Oklahoma football: Sooners won their first of 49 conference titles in 1915

No major college team has won more conference championships in football than the Oklahoma football Sooners.

Related Story: Which of OU's legendary head coaches won most conference titles?

Oklahoma has won 49 conference championships in six different conferences. The Sooners are again the favorites to win the Big 12 Conference in 2020, something they have done 13 times, including each of the last five seasons. That is not the team’s longest championship streak, though. The Sooners won 14 consecutive conference titles between 1946 and 1959 under the legendary Bud Wilkinson.

OU remained independent for the first 20 years of its football history (1895-1914) before becoming affiliated with a conference.

The Sooners won their very first conference championship in football in 1915 as a founding member of the Southwest Conference. Coached by Bennie Owen, who was in his 11th season leading the Sooners, Oklahoma won all 10 of its games in 1915, the school’s first 10-win season.

Although the membership of the Southwest Conference consisted of eight schools, only one team in the league played more than three games against SWC opponents. In 1915, Oklahoma played three SWC teams, posting wins over Arkansas (24-0), Texas (14-13) and Oklahoma A&M (26-7) in the season finale.

OU and Baylor were both 3-0 in league play, but by virtue of its perfect 10-0 record (Baylor was 7-1 overall), the Sooners were awarded the conference crown in the SWC’s inaugural season.

The Sooners would win one other SWC league title, in 1918, before leaving to join forces with the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, forerunner to what is now the Missouri Valley Conference.

The term conference champion is synonymous with Oklahoma football.

Besides the two SWC championships, Oklahoma won one league title (in 1920) as a member of the MVIAA for eight seasons, five in the Big Six, 10 as members of the Big Seven and 18 in the Big Eight.

Among the four Oklahoma coaches to reach 100 career wins, Wilkinson won 14 conference titles, Barry Switzer won 12, including one in each of his first eight seasons as OU head coach, and Bob Stoops captured 10 league crowns in his 18 seasons on the Sooner sidelines.

Oklahoma’s 49 conference championships in 125 years of varsity football average out to a conference title every 2.5 seasons, and that includes 20 years as an independent.

If the Sooners had been affiliated with a conference even for a portion of those 20 seasons, there probably wouldn’t be any school close to them in the number of conference titles. As it stands currently, Nebraska, a former Big 12 school now a member of the Big Ten Conference, is the closest to OU with 46 conference championships..

Oklahoma and Nebraska were members of the same conference for a total of 90 seasons (1921-2010), beginning with the Big Six Conference. The Cornhuskers won 11 Big Six football titles before the Sooners won their first as a member of that conference, in 1938. Since then, however, OU has won 45 league championships in football to 22 by Nebraska.

Forty of the Sooners’ 49 conference championships have come while OU and the Cornhuskers were members of the same conference. The two programs combined for 73 championships in the 90 years they were members of the same conference.

 

 

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