Welcome back to another edition of our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff! With 57 days to go until the Oklahoma Sooners kick off the season, I’d like to take a look at one of the greatest players in the history of the program — 1969 Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens and his school record 57 career rushing touchdowns.
Blast from the past: Steve Owens, from Miami, Okla., ravaged defenses from 1967-69 and won the 1969 Heisman Trophy. pic.twitter.com/sHxhiRmR— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) March 8, 2012
Starting in 1967, RB Steve Owens proved himself to be one of the Sooners’ best offensive threats and one of the nation’s top scoring artists. His rushing style was tough and gritty, and he never ran away from contact. The bruiser crossed the goal line 13 times in his first season of duty, and helped first-year head coach Chuck Fairbanks lead Oklahoma to a 10-1 record and an Orange Bowl win over Tennessee.
The next season, while the Sooners struggled to repeat the successes from the year before, Owens continued to ascend as a weapon. He was nearly unstoppable, as defenses focused on simply trying to contain him. As he racked up the carries, he piled up the scores. By the end of the campaign, he added another 21 rushing TDs to his career total.
For his final run in an Crimson & Cream uniform, Steve Owens turned in his strongest season yet. The only downside of Oklahoma’s 1969 season was the lowly 6-4 record. Other than that, the Sooners’ feature back left everything he had on the field game after game en route to becoming OU’s second Heisman Trophy winner. After breaking the plane another 23 times, his career grand total for rushing TDs was up to 57. To this day, that mark stands as a program record, and since he set the new standard, the only players who have even come close are Billy Sims with 53, DeMarco Murray with 50, and Samaje Perine with 49.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
58 Days! - Hollywood goes 58 for six
On September 8, 2018, the UCLA Bruins strolled into Norman for a little Saturday dismantling. Oklahoma was 1-0 and firing on all cylinders in the second year of the Lincoln Riley head coaching era, while Kyler Murray was beginning to rev up his eventual Heisman Trophy campaign.
The Bruins weren’t planning on coming out totally flat, which was to be expected since Chip Kelly was roaming the sidelines in his first year back to coaching college football. UCLA managed to strike first following a long TD drive, giving Oklahoma its first deficit to climb out of in the season.
Of course, it didn’t take long for OU to tie the game up, and after getting a stop on defense, it was time to take the lead for good. On their own 42, Murray dropped back on 3rd and 14, found Marquise Brown, and the one they call ‘Hollywood’ did all the rest.
5⃣8⃣ Days Until ⭕️ Kickoff.— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) July 5, 2019
"Lights. Camera. Action. Hollywood Brown. 58 Yards. Game. Changer." — Gus Johnson
"Sometimes your Jimmies just gotta be better than their Joes." — Joel Klatt#OUDNA | #BoomerSoonerpic.twitter.com/lvkSFB5cCs
Coming back for the pass would have been the end of the play for most receivers, but not Hollywood. His otherworldly speed allowed him to get just enough separation from the incoming defenders, turn up field and turn on the jets. Once he was in the clear, there was no catching him. His abilities made that 58 yards look a lot shorter than it is.
Interestingly enough, UCLA actually did a somewhat solid job of limiting Oklahoma’s passing on the day. Brown finished with four catches for 88 yards, and this play was his lone touchdown of the game. Even though he didn’t record a large number of receptions, that 22.0 average isn’t too bad, and his team winning 49-21 sure makes up for any stat line.
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