Like most Miami and Oklahoma players of this generation, Sooners offensive lineman Brian Simmons had no idea how fierce the schools' rivalry once was.

That is, until a few days before they played in 2007.

Simmons was approached in a restaurant by a stranger, an older man, who gave an impromptu history lesson.

"He was just fired up talking about how they cost us two national championships in the 80's, because that was the only team they lost to," Simmons said. "I thought he was talking about Texas. ... I know a lot of older people, they're fired up about it. Miami, they look at them as another Texas."

The series once was about Brian Bosworth and Vinny Testaverde, Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson, Oklahoma's fumblerooski and Miami's mascot setting a miniature Sooner Schooner on fire. It decided at least two national titles, plus had both bravado and vitriol.

And it gets rekindled Saturday night.

No. 8 Oklahoma (2-1) visits No. 17 Miami (2-1), the second game of a home-and-home that started two years ago in Norman with a 51-13 rout by the Sooners _ by far, the most one-sided game in series history.

If there's ever a chance for Miami to show what kind of strides it's made since that dismal 5-7 season, this is it.

"I think it's great for college football that you see those kind of programs play each other throughout the country," said Miami coach Randy Shannon, who played in some of those Hurricanes-Sooners games in the 1980s. "The more that those things happen, I think it's better for college football."

There won't be any 5:30 a.m. crank wake-up calls Saturday from one side to the other, like what the Hurricanes did to the Sooners before a game in the 1980s. No talk of alleged plots to injure a team's star players like in years past, either.

In some ways, Miami vs. Oklahoma has gone from fiery to friendly.

"It's just exciting with the tradition and histories of the programs," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "We recognize that going down to Miami is a big challenge. ... They have been very impressive, they have a very difficult schedule and they have handled it really well, especially with great wins in their first two games."

Make no mistake, though, it's an important game to both sides.

Oklahoma could get Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford back from a shoulder injury, plus potentially creep back to the top rungs of the Top 25 following a season-opening 14-13 loss to BYU. Miami gets a chance to atone for last week's dismal show in a 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech, with the potential bonus of what would surely be Shannon's biggest win since taking over the program.

"I grew up watching Oklahoma. I wouldn't ever call myself a fan of Oklahoma," said Miami left tackle Jason Fox, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, about a three-hour drive from the Sooners' campus. "But I have a lot of respect for them. They're always at the top of the national rankings, so this is a huge game, not just for me but for everybody involved."

From that restaurant incident a couple years ago, Simmons _ ironically, who dropped his allegiance as a Florida State fan when the Seminoles lost a national championship game to Oklahoma, only to become a Miami fan at that point instead _ can attest to how much this game matters to ardent fans.

The same apparently rings true in Miami. Ticket sales suggest this could be one of the Hurricanes' biggest home crowds in years.

"I just can't wait," said Miami offensive lineman Joel Figueroa, who missed the 2007 game with an injury. "Can't wait."

But what does Figueroa know about the rivalry?

"Not much," he acknowledged. "I'm not a big stat guy."

Other than the history lessons, there isn't really a way for today's Sooners and 'Canes to relate to the epic matchups past, like the ones in the 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons, when Switzer's Oklahoma teams went 33-0 against all other opponents, and 0-3 against Miami.

Neither team has a player from the opposing state, although Oklahoma freshman Curtis Chambers can say he's from Miami. (That is, Miami, Okla., pop. 13,704.)

Still, one team gets bragging rights Saturday night, a chance to show up for classes Monday morning with puffed-out chests, able to say that it just knocked off one of the nation's most storied programs.

Even without a national title or No. 1 ranking at stake like in past years, that's plenty for the Sooners and 'Canes.

"That's the reason why you come to school at a place like this," said Oklahoma running backs coach Cale Gundy, the Sooners' quarterback from 1990-1993. "You want to play in the big games."


AP Sports Writer Jeff Latzke in Norman, Okla. contributed to this story.