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Big Ten Countdown: 76 - Sooner Magic

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Yesterday was a day for the band.  Today is a day for our old rival and the heart ache they caused us.  My first recollection of Husker football on television was the 1986 Nebraska - Oklahoma game in Lincoln.  Back then, there were only a few games on TV.  The radio was tuned to KFAB quite a bit on Saturday afternoons while my dad and I use to do house-hold chores.  But the Oklahoma game was always televised, and usually a big non-conference game made it on TV.  I still wasn't really old enough to know exactly what was going on and how the game worked, but I tried.  In between playing with my Transformers, or He-Man or Lego's, I would catch a few glimpses of the game; especially when my dad would jump out of his seat cheering or yelling at the TV.  I can remember hearing the names Steve Taylor and Brian Bosworth a lot.  And I can definately remember how mad my dad was at the end of the game when the Sooners snuck out of Lincoln with yet another come-from-behind 4th quarter win against the Huskers.  Sooner Magic had struck again.

After Nebraska had accepted the Big Ten invitation last summer, I glanced at the scheduled and quickly realized that there would be no regular season Oklahoma-Nebraska game this year.  I thought that it would be fitting for those two schools to meet in the last conference championship game at the end of the year.  And, though I hate to admit it, it would be doubly fitting if Sooner Magic reared its ugly head one last time.

What is Sooner Magic?  It's kind of like a cat with nine lives.  A cat can play their trump card seemingly at will to get out of a situation that any lesser animal would experience injury or death.  Well, the Sooners had their trump card where they could use it only against Nebraska and it would allow Oklahoma to come from behind in the 4th quarter and beat us.  This usually followed a very mediocre first three quarters from them, and they a crazy 4th.  Jim Dent wrote a book call the "Undefeated" and in it, he describes Sooner magic.

The term "Sooner Magic" was born on a cold and windy afternoon in Lincoln, Neb., in 1976 when the fourth quarter found the Sooners trailing the Cornhuskers 17-7. With three minutes to play, and the lead down to four, hope for a comeback had all but vanished into the Nebraska clouds.
Oklahoma was stuck at the Husker 16-yard line when Woodie Shepard completed a 50-yard halfback pass to freshman end Steve Rhodes, whose catch was nothing short of miraculous. Two plays later, Rhodes ran a curl pattern and then pitched to halfback Elvis Peacock on the old hook-and-lateral. Peacock was finally knocked out of bounds at the Nebraska three.
Peacock scored the winning touchdown on next play with 30 seconds remaining, vaulting the Sooners into a three-way tie for the conference championship.
Further proof of the pixy dust that filled the air over Lincoln that day was the pregame prayer delivered in the Oklahoma locker room by defensive back and team captain Scott Hill at the behest of coach Barry Switzer:
"Please dear Lord don't let any injury or harm come to any player. And please, please, please, dear Lord, please don't let the best team win."
The youthful Sooners were outmanned and outgunned that day. But "Sooner Magic" never failed them.


It's one thing for a team to come back at the end of a game and beat you, it's another thing if they do it five times in ten years(1976, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1987).   Sooner magic also showed up in 1990 when 10th ranked Nebraska got blown out by an unranked OU team 45-10 in Norman.  In 2000, the Sooners came out of nowhere and took it to a top-ranked Nebraska team with Eric Crouch.  And of course, fresh in our heads is the last time we met Oklahoma.  The magic did show up for Oklahoma one last time in last years Big XII title game as OU came from behind again to beat Nebraska.  By my count OU has but one life left.  If we play them in 2020/2021, maybe we can finally clean them out of their magic trump cards.