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College Football Kicks Off Today

Associated Press

Early in the season, early in the day. Northwestern’s Wildcats will jump-start the college football season today against Oklahoma in the Pigskin Classic.

“It’s a risk taking this game, I guess. But we felt like it’s worth taking,” said Northwestern coach Gary Barnett. “It’s hard to get your team back in early and going at this point in time.

“It’s a great game to kick off in that all of college football gets to watch it. Every player in the country who isn’t playing is going to watch.”

Whether the fans watch is another question. Just 32,800 tickets were sold as of Friday, and a crowd of 37,000 was expected for the game at 66,944-seat Soldier Field.

While Northwestern has won back-to-back Big Ten titles and made two straight bowl appearances for the first time in school history, Oklahoma has been headed in a different direction.

Once a college football power-house, the Sooners haven’t had a winning season since 1993.

“Last year was a tough time for all of us. We’re trying to get that tradition started back up,” said coach John Blake, who went 3-8 last year.

The Sooners are a young team, welcoming a chance to play the first game of the season on national TV.

Sophomore running back De’Mond Parker is trying to become the first Sooner since Billy Sims to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Another sophomore, Justin Fuente, will start at quarterback.

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