Famed Sports Illustrated writer Dan Jenkins in his dispatch from Nebraska-Oklahoma in 1971, the Game of the Century, described Norman, Oklahoma, as “the land of the pickup truck and cream gravy for breakfast.” Down in what was then “dirt-kicking Big Eight territory,” the Huskers won 35-31. It will probably be referenced a time or two on the pregame shows ahead of Saturday.
Fifty years later, Norman is Big 12 territory for now, but will soon be SEC country. Lincoln hasn’t gotten any farther away than it was in 1971, it just feels that way given that the Huskers visit from the Big Ten.
The line for the game is what you’d think it would be given how the 21st Century has gone for both programs. Nebraska has a very steep hill to climb, but strange things happen occasionally in college football. Montana beat Washington in Week 1 as a three-touchdown underdog. Stanford, which got worked by Kansas State to open the season, physically dominated USC in Week 2 as 17.5-point dogs. Clay Helton is no longer the Trojans head coach as a result.
Nebraska, over the past two coaching regimes, has yet to have that sort of “You know what? We’re just going to play like hell” game. It has been a big underdog often enough, but, beyond maybe Ohio State in 2018, Nebraska has yet to come out and look like it doesn’t know that against an opponent with clear advantages. The Huskers need a game like that eventually.
Is this week the week? What would that take? What would it look like? We get into all of that and more in this week’s I-80 Preview podcast.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.