Blasphemous, isn’t it, mentioning that the idea that Missouri should be considered Nebraska’s rival? Nebraskans cling to Oklahoma as our chief rival as heartily as we cling to the past. Those were great days of Husker football when evil stalked the Sooner sideline in the form of Switzer and Bosworth.
Alas, the concept of a ‘Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry’ should have passed away with the good ol’ Big Eight conference. When the Big 12 was born, the fools that built it decided that they wouldn’t adhere to a schedule that kept one of the best rivalries in football intact (or determined that this was another way they could damage Nebraska). The unfortunate fact is that it died for everyone else but we remain in denial and we gain nothing by keeping it alive.
Furthermore Oklahoma doesn’t need us as a rival. Their rivalry with Texas remained intact (funny how that worked out so well for the both of them). They’re more than happy to have us show up in Norman this year and pretend that it’s 1971 and ‘The Game of the Century’ all over again. Don't kid yourself that this is about re-establishing some relationship - it's more diabolical than that. It's about keeping us clinging to aged romanticism. The more we do that the less apt we are to establish a rivalry with someone else and therefore the more we remain stuck in the past.
Something else you don’t want to hear - Missouri doesn’t need us as a rival. They already have Kansas. Their hatred of Kansas dates back to 1863 when Captain William Clarke Quantrill lead a group of men into Lawrence and burned it while killing a whole bunch of people. Unless we’re planning on driving into Columbia and committing a heinous act of terrorism in the name of Husker football, we’re not going to compete with that by several miles.
We need a rival. We need someone to hate that we play on a consistent basis. It gives us something to look forward to, somewhere to focus our angst besides ourselves. Nothing like someone you hate coming to town to stop the constant Frank-Tom-Steve-Bill arguments from breaking out. From a pragmatic viewpoint, it allows us to create a ‘big game’ that increases the focus for recruiting, for television, and for public relations.
For those who may wish to stay in denial, what’s wrong with having more than one? Seems like every team in the SEC has everyone else in the SEC as their rival and it doesn’t appear to have done them any harm. This isn’t marriage - there are no rules about having a single ‘designated’ rival. If that’s the case you need to recognize that Oklahoma has left us for someone else long ago. Someone needs to slap you and scream "Wake Up! You’re pinin’ away for Oklahoma, for crying out loud!". There are other fish in the sea, other opportunities, but before you can go after them you have to give up the one that left you and move on.
Back to Mizzou.
There’s already a rivalry trophy at stake, the Nebraska - Missouri Bell. I confess I never knew about until I was playing NCAA Football 2004 and it showed up in the game. That’s likely a by-product of not having lost to the Tigers for 24 straight years between 1979-2003, but times have changed. On our last three trips to Columbia, the Tigers have put up 41 points on our beloved defense, winning all three contests. While they haven’t won in Lincoln since 1978, the chances of keeping that streak intact are certainly in danger this time around.
If it’s longevity you need, you can go back to 1892 when Missouri refused to play Nebraska because of our having a black player on our roster by the name of George Flippin. The result was a forfeit. Consider that this occurred only 29 years after the incident that established the Missouri-Kansas rivalry and all of a sudden we’re not looking so bad in a historical sense. Add to that the Kansas-Nebraska act and you’ve got plenty of historical evil on which to base a rivalry.
If you need something more current, their main export is rumored to be meth. You can't get more evil than that. It's far more evil than Barry Switzer's bootlegging heritage - what are you waiting for?
Missouri has hated us for years, it's time we return the favor. Stay in denial if you want, but if Missouri beats us this weekend, I’m ready to call them a rival. I'm moving on with my life, perhaps it's time you do the same.