With the Ohio State-Oklahoma looming, the college football world is about to embark on the third edition of the Buckeye-Sooner showdown. Already, we’ve seen a backup quarterback trying to trash talk, and the ensuing repercussions of said trash talk.
Let’s look back at the other matchups these two programs shared, and how this game on Saturday will be another clipping for the college football history book.
The Sooner Schooner’s great escape out of Columbus
1977. That’s the first time Ohio State had ever played Oklahoma – and the Buckeyes had the luxury of playing at home. Woody Hayes brought in a squad that was off to a fast 2-0 start after beating Miami (FL) and Minnesota; Barry Switzer came into Columbus, Ohio with a Sooner squad that was also 2-0, but escaped out of Week 1 with a two-point victory over Vanderbilt.
Oklahoma, who was ranked No. 3 at the time, was as advertised. Billy Sims rushed the Sooners to an early lead, which came out to 17-0 after the first quarter. After Uwe von Schamann netted a field goal, the visiting squad had pulled away to what seemed like an insurmountable 20-0 lead.
However, the Buckeyes had the patented Hayes rushing attack – three yards and a cloud of dust – and were out to fight the Sooners until the clock hit all zeros. Ohio State rattled off three straight rushing touchdowns, and found themselves leading the game midway through the third quarter. But the Buckeyes weren’t done; Greg Castignola passed for his first touchdown of the game and put the Scarlet and Gray up 28-20. Castignola only passed the ball twice against Oklahoma, but this completion put momentum squarely into the Ohio State corner.
Here is where things got interesting. With under 90 seconds left in regulation, the Sooners fought back and scored a touchdown – but the conversion failed. Down 28-26, the Sooners had no option but to attempt a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff. Because of a deflection off a Buckeye, the Sooner snatched the ball, and started their final drive from midfield.
Oklahoma took four plays to put themselves into field goal range for von Schamann. With three seconds left, von Schamann connected with a 41-yard field goal and lifted the Sooners to a nail-biting victory in Columbus, 29-28.
The Oklahoma loss was the only regular season ‘L’ for the Buckeyes in 1977. Ohio State ended up in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama – where they would collect their second loss as the Crimson Tide blew out Hayes’ squad, 35-6.
On the other side, Switzer lead the Sooners to a 4-0 start before losing to Texas. Like the Buckeyes, the Sooners only suffered one setback in the regular season, but equaled that tally in the postseason with a blowout bowl game loss.
My name is Earle
Redemption is a marvelous entity. After being the man in charge for four seasons, Earle Bruce had a chance to do what Woody could not: beat Oklahoma. Going into the 1983 season, the Buckeyes were fresh off a 9-3 campaign that ended with a win in the Holiday Bowl against Brigham Young. Similarly, the Sooners ended 1982 with an 8-4 record, but managed to lose in the Fiesta Bowl to Arizona State, even though running back Marcus Dupree had a record night for Oklahoma.
The second meeting between Ohio State and Oklahoma happened on Sept. 17, 1983. Both sides faced one other opponent, and both entered the contest in Norman, Okla. at 1-0. Like the meeting this Saturday, both teams were highly ranked. The Buckeyes entered ranked No. 6, while the home team Sooners came in as the No. 2 team in the country.
Unlike the first time, Ohio State opened up with the lead. Quarterback Mike Tomczak launched the first score to John Frank in the waxing minutes of the first quarter. After leading 7-0 to end the first, Tomczak went back to Frank again for another touchdown in the beginning of the second frame.
Spencer Tillman brought the Sooners back with a 37-yard touchdown run, which ended up being the longest scoring play of the game. The one-score lead wouldn’t last for the long, though. Coming back off halftime, the Buckeyes went back to their scoring ways. Roman Bates punched the ball in from two yards out around the midway point in the third quarter. Ohio State went up 21-7, and were in control of the contest.
From there, the Sooners really didn’t have an answer to Bruce’s Buckeyes. Dupree hobbled to only 30 yards rushing on the ground, but the team collectively came close to the Buckeyes on the ground, 191-189. A stat where the Sooners came nowhere close to the Buckeyes: third down conversions. Switzer’s play calling on the penultimate down was abysmal (3-for-13) while Bruce’s went a modest 10-for-17.
Ohio State’s 24-14 victory in Norman paved the way for a Fiesta Bowl trip. On the flip side, Oklahoma’s season included a few more losses, and a postseason at home.
Meyer-Stoops: Round 2
The will be the first time Meyer faces Bob Stoops since the 2009 National Championship game – a game that Meyer won, 24-14.
Stoops and his Sooners found their way into the BCS National Championship Game, hosted by the Orange Bowl, by way of surviving a turbulent season in the Big XII conference – where Texas beat Oklahoma, then Texas Tech beat Texas on a last second Michael Crabtree (remember him?) touchdown, followed by Oklahoma plastering Texas Tech. Oklahoma walked away as the higher rated of the teams, thus gaining a spot in the conference championship game.
On the other side, Meyer’s Florida Gators squad overcame an early season loss to Ole Miss before running the table. In the SEC Championship Game, Nick Saban and his No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide fell to the No.2 ranked Gators. Fun fact: this was the first time that a conference championship featured the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP Poll.
The 2009 national championship featured a pretty even first half. Meyer’s defense contained Stoops’ offense, which featured Heisman quarterback Sam Bradford. However, the Gators’ offense turned on the points in the second half, and closed the game on a 10-0 scoring run.
Saturday’s meeting mirrors that of the last one. Oklahoma has a pretty decent quarterback in Baker Mayfield, while the Buckeyes bring J.T. Barrett, a rushing and passing threat, and Curtis Samuel – a clone of Percy Harvin from Meyer’s Gator years.
Ohio State’s last outings in Big XII country
The Buckeyes last three meetings with a Big XII institution have all been against Texas. Which means the last time the Scarlet and Gray played in a true Big XII stadium was back in 2006 when Jim Tressel had a No. 1 ranked squad. In that game, Troy Smith and the Buckeyes rodeoed the No. 2 ranked Longhorns, 24-7, in Austin, Texas.
Ohio State hasn’t made a slew of trips into Big XII territory throughout the program’s history. Before the 2007 meeting in Austin, the Buckeyes last trip to a current member of the Big XII came against West Virginia in the first week of 1998. If you don’t count the current conference alignment, the Missouri Tigers hosted the Buckeyes in 1996.
In total, Ohio State has played a current member of the Big XII conference 24 times. Of those 24 contests, the Buckeyes have won a staggering 18 of them. Kansas and Iowa State haven’t had the chance to play against the reigning Fiesta Bowl champions, but one would have to figure that with the way Meyer has guided the Buckeye program, it would be a tall order for either the Jayhawks or Cyclones to secure a win.
One thing has been common when either Bruce, Cooper or Tressel were in charge of the program: they won in true road games against the Big XII. Urban Meyer looks to add to that list on Saturday.