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THIS YEAR'S GAME OF THE DECADE
Dan Jenkins
November 22, 1971
Nebraska and Oklahoma, the top-ranked teams in the nation, meet next week in the kind of epic battle that turns up in college football with delightful frequency
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November 22, 1971

This Year's Game Of The Decade

Nebraska and Oklahoma, the top-ranked teams in the nation, meet next week in the kind of epic battle that turns up in college football with delightful frequency

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DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH THE BIG GAME

These 25 college football games, played over the past 65 years, were perhaps the most publicized in the history of the sport, both before and after they were played. Each one stimulated interest and excitement far beyond its region and in most instances a national championship rested on the outcome.

DATE, SITE

OPPONENTS, RECORDS

COACHES, STAR PLAYERS

RESULT

Dec. 6, 1969
Fayetteville, Ark.

TEXAS (9-0) vs.
ARKANSAS (9-0)

Darrell Royal, James Street, qb
Frank Broyles, Bill Montgomery, qb

15-14
Texas

Jan. 1, 1969
Rose Bowl

OHIO STATE (9-0) vs.
USC (9-0-1)

Woody Hayes, Rex Kern, qb
John McKay, O. J. Simpson, hb

27-16
OSU

Nov. 18, 1967
Los Angeles

UCLA (7-0-1) vs.
USC (8-1)

Tommy Prothro, Gary Beban, qb
John McKay, O. J. Simpson, hb

21-20
USC

Nov. 19, 1966
East Lansing, Mich.

NOTRE DAME (8-0) vs.
MICHIGAN STATE (9-0)

Ara Parseghian, Jim Seymour, e
Duffy Daugherty, Bubba Smith, e

10-10
Tie

Jan. 1, 1964
Cotton Bowl

NAVY (9-1) vs.
TEXAS (10-0)

Wayne Hardin, Roger Staubach, qb
Darrell Royal, Tommy Nobis, lb

28-6
Texas

Jan. 1, 1963
Rose Bowl

WISCONSIN (8-1) vs.
USC (10-0)

Milt Bruhn, Ron VanderKelen, qb
John McKay, Pete Beathard, qb

42-37
USC

Oct. 31, 1959
Baton Rouge, La.

MISSISSIPPI (6-0) vs.
LSU (6-0)

Johnny Vaught, Jake Gibbs, qb
Paul Dietzel, Billy Cannon, hb

7-3
LSU

Nov. 10, 1956
Atlanta, Ga.

TENNESSEE (6-0) vs.
GEORGIA TECH (6-0)

Bowden Wyatt, Johnny Majors, hb
Bobby Dodd, Paul Rotenberry, hb

6-0
Tenn.

Jan. 2, 1956
Orange Bowl

OKLAHOMA (10-0) vs.
MARYLAND (10-0)

Bud Wilkinson, Tommy McDonald, hb
Jim Tatum, Ed Vereb, hb

20-6
Okla.

Jan. 1, 1952
Sugar Bowl

TENNESSEE (10-0) vs.
MARYLAND (9-0)

Bob Neyland, Hank Lauricella, hb
Jim Tatum, Ed Modzelewski, fb

28-13
Maryland

Nov. 1, 1947
Dallas, Texas

TEXAS (6-0) vs.
SMU (5-0)

Blair Cherry, Bobby Layne, qb
Matty Bell, Doak Walker, hb

14-13
SMU

Nov. 9, 1946
New York City

NOTRE DAME (5-0) vs.
ARMY (7-0)

Frank Leahy, Johnny Lujack, qb
Red Blaik, Blanchard & Davis fb, hb

0-0
Tie

Oct. 31, 1942
Atlanta, Ga.

GEORGIA (6-0) vs.
ALABAMA (5-0)

Wally Butts, Frank Sinkwich, hb
Frank Thomas, Joe Domnanovich, c

21-10
Ga.

Nov. 9, 1940
Minneapolis, Minn.

MICHIGAN (5-0) vs.
MINNESOTA (5-0)

Fritz Crisler, Tom Harmon, hb
Bernie Bierman, Bruce Smith, hb

7-6
Minn.

Oct. 16, 1937
New York City

PITTSBURGH (3-0) vs.
FORDHAM (3-0)

Jock Sutherland, Marshall Goldberg, hb
Jim Crowley, Alex Wojciechowicz, c

0-0
Tie

Nov. 30, 1935
Fort Worth, Texas

TCU (10-0) vs.
SMU (10-0)

Dutch Meyer, Sam Baugh, qb
Matty Bell, Bobby Wilson, hb

20-14
SMU

Oct. 20, 1934
Pittsburgh, Pa.

MINNESOTA (2-0) vs.
PITTSBURGH (3-0)

Bernie Bierman, Pug Lund, hb
Jock Sutherland, Izzy Weinstock, fb

13-7
Minn.

Jan. 1, 1932
Rose Bowl

TULANE(11-0) vs.
USC (9-1)

Bernie Bierman, Don Zimmerman, hb
Howard Jones, Erny Pinckert, hb

21-12
USC

Nov. 22, 1930
Evanston, III.

NOTRE DAME (7-0) vs.
NORTHWESTERN (7-0)

Knute Rockne, Marchy Schwartz, hb
Dick Hanley, Frank Baker, e

14-0
N. D.

Nov. 16, 1929
Chicago, III.

NOTRE DAME (6-0) vs.
USC (6-1)

Knute Rockne, Frank Carideo, qb
Howard Jones, Russ Saunders, hb

13-12
N. D.

Nov. 27, 1926
Chicago, III.

ARMY (7-1) vs.
NAVY (9-0)

Biff Jones, Red Cagle, hb
Bill Ingram, Tom Hamilton, hb

21-21
Tie

Jan. 1, 1925
Rose Bowl

NOTRE DAME (9-0) vs.
STANFORD (7-0-1)

Knute Rockne, The Four Horsemen
Pop Warner, Ernie Nevers, fb

27-10
N. D.

Nov. 11, 1911
Cambridge, Mass.

HARVARD (5-1) vs.
CARLISLE (8-0)

Percy Haughton, Percy Wendell, hb
Pop Warner, Jim Thorpe, hb

18-15
Carl.

Nov. 20, 1909
Cambridge, Mass.

YALE (9-0) vs.
HARVARD (8-0)

Howard Jones, Ted Coy, fb
Percy Haughton, Hamilton Fish, t

8-0
Yale

Nov. 23, 1905
Chicago, III.

MICHIGAN (12-0) vs.
CHICAGO (9-0)

Fielding Yost, Germany Schulz, c
Amos Alonzo Stagg, Walter Eckersall, qb

2-0
Chi.

In college football there is this thing called the Game of the Decade and it always seems to be lurking in the doorway, like a Nebraska Cornhusker in a funny red hat or an Oklahoma Sooner in a funny red vest. A Game of the Decade is a rather special kind of contest, something on the order of a Crucial Showdown or a Battle of Giants or maybe even a Game of the Century. And no matter how often they play one, a Game of the Decade is a combination of all that is wonderful and insane about college football.

It develops slowly. It starts out with a couple of teams like Nebraska and Oklahoma beating everybody in sight by six or seven touchdowns early in the season. As a result—and this is an essential ingredient—the two teams are ranked high in the national polls, preferably first and second. Then around mid-October everybody realizes that Nebraska and Oklahoma are not going to lose a game until late in the year when they meet each other (see cover). In, of course, a Game of the Decade.

As far as the 1971 supergame is concerned, it took a vastly surprising Oklahoma team to create the excitement. In early September it was obvious that Nebraska would hardly be exercised until Thanksgiving Day in Norman, when there would be this minor irritation, this remote possibility of an upset should the Sooners get high enough. That was fine, and Nebraska started off as expected—by burying everybody. Even Bob Devaney was moved to admit that his Cornhuskers might win a few.

While this was going on, though, Oklahoma was turning out to be more of a sprint relay team than a football team, and when the Sooners ran circles around three excellent foes—USC, Texas and Colorado—on successive Saturdays, it suddenly occurred to a lot of people that on Nov. 25 there was going to be another Game of the Decade.

Now the two teams are there, as last week Nebraska bruised its way over Kansas State 44-17 and Oklahoma sprinted past Kansas 56-10. So, next week, get set for No. 1 Nebraska (10-0) against No. 2 Oklahoma (9-0) in still another of college football's gigantic, colossal, breathtaking, polldown Battle of Giants. Maybe even Game of the Century.

One of the most important things to understand about these Games is that they are sometimes more nerve-tingling before they get played than after they are over—when all of the players, coaches and fans, plus town, region and state of the winning school are stopping downtown traffic and when the losers are looking for a high ledge. Any old football-wise observer knows there is no more miserable creature in the world than a man whose team has lost a Game of the Decade, even on a fluke play, and at the same time there is nothing in the world more insufferable than a man whose team has won a Game of the Decade, even by pure theft.

As Darrell Royal of Texas once observed, "It's the fans who make it bigger than it is. For the players and coaches, it's just a big game. For some fans, it's something they might have to live with forever."

To be rather sticky about it, there are two different kinds of Games of the Decade. There is the mini-Game and there is the real Game. In the first a contest develops between a couple of teams that simply appear to be the best of the year, regardless of their records, teams that may have lost one or tied one along the way—as, for instance, the USC- UCLA happening of 1967.

The second kind is larger, and less frequent, but it has happened before. The teams involved should be undefeated and ranked No. 1 and 2, and they should meet late in the season. Which is to say that Nebraska and Oklahoma haven't invented anything. There have been many such classics, well remembered by historians, the most famous of which are listed on the next page.

The Nebraska-Oklahoma Game of the Decade seems to fall most comfortably into a category including these gems: Texas-Arkansas '69, Notre Dame-Michigan State '66, Notre Dame-Army '46 (which in some ways is in a class all by itself), Michigan-Minnesota '40 and TCU-SMU '35, games that were colorfully known, in order, as The Big Shoot-out, The Game of the Year, The Game of the Century, The Battle of Giants and The Aerial Circus.

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