Nebraska said it plans to play Oklahoma as scheduled this season and won't seek to replace the game with an eighth one at home, after reports surfaced that the school was trying to get out of the matchup.
"Due to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to Husker Athletics and the local community, our administration did explore the possibility of adding an eighth home game this fall," Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said in a statement Friday afternoon. "That option would have helped us mitigate cost-cutting measures and provide a much-needed boost to our local economy. Ultimately, the decision was made to move forward with our game at Oklahoma in 2021. We have the utmost respect for the University of Oklahoma, and this storied rivalry, and I know our fans have been excited about this series for a long time."
The game between the former rivals scheduled for Sept. 18 is set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the "Game of the Century," when top-ranked Nebraska beat No. 2 Oklahoma 35-31 in Norman. Stadium reported Friday that Nebraska was trying to get out of the matchup and had contacted potential opponents about playing a game in Lincoln that day. Sources told the Lincoln Journal Star that Nebraska was looking into "the feasibility of the move."
Earlier Friday, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione responded to media inquiries on the matter by tweeting that the Sooners expected the game to go on.
"We've been looking forward to celebrating these two storied programs and have collaborated on various aspects of what promises to be a special weekend," Castiglione wrote in his tweet. "We fully intend and expect to play the game as it is scheduled."
In 2012, Nebraska and Oklahoma agreed to play a home-and-home series in 2021 and 2022, renewing their rivalry from the Big Eight/Big 12. The teams in 2016 added another home-and-home series for 2029 (Norman) and 2030 (Lincoln).
Oklahoma and Nebraska last played each other in the 2010 Big 12 championship game. The Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten the next year.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series 45-38-3; the teams met annually from 1928 to 1997. After beating Oklahoma in 1971, Nebraska went on to win its second consecutive national championship.