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Dr. Saturday

Oklahoma and Nebraska will renew their rivalry in 2021 and 2022

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(Associated Press)

The worst part about conference realignment is the loss of rivalries. Of course the entire ordeal is just a cash grab that doesn't take the fans into account for an instant. But most of all, losing the iconic games that are no longer played is the toughest part of the realignment mess.

Oklahoma and Nebraska agreeing to renew their rivalry as a set of nonconference games is welcomed news in the middle of another couple weeks of schools pawning their souls changing conferences.

It's not ideal. The home-and-home series won't start until a game at Oklahoma in 2021, and by then every team in college football might be in one enormous conference anyway. And for now the NU-OU contract is for just two games. The return date is in 2022 at Nebraska.

The stakes won't be as high as when these two proud programs figured into the Big 8 and Big 12 championships most years, or when they played the "Game of the Century" in 1971. But, the schools thankfully seemed to understand the importance of playing again.

"Classic rivalries like Oklahoma-Nebraska are part of college football's historic fabric," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "The ability to rekindle a fabled series between two tradition-rich programs and two extremely loyal and passionate fan bases was very important to both universities.

"Playing marquee nonconference opponents remains an integral part of our scheduling philosophy. Games like Oklahoma-Nebraska embody all the qualities that make regular-season Saturdays in college football matter to so many."

It's also noteworthy that the series was finalized not long before longtime Cornhuskers coach Tom Osborne steps down as Nebraska athletic director.

"Our rivalry with Oklahoma has been one of the great traditional matchups in the history of college football," Osborne said. "The games between the two schools were generally to decide a conference championship, and many times helped determine the national champion. Those matchups were always played with great intensity on the field, but with a great deal of respect from both sides and among the fan bases.

"I know our fans look forward to nonconference games against high-profile opponents like Oklahoma. I'm pleased we were able to finalize this series."

We'll start looking forward to those games now. There's plenty of time for other schools to follow suit and restart their own lost rivalries.

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