Oklahoma Football: 30 Best Games in School History

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

Jan. 1, 1986 – Oklahoma 25, Penn State 10

Oklahoma and Penn State went into their 1986 New Year’s night Orange Bowl matchup ranked No. 3 and No. 1 in the country, respectively, in the AP poll. The unusual part of this postseason game was that the Nittany Lions were underdogs in the game, despite being the top-ranked team.

Very few experts believed that Penn State could successfully defend the explosive Oklahoma Wishbone offense. To the surprise of many, the Sooners were held to 31 net yards rushing in the first half – this from an offense that was averaging 336 yards a game that season.

Penn State grabbed an early 7-0 lead and added three more in the second quarter, but the Sooners scored 16 second-quarter points, including a 71-yard touchdown pass by Jamelle Holieway to tight end Keith Jackson to take a 16-10 lead into halftime.

The Nittany Lions would not score in the second half, while Oklahoma tacked on nine additional points as the Sooners marched to a 25-10 victory and unseated Penn State from the top spot in the final national polls. Oklahoma finished the year with an overall record of 11-1. The lone loss came against the University of Miami in a game in which starting Sooner quarterback Troy Aikman broke his leg and was replaced by Holieway as the starting quarterback.

Aikman would never regain his starting job and transferred to UCLA.

The combination of Oklahoma’s win over No. 1 Penn State and Miami’s 35-7 loss to Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl resulted in Oklahoma being awarded the national championship. It was the third time that Barry Switzer’s Sooners had finished at the top of the ladder in college football and the sixth national crown in football in the school’s history.

Next: Jan. 2, 1989 - Clemson 13, Oklahoma 6