Last time, we trimmed our list from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight of the Oklahoma Sooners greatest games tournament with the two games in each region. Today, four games will punch their tickets into the final four as we break down the Elite Eight. Now, Let’s begin looking at the matchups and results of the Elite Eight of the Oklahoma Sooners greatest games tournament.
Elite Eight: Oklahoma Sooners Greatest Games
Bud Wilkinson Region
(1) 1971 Nebraska 35 Oklahoma 31 vs (3) 1972 Oklahoma 17 Nebraska 14
Only a year stands between our first two games in the Elite Eight. Even though the games were only a year apart from one another, the differences were vast. The 1971 game was built up as the Game of the Century with two undefeated teams playing for a shot at a national championship. In 1972, Oklahoma was ranked fourth and Nebraska was ranked fifth. Both teams had already accepted trips to the Orange Bowl (Nebraska) and the Sugar Bowl (Oklahoma) respectively. So, even with the conference championship still hanging in the balance the game was not as important on a national scale.
The way each game was played was quite different as well. In 1971, the game lived up to the hype with the teams battling each other all game. Nebraska would hold an 11-point lead on two occasions only to see the Sooners take over the lead twice. But, the Cornhuskers would come out on top with a late touchdown. Coming away from the game, it seemed like Oklahoma was the better team with outgaining the Cornhuskers by over 100 yards. However, the three Sooner fumbles proved to be too much to overcome.
Comparatively, in 1972 the defenses controlled the game a little more. But, the Sooners would need to come from behind to win this game after trailing 14-0. Those two Nebraska scores came off of Sooner turnovers once again. However, that would be the only points the Sooner defense would yield as the offense got going. It might be one of the most satisfying wins in the series as Oklahoma would send legendary Cornhusker coach Bob Devaney out on a sour note while breaking Nebraska’s 23-game home winning streak.
Perhaps it was because of the loss in the 1971 game, but in a stunning upset, the 1972 game wins this matchup with 68% of the votes to advance to the final four.
Winner: 1972 Oklahoma 17 Nebraska 14
Barry Switzer Region
(1) 1987 Oklahoma 17 Nebraska 7 vs (2) 1977 Oklahoma 29 Ohio State 28
Here for this Elite Eight game, we have two games separated by a decade. But, the games were so incredibly different in terms of the aftermath of the game and overall importance to the season. For the first time since 1971, the Oklahoma versus Nebraska matchup would be number one against number two and the winner would get to play for a national championship. For the Oklahoma game against Ohio State, it was a top-five matchup of two blue bloods which would be a turning point for both schools.
In 1986, Oklahoma needed a little Sooner Magic to complete the come from behind victory to break the hearts of the Cornhuskers. However, in 1987 there would be no magic required. Oklahoma dominated the game throughout in the 17-7 victory. The Sooners had 444 yards of total offense to the Huskers 235. Oklahoma also intercepted Nebraska quarterback Steve Taylor three times who boasted earlier in the week that he felt the Cornhuskers would win in convincing fashion.
It’s been well documented but this is a great game and a great finish that could have never been. The Sooners were rolling to the tune of a 20-0 lead in the second quarter. The lead was enough that even ABC decided to switch away from the game to a regional telecast. But, the injuries to Thomas Lott and Billy Sims proved to be a turning point. Oklahoma found itself down 28-20 until the Sooner Magic came to fruition that culminated with the field goal to give the Sooners a 29-28 triumph.
For the second straight matchup, we see the number one seed lose in a minor upset with the Ohio State win making it to the final four with 70% of the votes.
Winner: 1977 Oklahoma 29 Ohio State 28
Bob Stoops Region
(1) 2000 Oklahoma 31 Nebraska 14 vs (2) 2001 Oklahoma 13 Florida State 2
Even though the national championship was played early in 2001, both of these games happened in the same year. Perhaps there’s no greater example than with this matchup to understand the question on your criteria of what your greatest game is. Is your idea of the greatest game the most important game or the most exciting game? We’ll dive into that with this matchup.
The 2000 Nebraska game was once again a number one versus number two matchup. Nebraska jumped up to a quick 14-0 lead and many wondered if Oklahoma was truly ready to get back into the national spotlight. However, the Sooner defense throttled the Cornhusker offense and held them scoreless for the remainder of the game. The Oklahoma offense got rolling and the Sooners scored the last 31 points of the game.
The magical season of 2000 saw the Sooners improve more and more as the season drew to a close. This was no more evident than in the national championship game against the Seminoles. Oklahoma came into the game nearly a two-touchdown underdog against the defending national champions. The Sooner defense provided one of the best defensive performances in a championship game.
Much like in the national championship game, the performance against Florida State dominates from the beginning to make our final four.
Winner: 2001 Oklahoma 13 Florida State 2
Lincoln Riley Region
(1) 2014 Oklahoma 45 Alabama 31 vs (2) 2015 Oklahoma 31 Tennessee 24
Our final matchup in the Elite Eight has two rather improbable victories for the Sooners. But, both of these wins were huge momentum builders for the Sooner program at the time. Even though the Sugar Bowl game was a consolation game for the Tide, they were replete with NFL talent all over the field. Likewise, Oklahoma’s win over the Volunteers in dramatic, come from behind fashion was a springboard into a playoff berth.
Oklahoma’s run to the Sugar Bowl was somewhat unexpected in itself. The Sooners had struggled with consistency at quarterback and were underdogs in the final game against Oklahoma State. Be that as it may, Oklahoma won the Bedlam matchup and advanced to play Alabama. The Sooners were able to match A.J. McCarron, Derrick Henry, and Amari Cooper blow for blow. And, Trevor Knight had his greatest night in a Sooner uniform.
Something felt different about the Sooners matchup in Knoxville against Tennessee. The Volunteers were steadily improving and the fans were at a fevered pitch ready to will the Vols to a big win. And, that’s exactly what happened as Tennessee held a 17-3 lead after three quarters against Baker Mayfield and first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. But, the Sooner offense got rolling and Mayfield hit Perine and then Sterling Shepard for the game-tying touchdown. After Mayfield hit Shepard again to take a seven-point double-overtime lead. But, if the defense that had the last laugh with a Zack Sanchez interception to seal the win.
Even though both are huge wins against the SEC, the victory over Alabama just means more.