- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has called Saturday’s showdown with Notre Dame the school’s most anticipated home game since the Sooners took on top-ranked Nebraska 12 years ago.
SoonerNation breaks down the 10 home games in Oklahoma history that have been considered the most anticipated, including this weekend's Notre Dame game:
1. 1971: No. 1 Nebraska 35, No. 2 Oklahoma 31
The buildup: The headline on the "Sports Illustrated" cover the week of the game read, "Irresistible Oklahoma Meets Immovable Nebraska." Media around the country were billing it as the biggest game in college history.
The result: The clash lived up the hype, with stars on both sides coming through with spectacular plays. The Sooners held a fourth-quarter lead, but Nebraska prevailed with a late game-winning drive. Dave Kindred of the Louisville Courier-Journal famously led his game story with: "They can quit playing now, they have played the perfect game."
2. 1953: No. 1 Notre Dame 28, No. 6 Oklahoma 6
The buildup: One of the best games of the ’52 season was OU-Notre Dame. The Sooners lost 27-21 in South Bend, Ind., but Billy Vessels ran wild to solidify his Heisman Trophy campaign. The offseason anticipation in Norman for the ’53 game was off the charts, as it would be the first time Notre Dame -- or any big-time program for that matter -- traveled to Oklahoma.
The result: The Sooners fell to the Irish. It would be four years, however, before they would lose again.
3. 2000: No. 3 Oklahoma 31, No. 1 Nebraska 14
The buildup: After years of mediocrity, Bob Stoops had the Sooners back in the national spotlight. But how it performed against mighty Nebraska would determine whether OU was truly back.
The result: The Sooners fell behind 14-0, but roared back for a convincing victory. OU went on to capture the school’s seventh national championship.
4. 1985: No. 5 Oklahoma 27, No. 2 Nebraska 7
The buildup: The Sooners had the best defense in college football, while the Huskers led the nation in scoring. The winner would be in the driver’s seat to go to the Orange Bowl play for a national championship.
The result: The Nebraska offense failed to score against Brian Bosworth and Tony Casillas, as the Huskers' only points came off a late defensive touchdown when the game was no longer in doubt. The Sooners later beat Penn State in the Orange Bowl to bring home the national title.
5. 1975: No. 7 Oklahoma 35, No. 2 Nebraska 10
The buildup: The Sooners were defending national champions, but were coming off a shocking loss to Kansas. OU had dominated the previous three meetings, but the Huskers were suddenly confident they could topple the Sooners.
The result: OU proved it was still the top dog in the Big Eight and destroyed the Huskers. The dominating victory catapulted the Sooners back into the national championship picture, and win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl delivered the school’s second consecutive national title.
6. 2012: No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Notre Dame
The buildup: This weekend, ESPN’s “College GameDay” returns to Norman for the first time in four years for a game with major national title implications. The university expects a record crowd, and tickets are being sold online at astronomical costs.
The result: Time will tell. The winner of the game will be firmly in the national championship picture.
7. 2008: No. 5 Oklahoma 65, No. 2 Texas Tech 21
The buildup: Bob Stoops called out the OU crowd the week leading up to the game, only enhancing the anticipation.
The result: The crowd delivered and “jumped around” the entire night. The players delivered, too, putting away the Red Raiders in the first quarter in one of the most dominating performances in Big 12 history. By virtue of its BCS rank, OU emerged out of a three-way tie with Tech and Texas to go to the Big 12 title game, and ultimately the national championship.
8. 1984: No. 2 Oklahoma 24, No. 3 Oklahoma State 14
The buildup: The late November showdown was essentially a national semifinal. The winner would go to the Orange Bowl, and have a shot at the national championship.
The result: The Sooners continued their Bedlam dominance, as a couple of late turnovers doomed the Cowboys. OU, however, lost to Washington in the Orange Bowl, and BYU was crowned the national champ.
9. 1983: No. 6 Ohio State 24, No. 2 Oklahoma 14
The buildup: The ’77 game in Columbus had been a classic, and both programs were highly ranked going into the season. The Sooners had even higher hopes, thanks to the return of sophomore tailback Marcus Dupree.
The result: The Sooners lost Dupree to injury before halftime, and the Buckeyes coasted to a victory. Neither team ended up having a very good season. A few weeks later, Dupree left the squad for good, and OU limped along to an 8-4 record.
10. 1979: No. 8 Oklahoma 17, No. 3 Nebraska 14
The buildup: Nebraska was playing for a possible national title, while the one-loss Sooners were hoping to go back to the Orange Bowl.
The result: Billy Sims rushed for 247 yards against the No. 1 defense in the country, and the Sooners came back after halftime to stun the Huskers and win their seventh straight Big Eight title.
Games that missed the cut:
1966: No. 1 Notre Dame 38, No. 10 Oklahoma 0
1986: No. 1 Oklahoma 38, No. 4 UCLA 3
1971: No. 2 Oklahoma 45, No. 6 Colorado 17
1988: No. 7 Nebraska 7, No. 9 Oklahoma 3
1973: No. 3 Oklahoma 27, No. 10 Nebraska 0
2002: No. 8 Oklahoma 37, Alabama 27
1957: Notre Dame 7, No. 2 Oklahoma 0