When Oklahoma plays Nebraska on the football field, the stakes are usually high. This year, the prize may include a spot in the national championship game.
For the second straight year, the Sooners (7-0) and Cornhuskers (8-0) enter their Big 12 Conference showdown as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Bowl Championship Series rankings. The BCS standings determine the two schools that will play for the national title in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3.
"You can say you want to treat it like any other game, but you see the rankings and you see that they're ranked No. 1," Nebraska defensive tackle Jeremy Slechta said.
"It would be great to turn the tables on them."
The Cornhuskers, third in the Associated Press Top 25, were ranked No. 1 in the first BCS standings last year but lost to the second-ranked Sooners five days later in Norman, Okla. The Sooners, No. 2 in AP's Top 25, went on to finish undefeated and capture the national title.
"Last year was a little disappointing," said Nebraska senior quarterback Eric Crouch. "This year, it's a new year, it's a new team and we've got it in our own house. It's going to be a great game."
Kickoff is scheduled for noon (Ch. 7) at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, where the Cornhuskers will be playing in front of their NCAA-record 246th consecutive sellout crowd.
The Oklahoma-Nebraska matchup is one of six games today that will have a major impact on conference races and the national championship picture.
There are two key contests in the Pacific-10 Conference, where No. 4 UCLA visits No. 20 Stanford, and No. 11 Oregon plays at No. 14 Washington State. UCLA and Washington State are undefeated, while Oregon and Stanford each have one loss.
"There's no question this is a big week," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. "There's some real good matchups and some things will be decided this week."
In the Southeastern Conference, No. 6 Florida plays No. 15 Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla. (3:30, Ch. 4) -- a game billed as the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" -- and No. 9 Tennessee hosts No. 12 South Carolina (6, ESPN2). All four teams have just one loss in the SEC's Eastern Division.
Tenth-ranked Maryland, the surprise leader in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 7-0, gets a major test on the road against No. 19 Florida State.
The Sooners put their nation-best 20-game winning streak up against the Cornhuskers' 19-game home winning streak, also the best in the country.
"We're looking forward to the challenge," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who has a 10-1 record against ranked teams during his three-year tenure.
Today's game, the 80th in the rivalry, marks the ninth time in the past 30 years that both teams have been ranked in the Top 5. The most memorable meeting was the "Game of the Century" in 1971, when No. 1 Nebraska beat No. 2 Oklahoma, 35-31, in Norman.
"Growing up in Nebraska, that's something you saw all the time, the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry," the Cornhuskers' Slechta said. "Oklahoma had dropped off there for a little bit, but now they're back in there and ranked No. 1."
Oklahoma hasn't won at Nebraska since 1987 and lost its past two games in Lincoln by a combined score of 106-7. The Sooners are four-point underdogs, but Nebraska coach Frank Solich could care less about the numbers.
"They're the defending national champions," Solich said. "It appears again that they do not have any weaknesses. They're very physical, react well on the defensive side and put points on the board offensively."
In last year's game, the Cornhuskers jumped out to a 14-0 lead after their first two possessions before Oklahoma rallied for a victory that made them No. 1.