Tuesday, September 9, 2008

West Coast meets Pot Roast

One of the things I've decided to do this year is wind the clock back 30 years and reminisce about the Sooners 1978 season. The Sooners finished 11-1 that year, losing one game to Nebraska and avenging that loss in a weird Orange Bowl rematch. I'll be doing this from personal memory (I was 12 at the time, but attended every home game) as well as from various books and internet research, most of which will start at http://www.soonerstats.com and http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com, and a book I picked up off of the soonerstats.com site titled, "Oklahoma Football", by Danny Hartley.

The Sooners that year were loaded offensively. They returned 16 starters from the 77 Big 8 championship team that went undefeated in Big 8 play, and finished the year 10-2, with losses to #3 Texas and #4 Arkansas. Thomas Lott quarterbacked the Wishbone attack, and alternated handing off or pitching it to Kenny King (6 yrs in NFL), Billy Sims (5 yrs, injury shortened), David Overstreet (1 yr NFL, died in car accident), Freddie Nixon and Jimmy Rogers (5 yrs in the NFL) in the backfield. Uwe Von Schamann was kicking it through the uprights on kickoffs, and making every XP available. OL Greg Roberts, DL Reggie Kinlaw and Daryl Hunt, and RB Billy Sims all made All-American that year. Sims won the Heisman.

Without further ado, we'll kick it off with the game played by OU on Sep 9, 1978 in Palo Alto, CA against the Stanford Cardinal.

Opponent: Stanford Cardinal, coached by some crackpot named Bill Walsh. Walsh had led the Cardinal to a 9-3 record the previous year, capped off by a win over LSU in the Sun Bowl. Random fact: Stanford is 3-1-1 against the current members of the SEC, and haven't played an SEC member since 1978. Stanford was led by QB Steve Dils, RB Darrin Nelson and WR Ken Margerum. Dils was backed up by Turk Schonert, who also went on to play in the NFL. Dils who went on to play for 10 years in the NFL, Nelson played 11 and Margerum played 7 years. You don't find many national championship contenders teams opening the season on the road against a team of Stanford's caliber in today's football world.

The Game: The Sooners defeated the Cardinal 35-29. The Sooners jumped out to a 28-10 halftime lead, but faltered in the second half. Dils was using this newfangled short pass offense engineered by Walsh, amassing 299 yards passing on 32 completions in 48 attempts. At the time, it was a Sooner defensive record for most passing yards allowed in a game. We thought this passing offense was some sort of sissy football at the time. A late Cardinal TD closed the gap to 35-27, and the subsequent onside kick was recovered at the OU 36 by Larry Harris. OU DB Darrol Ray intercepted a last second pass by Dils to secure the victory, and Von Schamann intentionally downed the ball for a safety with 8 seconds left in the game to account for the final points.

Sims and King led the Sooners rushing attack, each nudging past the 100 yard mark on 19 carries. Lott had a feast or famine day passing the ball, completing 5 of 12 passes for 121 yards and two scores. It was the only game that year where Lott broke the 100 yard passing mark. The Sooners intercepted 4 passes that day, but also turned the ball over 5 times, including four fumbles.

Stanford would finish the season 8-4 and ranked 17th in the country. Walsh would move up the road and have moderate success as a head football coach with the San Francisco 49ers before coming back to Stanford in 1992.

1 comment:

Red Dawg said...

Did the Stanford band take out any Sooner players?