We are down to 87 days remaining in our Countdown to Kickoff, and for today’s edition I am going to take a look back at one of the best teams in program history to not win a national championship: the 1987 Oklahoma Sooners.
Barry Switzer’s ‘87 Sooners went undefeated through their first 11 games (7-0 in the Big Eight) before falling to Miami in the 1988 Orange Bowl. While they did not win it all, their season still represents one of the most dominant campaigns in college football history. Going into the national title game, Oklahoma’s average margin of victory was +36, scoring 43.5 ppg and allowing a mere 7.5 ppg, and it all came with the target of being the No. 1 team in the nation.
The Sooners’ triple option offense was nearly unstoppable. On the season, Oklahoma averaged 408 rushing yards per game and eclipsed 500 rushing yards in a game on three separate occasions. Switzer’s squad was also used to hanging half-a-hundred on defenses, doing so five times on the year, including a 71-spot on the Kansas Jayhawks.
Led by junior QB Jamelle Holieway, Jim Thorpe Award winner Rickey Dixon and legendary tight end Keith Jackson, the Sooners faced off against Jimmy Johnson’s Miami squad in the 1988 Orange Bowl. The matchup had been billed as the ‘Game of the Century,’ and it lived up to the hype. After a 7-7 tie in the first half, the Hurricanes jumped out to a two-possession lead in the third quarter and ultimately prevailed, 20-14.
Who knows where college football historians would rank the 1987 Oklahoma Sooners all-time if they had taken care of business against ‘The U’ in the Orange Bowl. One thing’s for sure, even with that lone loss, this was a team that Sooner fans can continue to reflect on proudly for years to come.
Now... lets’ cover the days we’ve missed since our last countdown post:
88 days! - Keith Jackson
Oklahoma has had some great tight ends in the 21st century — such as Mark Andrews, Jermaine Gresham and Trent Smith — but the greatest in OU history played years earlier in Switzer’s a run-heavy offense. While he obviously didn’t put up the numbers of the other guys mentioned, that offense made him perhaps the most unique offensive weapon of his era and allowed him to average 28.8 and 27.5 yards per reception in his junior and senior seasons respectively. With the speed of a wide receiver and the blocking ability of a bulldozer, Jackson is considered by many to be the greatest tight end in the history of college football. He was no slouch at the professional level either, earning first-team All-Pro honors in his first three NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’d go on to earn total six Pro Bowl invites and eventually win a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers.
89 days! - Brandon Daniels takes it 89 yards to the house in South Bend
Notre Dame struck first in the 1999 game, but former QB Brandon Daniels quickly swung the momentum back in OU’s favor.
90 days! - Cale Gundy ends the first half of Bedlam ‘90 with a Hail Mary
Oklahoma State called a timeout with the intention of giving his team the opportunity to block a punt. Start the above video at around the 16-minute mark to hear about it in Pat Jones’ words.
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