Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 16, 1957: Streak over

NORMAN, Okla. - It had been four years, 47 games, since Oklahoma had lost a college football game. It had been even longer, 123 games and 12 years, since the Sooners had been shut out in a game. So as their punt sailed into the Notre Dame end zone with about six minutes to play in the game, it was shocking to look up at the scoreboard to see a score of 0-0.

It was shocking not just because of Oklahoma's recent history, but also because of Notre Dame's. The Irish had lost to Oklahoma 40-0 the previous year and entered their game against on November 16, 1957, on a two-game losing streak, something to which Notre Dame was very unfamiliar. The Irish were 18-point underdogs to the mighty Sooners.

Throughout the game, the Irish defense held strong, letting Oklahoma get drive into Notre Dame territory before strengthening. Oklahoma's best scoring chance was a drive that stalled at the 3 yard line in the first quarter. Notre Dame's offense, though, rarely had a chance to capitalize, as Oklahoma punts kept pinning Notre Dame deep in its own territory. The closest the Irish came to scoring came in the second quarter, with another drive that stalled at the 3.

And so the game remained scoreless as Oklahoma punted away in the fourth quarter. Starting at the 20, Notre Dame started methodically marching up the field, never busting a big play but never getting stuffed, either. Soon, Notre Dame had first and goal without having thrown a pass. Seeing their streak in jeopardy, Oklahoma stiffened. The Irish were stuffed on three straight runs up the middle, setting up fourth and goal. Instead of kicking the field goal, the Irish went for it again, this time running around right end. Dick Lynch ran in untouched, and the ensuing conversion gave Notre Dame a 7-0 lead.

Now it was Oklahoma's last chance. The crowd, expecting the kind of last-minute touchdown that had become Oklahoma's trademark during its streak, watched in horror as Notre Dame intercepted a last-ditch drive. After being shocked into silence, the crowd rose to give a standing ovation, to Oklahoma in recognition of the two great streaks that ended that day, and to Notre Dame for a job well done.

With the loss, Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson saw his career record drop to 101-8-3. Oklahoma's streak of 47 straight wins remains the all-time college football record.

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