseph’s lacerated calf, Andre Woolfolk circus catches and the smooth sailing of Patrick Collins down the near sideline.ABC is sure to bring up those memories while failing to convince me that this game is anything more than the right to play UCONN in a half empty stadium far away from home.
Physics reminds us chips don’t fly with the same velocity of oranges and my head reminds me that we said goodbye to this competitive friendship with Nebraska on a cold Lincoln morning in 2001. Nebraska won’t wear “red on red” uniforms Saturday like they did in the 80’s because you don’t summon help from the Gods to reinvent the past and Sooner Magic will be saved for a time when it is really needed.