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OU's legendary coach talks upsets,
and bouncing back after a tough loss
In each new edition of Sooner Spectator, we ask legendary coach Barry Switzer to share his thoughts on a number of topics, ranging from football to food to his favorite anecdotes. In this installment of King's Corner, he talks about the similarities between his 1975 Sooners and the 2017 OU squad.
Sooner Spectator: OU recently lost a stunning game to Iowa State and then blew a big lead vs. Texas, only to rebound and win. Does that remind you of the 1975 Sooners falling to unranked Kansas and then blowing a big lead to Missouri the following Saturday?
Barry Switzer: Yes, there are some similarities. But really, that's just part of college football. Upsets are going to happen. We went into that Kansas game in 1975 having won 28 games in a row and we were obviously a much better team than Kansas, although they had some good talent and finished something like 7-4 that season. We were 8-0 going into the game and basically did about everything we could to help them win that day. I forget how many times we fumbled that day but I believe it was like nine times and lost four of those. Kansas was running the wishbone (offense) and with us turning it over and them running the ball and using the clock, it wasn't a good combination for us. Nolan Cromwell was their quarterback and they had a good offensive football team.
I have the stats from that game right here. We had 60 snaps for 265 rushing yards and they had 66 snaps for 235 yards. Kansas did not attempt a single pass that day. We lost four fumbles and Kansas did not have a turnover. That's how you lose a game like that. You give the other team too much help in the way your team plays. It was a crushing defeat because of what it potentially does to your goals and your season. That's pretty much what happened to Oklahoma against Iowa State a few weeks ago. Iowa State played pretty well and OU just gave them too much help.
SS: What about the week following the 1975 loss to Kansas — how did your team respond?
Switzer: We got off to a great start and went up 20-0 on the road at Missouri, and damn if we don't let Missouri back in the ballgame and eventually take the lead on us. It took back-to-back special plays by Joe Washington to help us win that game. Probably two of the biggest plays in Oklahoma football history because if not for those two plays, we don't win the national title that season. Fourth-and-2 and Joe Washington goes 72 yards for a touchdown with three minutes to go, and then scores a two-point conversion run to put us up 28-27. We go on to win the game and then came back home to kick Nebraska's ass to win the Big Eight championship and set up the Orange Bowl game with Michigan, which helped us win the national championship.
SS: That Missouri game sounds a lot like Oklahoma and Texas this season?
Switzer: Very similar. Coach Riley's team got out to a 20-0 lead, looked good — but didn't put the game away. We did the same thing at Missouri that day. OU let Texas come all the way back and take the lead, which meant the Sooners had to find a way to rally to win the game after losing that big lead. And they did, which was a big win for that team.
SS: Looking back at Oklahoma's rivalries with Texas and Nebraska during your time as head coach — did you get more satisfaction from beating one of those two teams?
Switzer: Obviously, they were both important games. And both were very different because of where they fell in the schedule and what they meant to our success. But the truth is, the Texas game was almost always the most important game for Oklahoma because of what it meant to our season but also because of what it meant to our recruiting. We always had so many talented players from Texas on our roster — if you lost that game, it had repercussions where recruiting was concerned.
(Editor's Note: This version of King's Corner appears in Sooner Spectator's OU-Texas Review Issue, Oct./Nov. 2017. To read more, call 405-364-4515)