Oklahoma football: Five standout Sooner season openers

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NORMAN, OK – OCTOBER 15: An Oklahoma Sooners cheerleader performs during the game against the Kansas State Wildcats October 15, 2016 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Kansas State 38-17. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) *** local caption ***

Out of 122 Oklahoma football season openers, you know there are quite a few that could be singled out as standout  games. And that does not necessarily mean that OU came out on the winning end.

As you might expect, the Sooners have won the vast majority of their season-opening football games — 95 out of 122, , or 78 percent, to be precise. They have lost 22 openers and played to a tie on five other occasions.

Oklahoma lost its very first opener, its only game of the inaugural 1895 season, to a town team made up of players from the Oklahoma City area. The final score was 34-0.

Of Oklahoma’s four head coaches who compiled 100 or more wins, Barry Switzer was the most successful in season-opening contests. In his 16 seasons as the head of the Sooner football program, Switzer went 15-1 in opening games of the season. He won his first nine in a row, from 1973-1982, before losing at home to West Virginia 41-27, kicking off the 1982 season.

Seven times in the Switzer era at OU the Sooners opened the season either No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation. Two other times, Oklahoma was ranked No. 3 to begin the season, and three times they started the new campaign at No. 4.

The late Bennie Owen, Oklahoma’s longest tenured football coach, won 19 of his 22 season openers. Even more amazing was his consecutive-game win streak in season-opening games. Owen, who coached multiple sports at Oklahoma, including football from 1905 to 1926, won his first 18 consecutive season openers before losing to Nebraska 24-0 in the opening game in 1923.

The Sooners would lose their first game the next two seasons under Owen before defeating Arkansas in the 1926 opener, his final season on the OU sidelines.

Bob Stoops, the winningest of all 22 Oklahoma head football coaches, was 16-2 in opening games of the season. One of those two defeats occurred last season, when the No. 3-ranked Sooners fell to 15th-ranked Houston 33-23. Before suffering the loss to Houston, Oklahoma had lost just once in 17 previous season kickoff games under Stoops.

Here are five standout season-opening games for Oklahoma football as we go under 50 days in the countdown to the kickoff of the 2017 college football season. Three are from the Wilkinson era and two are during the time Switzer was head coach of the Sooners.

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