Oklahoma and Oregon will meet for the eighth time on the gridiron on December 29 at the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Sooners and Ducks will battle it out for the second time on a neutral gridiron at the Alamodome, not far from the grandeur of San Antonio’s Riverwalk.
Sooner fans have departed happy in six of the past seven encounters with the Ducks. The last one, a first in Eugene, Oregon, left crimson clads in a fowl, rather foul mood.
History: Oklahoma vs Oregon
After destroying West Virginia in the season opener in 1958, the Sooners rose to the top of the rankings and were favored by three touchdowns when Oregon came to Norman for the first meeting. Both teams blew opportunities to score. The Sooners’ lone score came after recovering a fumble at the Oregon 17 in the second quarter. Oklahoma struggled to gain a first down and faced fourth-and-two at the Ducks’ 9. Sooner coach Bud Wilkinson gambled instead of kicking a field goal. Quarterback Bobby Boyd lofted a pass to Dick Carpenter, who was wide open in the southeast corner of the end zone. Boyd was stopped short of the goal line on the two-point try; 1958 just so happened to be the first year that college football implemented the two-point conversion.
Eight years later, the Ducks returned to Norman to open the season for Sooner coach Jim Mackenzie’s debut. Both teams battled to a scoreless first half, and then the Sooners scored on their first three possessions of the second half. The first came on Eddie Hinton’s 63-yard punt return. A field goal on the next series gave Oklahoma a 10-0 lead. Oregon fumbled the ensuing kickoff return, and the Sooners recovered on the Ducks’ 38. Quarterback Bob Warmack carried 36 yards to the two, and Ron Shotts blasted through on the next play.
The next three meetings were blowouts. Barry Switzer’s Sooners, which deployed the Wishbone attack, blasted the Ducks 68-3 in 1972 and 62-7 three years later on their way to the 1975 national championship. Oklahoma scored three second-half touchdowns to defeat the Ducks 31-7 in 2004—the first of three meetings for Bob Stoops’ Sooners and Oregon’s Mike Bellotti in a span of three years. The next meeting was slated for Eugene, Oregon for the first time in 2006, but both teams were invited to the Holiday Bowl in 2005.
The 10-1 Ducks and 7-4 Sooners met in San Diego on December 29, the exact date of this year’s Alamo Bowl. Oregon, ranked sixth in the AP poll and fifth by the coaches, was favored by three points. Oklahoma held a 17-14 lead with three-and-a-half minutes remaining, and the Ducks threatened to score with a drive to the Sooners’ 19 with less than a minute to play. Oregon quarterback Brady Leaf tossed a pass to Demetrius Williams, but Oklahoma linebacker Clint Ingram leaped up and snared the pass on the 10-yard line with 33 seconds remaining.
The Onside Kick of 2006
A year later witnessed the strangest ending to a game. Both teams were undefeated at 2-0 when the No. 15 Sooners traveled to Eugene against the No. 18 Ducks, who were favored by 3.5 points.
Oklahoma held a 33-20 lead with 3:12 remaining, but Oregon closed the gap with a 65-yard drive with 1:12 to go. The Ducks tried an onside kick, which did not travel the required 10 yards. One Oregon player touched the ball after it traveled nine yards, which should have been the Sooners’ ball. After the players unpiled, officials gave possession to the Ducks, even though OU’s Allen Patrick came up with the possession. Gordon Riese, the replay official in the booth, did not reverse the decision stating that a Sooner had touched the ball first. Oregon maintained possession at its 48-yard line.
Here’s the video:
“That’s illegal touching and interfering with the reception,” Stoops explained. “And then I see my guy (Patrick) get up with the football that’s laying on the ground.”
“No question, that’s got to be Oklahoma’s ball,” Dan Fouts, the broadcast analyst for the game, said during the review.
“That’s a horrible call by the review referee,” noted play-by-play announcer Tim Brandt.
“That’s a bad call,” Fouts responded to the erroneous decision.
Two plays later, Oklahoma cornerback Darrien Williams gets flagged for pass interference, and the play had to be reviewed because it appeared end C.J. Ah You had tipped the pass. This would have nullified the pass interference. Again, the review was “inconclusive,” and officials moved the ball to the OU 23.
Stoops believed the interference call would be nullified, and he had no timeouts remaining to make a challenge. He raced to one official on the sideline and pleaded, “You can review a tip, can’t you? It’s a tipped ball.”
Stoops got his wish, but officials did not overturn their decision.
“They said they didn’t see it, “Stoops said after the game. “They said they didn’t see it. They can explain that. I don’t know how.”
One play later, the Ducks’ Brian Paysinger hauled in a TD pass to lift the Ducks to a 34-33 lead with 46 ticks on the clock.
The Sooners’ Reggie Smith returned the kickoff 55 yards to the Oregon 27. Two plays later, Garrett Hartley’s field goal try was blocked, and the Ducks escaped with the win.
Pac-10 Conference officials were later suspended one game by its league for the erroneous calls.
“In a game, I’d love to have a chance to replay it and do it over,” Stoops said days later.
He gets another crack at Oregon as the Sooners’ interim head coach for the Alamo Bowl.