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"The Game of the Century"

This article is more than 14 years old.

The assumption that any single contest can stand as "The Game of the Century" is spectacularly ridiculous. On the other hand, lots of factors combined to render the Nebraska-Oklahoma football game in 1971 a remarkable contest, and if the sports establishment and the publishing industry were forced to abandon hyperbole, where would we be? (Pretty Good Moments In Sports? One of the Better Stories Ever Told?)

Oklahoma brought to this particular game a triple option offense which nearly all its opponents had found baffling. Nebraska brought to the game running back Johnny Rodgers, whom Coach Bob Devany later admitted he probably would have suspended after Rodgers was arrested for robbing a gas station, except that Rodgers really was a good player, gosh darn it, and everybody deserves a second chance...especially if he's the most likely guy on your team to run back an Oklahoma punt for a touchdown, in which case he really deserves a lot more chances than just two. (My favorite moment in this book comes when one of Rodgers's contemporaries says of the running back, "he always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," which is, I think, a charitable interpretation of an armed man's presence at a gas station during a robbery.)

"The Game of the Century" is not for everybody. In fact, it's not for anybody who doesn't have an appetite for an awful lot of x's and o's, and for a fair amount of history regarding the development of two football teams of which the universities can be very proud, at least until the NCAA figures out what's going on.

This program aired on November 19, 2004. The audio for this program is not available.

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