12 Saturdays: A Few Fun Fall Saturdays in 1977

Only 12 Saturdays remain between now and next football season. Seems like a long time away, but it really isn’t.

A lot of times when watching old college football games it is shocking to see how slow they were. Watching Oklahoma in 1977 is completely opposite of that reaction. I was shocked to see them after all these years and to be reminded of just how fast they were.

OU was ranked #3 and was 2-0 coming in to Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State was ranked #4 and also 2-0. Coming into 1977, the Oklahoma Sooners and the Ohio State Buckeyes were about as good as it got in the  1970s.

Oklahoma, in spite of having a very average season in 1970, was 102-13-3 in the 1970s. They were extremely impressive in those years and were in the battle for the national championship nearly every year of that decade.

OSU was slightly less dominating at 91- 20- 3. But, that record  would have looked much better if not for a couple of 4 loss season in between great seasons. These were 2 of the very best programs in the country in the 1970s and are still so today as both are in the top 10 in every 2014 preseason poll and probably top 5 in several. Some things don’t change much.

 

The Sooners went up 20-0 on Ohio State and Barry Switzer thought they were going to hang half a hundred on them, his words. Billy Sims the Oklahoma Sooner super man got injured. Buckeyes came roaring back scoring 28 straight points to go up 28-20.

This game was wild and really sloppy with a lot of turnovers.  Both teams turned the ball over several times each. Ohio State fumbled again and set OU up to try and tie the ball game up. OU scored and made it 28-26. They weent for 2 and were stopped short as the Buckeye defense rose to the occasion.

OU got the ball back one more time and with time running out, OU was in position to attempt a 41 yard field goal. Buckeye’s coach Woody Hayes elected to call time out to ice the OU Kicker, Uwe Von Schaman. OSU fans chanted Block that kick! Block that Kick! Block that kick!

Nobody that saw this game will ever forget Von Schaman leading the Buckeye fans in the chant with his hands like a Maestro leading his orchestra.

Somehow, when Von Schaman started conducting the masses, a viewer just knew he would and could not be iced and he would knock it right down the middle between the goalposts, which he calmly did.

Oklahoma beat Ohio State in a classic of a game, 29-28.

 

 

 

Red River Shootout was also a classic, a defensive classic. It also included the Oklahoma Sooners, but the opponent this time was the hated Texas Longhorns.

October 8th, 1977.
Texas came in with Mark McBath as the starter at QB. McBath went down with a knee injury in the first quarter.

His backup was Jon Aune. Aune also went down with a knee injury and both were lost for the year. The job fell into the hands of completely unheralded Randy McEachern. Texas did have super star Running Back Earl Campbell who had been a Wishbone Fullback for 3 years under Darrell Royal. Now, he was a tailback in the I-formation under brand new Texas coach, Fred Akers.

Texas also had Olympic Gold Medalist Johnny Lam Jones at WR.

Texas did just fine with the limited McEachern, the great Earl Campbell and an outstanding young defense for 11 games.

 

Texas coaches invented the Wishbone Offense and the Oklahoma Sooners are the ones that perfected it. Oklahoma’s Billy Sims may have been the top Wishbone Halfback of the entire era. The man thought he could fly and he got close on several occasions. Billy Sims would later win his own Heisman Trophy, but this Oklahoma team was far more than just Billy Sims.

 

This game featured 2 of the greatest Running Backs of all time.

But, this game was a slug fest from the opening Kickoff. Earl Campbell’s 25 yard second quarter TD run is the stuff of legends and always comes up in any highlight video. Campbell finished with 124 yards rushing and the Horns out hammered the Sooners that day for a hard fought 13-6 victory.

The Texas defense started 8 true sophomores and they played their hearts out slowing the Sooner Wishbone attack like few else could have.

 

 

The Following week, the #2 ranked Texas traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the #8 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. Texas won a hard fought 13-9 slug fest for the second week in a row while Campbell rushed for 188 and further set himself up to win the Heisman Trophy in 1977.

Darrell K Royal  had retired and his good friend, Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles did so as well. Lou Holtz of later Notre Dame fame would come on as Arkansas coach and as usual the Razorbacks and the Longhorns, rivals that they were, continued on a similar path as they seemed to all the time in those days.

In the 60s and the 70s the Horns and the Hogs had some classic battles and hate each other all they wanted, their games were good for the conference they played in and good for college football in general.

Lou Holtz

 

 

 

Texas went on to finish at #1 at 11-0, and faced Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl and their QB Joe Montana and would be destroyed, 38-10.

Arkansas went on to the Orange Bowl and obliterated OU, 31-6, in a complete shocker and they finished ranked #3 while Texas finished at #4.

 

Notre Dame was crowned National Champs, but of course there was plenty of controversy as Alabama felt they should be #1. Schools like Arkansas also felt that they could have just as easily been #1.

No doubt that Notre Dame was the best team in 1977 and would have beaten any other contenders. They just had too much talent across the board.

 

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