Oklahoma Football: 30 Best Games in School History

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Nov 21, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners drum major before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jan. 2, 1978 – Arkansas 31, Oklahoma 6

The 1978 Orange Bowl, which pitted No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Arkansas, will not get many votes in the “best games” category, not if you are a Sooner fan, that is, but it certainly qualifies as one of the most humbling, which places it among the more notable games in OU football history.

The Sooners were aware, before the  kickoff, that the team ahead of them in the rankings, the Texas Longhorns, had lost in the Cotton Bowl to Joe Montana and Notre Dame. So an Oklahoma win would most certainly guarantee them a national championship and the third in five seasons.

To tilt matters further in Oklahoma’s favor, Arkansas head coach Lou Holtz had suspended three players for the Orange Bowl game, and two of the suspended players were the top two Razorback running backs. After the suspensions were made public, the Las Vegas oddsmakers established the Sooners as 24-point favorites.

Someone forgot to inform the Arkansas players, though, that they were heavy underdogs, or perhaps that is exactly what happened, because the Razorbacks came out on fire. Arkansas scored 14 quick points in the opening quarter and the Sooners were never able to recover from the initial onslaught. One of the two first-quarter Arkansas touchdowns came about as a result of a fumble deep in OU territory by the great Billy Sims.

Oklahoma managed to score just once in the game, a touchdown coming in the fourth quarter. Backup running back Roland Sales gained over 200 yards rushing for the Razorbacks, who outgained OU on the ground by almost 90 yards and also threw for more yards than the Sooners in the game.

The final score: Arkansas 31, Oklahoma 6. A classic lesson in why you should not take any team for granted. As the Sooners strongly learned, this can be especially true in the postseason and when your opponent feels it has been disrespected by everyone else on the planet by being told it doesn’t have a chance of winning.

Next: Oct. 4, 1980 - Oklahoma 82, Colorado 42