Welcome back to another exciting edition of our Countdown to Kickoff series! Today, there are 47 days remaining until the Oklahoma Sooners are scheduled to open the college football season against Missouri State. Speaking of 47, I want to throw it back to one of the most legendary runs in sports history — OU’s 47-game winning streak from 1953 to 1957.
Under Bud Wilkinson, the Sooners were among the cream of the college football crop. During his 17-year tenure as Oklahoma’s head coach, he claimed three national championships and 14 Big Eight Conference titles. While all of that is amazing in its own right, perhaps his greatest feat was manning the most prolific winning streak the game has ever known.
OU opened the 1953 season against top-ranked Notre Dame, but ultimately lost in a valiant effort, 28-21. The following week, the Sooners made a trip to Pittsburgh, where they would tie with the Panthers, 7-7. It wasn’t the kind of start Oklahoma had hoped for, but it was the start of run no one would soon forget.
The first of 47-straight wins came against Texas, fittingly enough. From then on, the ‘53 Sooners ran the table to a 9-1-1 finish. The following season, Wilkinson’s squad went 10-0, but were kept out of the national championship picture thanks to Ohio State and UCLA’s also pristine records. Still, nothing was going to slow down this program for quite some time.
In 1955 and 1956, Oklahoma continued its unprecedented streak, finishing 11-0 and 10-0, respectively. In doing so, Wilkinson claimed his second and third national titles, solidifying his place among the greatest football coaches of all-time.
As frustrating as it may be for Sooner fans, OU’s unbeaten streak of 48 games was book-ended by losses to the Fighting Irish, with both defeats coming by seven points each. In 1957, Notre Dame came to Norman once again, this time shutting out Oklahoma on its home turf with just one touchdown on the scoreboard to show for itself.
Since then, other programs have gone on long winning streaks, but none have truly come close to matching what the Sooners did over 60 years ago. In history, the next longest belongs to the Washington Huskies at 40 (1908-1914). In recent memory, both Miami (2000-2002) and USC (2003-2005) reached 34 consecutive wins before falling in defeat, although the Trojans were forced to vacate 14 of those victories due to NCAA violations. Currently, the LSU Tigers claim the longest active streak in the FBS at 16, while the North Dakota State Bison maintain the greatest ongoing run across all Divisions at 37.
Countdown Bonus: 48 Days — Curtis Bolton scoops and scores from 48 yards out in Morgantown!
The year was 2018. Late into the month of November, the Sooners were 10-1 and still in contention for a berth in the College Football Playoff. Of course, OU would have to win out to have a chance for the semifinals, and that meant defeating a capable West Virginia Mountaineers squad led by head coach Dana Holgorsen and QB Will Grier.
As was the case with most of Oklahoma’s games, an offensive shootout erupted. Both teams traded touchdowns with no regard for defensive stops. However, interim OU DC Ruffin McNeill’s bunch managed to create a bit of game-changing pressure on a few occasions. In the first half, junior LB Caleb Kelly rushed the Mountaineers’ QB, forced a fumble and returned it for a score all on his own. Then in the fourth quarter, a trio of Sooner defenders combined to pull off one of the more amazing plays of the season. Check it out.
4⃣8⃣ Days Until ⭕️ .— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) July 19, 2020
Ronnie Perkins with the pressure, Kenneth Mann forces the fumble and Curtis Bolton scoops and scores a 48-yard touchdown in 2018 against West Virginia.#OUDNA | #BoomerSoonerpic.twitter.com/aWPs8LirAP
Grier felt true freshman DE Ronnie Perkins closing in on him fast inside the pocket. He managed to wrap him up, but it wasn’t enough to bring the Heisman Trophy contender down. That’s when team captain DE Kenneth Mann flew in to finish the job. Mission accomplished, yes, but as he made the tackle against the QB, the ball came loose. Curtis Bolton tracked the fumble down, and before any WVU players could reach him, he was off to the races with a Crimson & Cream convoy behind him. 48 yards later — boom.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t Buzzy’s only touchdown of his senior season. The linebacker out of Murrieta, California also scored on a pair of blocked punts against Florida Atlantic and Kansas. Not only was he a scoring machine of sorts, he was one of the best tacklers on the team. His 139 total stops ranked second behind Kenneth Murray’s 155 on the year, and against Army he racked up 23 tackles, which is still good for second-best in a single game in program history.
Although he wasn’t picked during the 2019 NFL Draft, Bolton signed with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent and made a ton of noise during the preseason before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Check him out on the receiving end of this tip-INT versus the Baltimore Ravens. Some guys are just drawn to the football like a magnet.
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