Flashback Friday: Remembering the ‘Game of the Century'
It was 45 years ago Friday, back in 1971, when the memorable “Game of the Century” took place at Owen Field in Norman, Oklahoma.
We flashback on this Friday, to take a look at the epic game between Nebraska and Oklahoma.
The game received a lot of national publicity heading up to Thanksgiving Day. The Cornhuskers were the reigning national champions, undefeated for the season and on a current 20-game win streak. The Sooners were ranked second and were an impressive scoring team, known for their wishbone offense. Oklahoma was ranked first in average points with 45 per game, 563 total yards per game, and 481 rushing yards per game, according to SoonerStats.com.
The game was close throughout, and although Nebraska held a lead after the first 15 minutes of play, the Sooners headed to the locker room at halftime leading 17-14. However, the Cornhuskers scored two touchdowns to give Nebraska a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but with 7:10 left in the game the Sooners would grab a touchdown to have a 31-28 edge. Nebraska running back Jeff Kinney would secure the game for the Cornhuskers scoring a touchdown, his fourth of the game, with about two minutes left. Nebraska's defense would stay strong, sacking Oklahoma quarterback Jack Mildren to help secure the victory. The game was thrilling and lived up to the hype, eventually being coined “The Game of the Century.”
Jack Mildren - The quarterback for the Sooners led the wishbone attack and rushed for over 1,000 yards in his senior season, setting the then-record at the time accumulating 1,140 total rushing yards.
Greg Pruitt - The All-American running back ranks third among Sooners in career all-purpose yards. He came in second in Heisman Trophy voting in 1972, and third in 1971. Pruitt would go on to play in the NFL from 1973-84.
Tom Brahaney - Brahaney played center for the Sooners and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He played nine seasons in the NFL.
Johnny Rodgers - The running back for the Cornhuskers would win the Heisman Trophy in 1972. During “The Game of the Century” he returned a 72-yard punt for Nebraska’s first touchdown.
Jeff Kinney - Kinney scored the go-ahead touchdown in the Game of the Century, while rushing for 171 yards, 151 in the second half, on 31 carries and scored four touchdowns in total. The running back would later play professionally in the NFL.
Jerry Tagge- Tagge was selected in the first round of the 1972 NFL draft, after leading the Cornhuskers to back-to-back successful seasons.
What happened after?
Nebraska would win a consecutive national championship after defeating Alabama 38-6 in the Orange Bowl. The Sooners beat Auburn 40-22 in the Sugar Bowl. However, the epic Game of the Century kicked off what would later become a rivalry between the two teams, which was played the day after Thanksgiving.