50th 'Game of the Century' anniversary draws interstate attention

·3 min read

Sep. 18—Thousands lined the streets of Norman tailgating, preparing for and celebrating a historic matchup between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Saturday's game honored the 50th anniversary of the "Game of the Century" between then-number one-ranked Nebraska and number two-ranked OU. Now, half a century later, the two teams met up again in celebration of that moment.

The Sooners pulled out the 16-23 win, but fans of both teams enjoyed the atmosphere Saturday.

"This is a historic game, and I'm so excited we get to come watch it," said Levi Subdeck, a Nebraska fan who was in Norman for the game. "I love the environment here — everyone is really friendly, and it's been a lot of fun."

Fans packed Gaylord Memorial Stadium to capacity, with more than 86,000 at the game and thousands more tailgating outside. The full stadium capacity comes as COVID-19 case numbers are still high and hospitals in the state continue to see large numbers of patients with the virus.

Although Subdeck enjoyed the game, he believes the NCAA and the networks weren't giving the game the respect it deserves with the 11 a.m. kickoff.

"I wish it was a later game, especially a night game," he said. "I mean, it's Oklahoma and Nebraska. It deserves to be a prime time game."

This was one area of consensus for both OU and Nebraska fans.

"This game deserves a late afternoon or an early evening kickoff," said Eli Carpenter, an Edmond resident and OU fan. "That way, we can tailgate all day and watch the game in prime time."

Carpenter attended OU games as a season ticket holder in years prior. He said Saturday's game just had a different atmosphere to it with OU facing Nebraska.

"I've been enjoying this for a long time, and there's no better feeling than game day," he said, "But this feels different. I think it's going to be a blowout, but I'm still really excited about getting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century."

This game even drew prominent politicians from both states, where they convened on Campus Corner prior to kickoff.

"I'm in Norman today for the 50th anniversary of OU vs. Norman with Gov. Ricketts," Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said on Twitter. "My score prediction is 45-17 OU."

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts obviously felt differently about the outcome of the game.

"This is going to be a really weird game," said Ricketts in a video on Twitter. "It's going to be 42-41 Nebraska wins."

If the game was weird, it wasn't for the reason Ricketts thought it would be. The Sooners — who were 20-point favorites going into the game — only won by seven points.

It was an unexpected feat for the Cornhuskers, who experts believed would get blown out.

Reese Gorman covers politics and COVID-19 for The Transcript; reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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