Examining The Series History Of Ohio State Versus Oklahoma

By Chris Lauderback on July 28, 2016 at 1:05 pm
The Sooner Schooner on the move. Yay.

It's seems almost impossible to believe when you consider Ohio State and Oklahoma have combined to play over 2,400 football games but the reality is that the two college football bluebloods have met on the gridiron just twice.

This September, the two football factories will add another tilt to the history books as the Buckeyes head to Norman to battle the Sooners in a primetime showdown staged in venerable Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. 

The upcoming battle will likely feature a pair of top 10 teams just as the two previous matchups did dating back to 1977 and 1983. 

Today, we take a trip down memory lane and revisit the two showdowns which left the series split at one game apiece meaning September's clash will serve as the rubber match. 


The first ever meeting between the two schools came way back on September 24, 1977 in Columbus. 

Woody Hayes was in his 27th season at the helm of the Buckeyes while Barry Switzer was in the midst of his 5th season in Norman. 

With both teams ranked in the top four of the AP Poll entering the game with perfect 2-0 marks and featuring top six rushing attacks, a record crowd of 88,119 in the Shoe expected a back and forth affair. 

Things didn't quite turn out that way at first as Oklahoma took a 7-0 lead on a fluke fumble by OU fullback Kenny King that was kicked downfield by Buckeye defensive end Paul Ross before eventually being scooped up by Sooner tailback Elvis Peacock who scampered into the endzone for a 33-yard touchdown. 

After Rod Gerald fumbled at the OSU 17-yard line on the ensuing possession, the situation got worse as Tom Cousineau separated his shoulder on a 1st down tackle. The very next play, redshirt freshman Billy Sims rolled 15 yards up the gut and just like that it was 14-0 Sooners in front of a hushed crowd. 

A Buckeye 3-and-out followed and after the ensuing Sooner drive stalled at the OSU 9, Uwe von Schamann drilled a 23-yard field goal making it 17-0 bad guys, still in the 1st quarter. 

Ohio State's offense again responded with a 3-and-out and shortly after von Schamann kicked another field goal putting the Buckeyes in a 20-0 hole early in the 2nd quarter leading ABC to switch to regional coverage. 

Uwe von Schamann's 41-yarder with :03 left gave Oklahoma the victory. (Photo via newsok.com)

Just as all hoped appeared lost the Buckeyes finally got their act together late in the 2nd quarter with a pair of touchdowns aided by Sooner miscues. 

A seven-play, 81-yard drive got the Buckeyes in the endzone after a Sooner late hit gave OSU its first 1st down of the afternoon cutting the deficit to 20-7 with 10 minutes left in the half. 

After a touchback gave quarterback Thomas Lott possession at the Sooner 20, Lott fumbled a handoff to Peacock and the Buckeyes jumped on the football at the 19. One play later, Gerald raced around the right side for a touchdown giving the Buckeyes two scores in under a minute of action, trimming the OU lead to 20-14 and rounding out the 1st half scoring.

Riding momentum in front of the home crowd, Ohio State found the endzone twice more in the 3rd quarter giving it 28 straight points and a 28-20 lead via a one-yard plunge from freshman fullback James Payton and a Jimmy Moore touchdown reception with 4:44 left in the quarter following Oklahoma's fifth turnover of the game. 

The teams played to a stalemate until late in the 4th quarter before a fumble by backup Buckeye signal-caller Greg Castignola at the OSU 43 gave the Sooners hope with 6:23 left in the game. Peacock capped a near-five minute drive with a short touchdown plunge cutting Ohio State's lead to 28-26 which would stay that way after a thwarted two-point conversion attempt by Oklahoma. 

Forced to try an onside kick, Barry Switzer's crew pulled off the low percentage play giving them possession at midfield and needing just a field goal to take the lead. 

A 17-yard completion started the drive and two more plays advanced the football to the OSU 23 with six seconds left in regulation. Out came von Schamann to attempt a game-winning 41-yard field goal. After joining in a "block that kick" chant to taunt the crowd, von Schamann split the uprights to win the game giving Oklahoma the most points against an Ohio State defense in over four years. 

Woody's squad would go on to post a disappointing 9-3 mark with losses to Michigan and Alabama to cap the season and Ohio State would have to wait six more years for another crack at the Sooners. 


After falling to Oklahoma 29-28 in the Shoe back in 1977 as part of the first ever game between the two tradition-rich programs, the Buckeyes traveled to Norman in 1983 looking for revenge.

The ’77 tilt featured Woody versus Switzer but this time around the Oklahoma head coach sought career victory No. 100 against Earle Bruce, now in his 5th season in Columbus. 

With both teams ranked in the top six of the AP Poll the expectation was another instant classic but it didn’t quite live up to the hype though Ohio State pulled the upset 24-14 in front of 76,520 Sooner faithful.

Unlike the ’77 matchup that saw the Buckeyes fall way behind early, Earle’s troops started fast on a sweltering day thanks largely to the efforts of junior quarterback Mike Tomczak and senior tight end John Frank.

Tight end John Frank lit up the Sooners with 108 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Frank, despite the game being staged on Yom Kippur, still played despite his Jewish heritage and connected with Tomczak for two first half touchdowns as part of a stellar five catch, 108 yard afternoon.

Boasting a 14-0 lead in the 2nd quarter, Ohio State leaned on its offensive line and a stout defense that held Sooner star running back Marcus Dupree to 30 yards and a fumble before he was forced to exit in the 1st half due to injury. In his absence, freshman Spencer Tillman got loose for a 37-yard touchdown jaunt cutting the Buckeye lead to 14-7 at intermission.

Looking to take control of the game Ohio State opened the 2nd half with a 57-yard march to paydirt capped by fullback Vaughan Broadnax’s plunge to take a 21-7 lead. The Sooners refused to go away however as OU quarterback Danny Bradley found Derrick Shepard for six cutting the OSU cushion to 21-14 toward the end of the 3rd quarter.

That’s as close as the Sooners would get however as Rich Spangler added a 21-yard field goal with nine minutes to play stretching the lead to 24-14 which eventually became the game’s final margin.

When the dust settled the Buckeye defense held the Sooners to a modest 14 first downs and a 41% completion rate with a turnover while Ohio State’s offense moved the chains 24 times headlined by Frank’s huge day.

As you probably figured out since this squad was coached by Earle, the Buckeyes went on to post a 9-3 overall record, finishing 9th in the AP Poll following their Fiesta Bowl win over Pitt. Ohio State’s three losses that season came the week after the big win at Oklahoma as the 7th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 20-14 in Kinnick Stadium, three weeks after that when OSU fell 17-13 to No. 19 Illinois in Champaign, and finally, in The Game when No. 8 Michigan posted a 24-21 win in Ann Arbor.

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