Welcome back to another installment in our 2020 Countdown to Kickoff series! As of today, the Oklahoma Sooners are slated to begin season four of the Lincoln Riley head coaching era in 92 days! With that in mind, let’s take a look back at one of the most dominant units in program history. Led by Barry ‘The King’ Switzer, the OU defense in 1974 was loaded with talent, and managed to give up just 92 points en route to an 11-0 record and a national title.
Oklahoma Sooners head coach Barry Switzer, 1974 pic.twitter.com/lLNUxRuJln— SportsPaper (@SportsPaperInfo) February 3, 2016
Never mind the outstanding wishbone offense Switzer employed during his incredible run as the Sooners’ leader, the defenses his teams boasted were consistently elite. That said, it could be argued that Oklahoma’s defense in 1974 was the most impressive under The King’s reign. Leading the way for this deep group were All-American caliber talents up front like OU royalty Lee Roy and Dewey Selmon, linebackers Rod Shoate and Jimbo Elrod, and defensive back Randy Hughes.
Now before I break down the numbers to illustrate how dominant Oklahoma was on defense in 1974, it must be mentioned that at the time the Sooners were serving their second season of a two-year postseason ban due to recruiting violations committed during the Chuck Fairbanks era. To date, this represents the last instance in which a college football team has claimed a national championship without making a bowl appearance.
Even though it’s a mild tragedy that there isn’t any documented television footage from OU’s 1974 season, the games were still played and the stats were still recorded. Those fortunate enough to be in attendance during that season remember what they witnessed — pure greatness.
Now get this — Only two teams (‘49 and ‘55) in program history can say they’ve held their opponents to fewer points while also going undefeated in as many games. Beyond holding the competition to a combined total of 92 points (8.4 ppg), the ‘74 Sooners also kept the opposition out of the end zone four different times (Utah State, Wake Forest, Kansas State and Missouri), including three shut outs. Last but not least, in the Bedlam season finale, OU stymied Oklahoma State for a net total of zero passing yards.
With the present age of college football so heavily influenced by its offenses, the days of running through an entire schedule without eclipsing the triple-digit points mark on defense are likely over. That alone makes this feat even more remarkable in retrospect.
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