Oklahoma has played Nebraska 86 times in football. The Sooners are 6-4 in the last ten meetings against the Cornhuskers and 45-38-3 overall against their old foe. The problem is that Nebraska really is an old foe. The last time these two programs tangled on the gridiron the current players for both teams were in grade school. They haven’t played in so long that DeMarco Murray had an All-Pro NFL career and began his coaching career since the last time there was a Battle of the Big Reds.
That last time out was 2010. Oklahoma and Nebraska were still titans of the Big 12 and faced each other in Arlington, Texas for the conference championship. Landry Jones was the quarterback for Oklahoma, DeMarco Murray was the running back, Ryan Broyles was the star receiver and a freshman named Kenny Stills was emerging as the newest threat in the Sooner passing game.
Both teams entered the game with a 10-2 record and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl was on the line. The Sooners found themselves in a 17-0 hole early in the second quarter but a defensive effort, led by linebacker Travis Lewis, was about to help swing all of the momentum back towards Oklahoma’s side. OU outscored Nebraska 17-10 in the second quarter to pull to within a 20-17 deficit at the half.
A relentless defense pressured Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez all night long, ultimately sacking him seven times, and forced four turnovers. Travis Lewis had a hand in three of the four turnovers after picking off a Martinez pass in the end zone and recovering two fumbles.
“This is a great feeling. This is my third Big 12 championship and this one’s definitely the sweetest,” Lewis said after the game. “The fashion that we won this game in, we always pride ourselves that defense wins championships. I felt like we got rattled a little early, we gave up some big plays but we never panicked.”
Landry Jones led Oklahoma’s offense with a 342 yard passing performance that included him hitting Kenny Stills for a 49-yard touchdown. Jones also ran for a 1-yard score, making him responsible for both of OU’s trips into the end zone that night. Stills led all of the Sooner receivers with 83 yards on just three catches. DeMarco Murray was Oklahoma’s leading rusher, going for 68 yards on 17 carries. Murray also caught five passes for 60 yards.
The win secured a seventh Big 12 championship for Oklahoma and also started a hiatus for the conference championship game as the next season Nebraska, along with Colorado, bolted from the Big 12 the next season.
Eleven years later it’s the Sooners who are short timers in the Big 12. The BCS system is gone and the landscape of college football in general looks much different than it did the last time these two programs faced off. One thing that has remained though is that Oklahoma is still a titan in the Big 12. In fact, they’re the only titan now. The Sooners have added another seven conference championships since that game, doubling the number of trophies in the case to 14, and remain at the forefront of the College Football Playoff conversation.
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