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2019 Oklahoma Sooners Football Countdown to Kickoff | 78 Days!

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OU may not have won it all in 1978, but that was one of the greatest teams Barry Switzer ever coached.

Barry Switzer/Tom Osborne

What’s up, everyone? I’m here with you once again to update our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff series! With only 78 days remaining until OU takes on Houston, I’d like to use this opportunity to talk about one of the best teams to ever grace Owen Field despite missing out on a chance to play for a national championship. I’m talking about the 1978 Oklahoma Sooners.

Coming off a major upset loss against Arkansas in the 1978 Orange Bowl, Barry Switzer was aiming for a bounce-back run from his Sooners. Oklahoma opened up the ‘78 season ranked No. 4 in the nation, and after three convincing wins over Stanford, West Virginia and Rice, the Crimson & Cream were back atop the AP Poll.

From then on, the victories continued to roll in. Oklahoma defeated a pair of ranked Missouri and Texas squads in consecutive weeks to further cement its No. 1 status. Then the Sooners had to survive a one-point close call against Kansas before proceeding to blow out Iowa State, Kansas State and Colorado.

In the annals of OU Football, the 1978 team was known for a balance of dominance on both sides of the ball. Switzer’s squad was led on offense by junior All-American RB Billy Sims, QB Thomas Lott, WR Bobby Kimball and OG Greg Roberts, while LB Daryl Hunt, DB Darrol Ray and DL Reggie Kinlaw fortified the defense. The 28 total interceptions and 50 total takeaways are the most in a single season for any team in Oklahoma’s history. This group also had the most rushing touchdowns in a year (56), and the second-most total rushing yards (5,001).

Upon reaching 9-0, OU was clearly regarded as the top team in the land. Only two games remained before bowl season, meaning a possible chance to play for another national title was well within reach. That is, unless Nebraska had something to say about it first. And as the story goes, that’s how it played out.

In one of the more memorable games in the storied history between the Sooners and the Cornhuskers, a fourth-quarter field goal proved to be just enough for Nebraska to pull off the upset over Oklahoma. In the updated rankings the following week, OU fell three spots, and not even a 62-7 Bedlam thrashing of Oklahoma State would be enough to restore any chances at a national championship.

Instead, the consolation prize was Billy Sims winning the Heisman Trophy. That, and another Orange Bowl appearance. What made it all at least a little sweeter for OU was the fact that this final game was a rematch versus Nebraska — the same bunch who had ruined their perfect season less than two months prior. Oklahoma would get its revenge, 31-24 after staving off a late Husker run. Switzer’s ‘78 Big 8 co-champs finished the season with a record of 11-1.

Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:

79 Days! - Oklahoma destroys North Texas, 79-10

The year was 2007, and a brand new crop of some all-time Sooners began their careers with a colossal 79-10 thumping of North Texas in the season opener. That’s the most points OU has scored in a game since 1980.

Little did Oklahoma fans know at the time, but some pretty serious history was being made when this one kicked off. Eventual Heisman Trophy winning QB Sam Bradford made his collegiate debut versus the Mean Green, as did RB DeMarco Murray and DT Gerald McCoy. With that in mind, what ensued during this night was almost as remarkable as each of their prolific Sooner careers.

Now blowouts are nothing new for top tier teams like Oklahoma in season openers, but this was on another level of domination. So how bad was it? OU scored its first touchdown 32 seconds into the game, and 10 more TDs followed before the final whistle blew. At the half it was 49-0. Yup.

The detail I find most telling about how one-sided this game actually was came at the end of the third quarter. With the Sooners’ advantage at 63-3 heading into the final 15, Bob Stoops convened with officials and proposed a running clock to help finish the game more quickly. Ultimately his request was not fulfilled, so the fourth quarter went by painfully slow. The cherry on top of the scoreboard for OU was a safety sack by DL John Williams.

By the end of the contest, a grand total of 64 Sooners saw the field, including the three aforementioned studs. Bradford finished his day early, obviously, completing a staggering 21-23 passes for 363 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. Murray set the record for the most rushing touchdowns in a debut with five, including four in the first half. Like I said, Oklahoma straight up thumped this team.

Relive the highlights in all their grainy glory right here. I’m so thankful for high definition.

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