1985 National Champions
A physical defense featuring three All-Americans and a lightnig-quick, option-oriented offense paced by true freshman QB Jamelle Holieway led Oklahoma to the 1985 national crown.
OU didn't open the '85 season until September 28 when the team traveled north to play Minnesota at the Metrodome. A fumbled punt late in the fourth quarter turned a somewhat lackluster contest into a real seat-squirmer that the No. 2 Sooners finally won, 13-7.
The running of Lydell Carr and the passing of Troy Aikman were headline attractions the next week for OU as the Sooners opened Big Eight Conference play with a 41-6 win against Kansas State in Manhattan.
The Sooners then headed across the Red River to the Cotton Bowl for the annual showdown with the Texas Longhorns. The usual sellout crowd of more than 75,000 saw the Sooners completely shut down the Longhorn offense, holding UT to just four first downs (none in the second half) and only 70 yards of total offense (including -24 in the second half).
"This was the greatest defensive performance by an Oklahoma team since I have been here and that's 20 years including the time I was an assistant," said head coach Barry Switzer following the win.
Sooner linebacker Brian Bosworth was named Big Eight Defensive Player of the Week for his performance, which included 14 tackles, two stops for 15 yards in losses and one interception. OU played without All-America noseguard Tony Casillas who injured a knee in the game's first series.
Oklahoma finally returned to Norman to host the Miami Hurricanes on October 19. A razor-sharp passing performance by UM quarterback Vinny Testaverde led the Hurricanes to a 27-14 upset of the No. 3 Sooners. OU quarterback Troy Aikman was injured in the second period and freshman quarterback Jamelle Holieway was called in for service.
The Sooners regrouped and rolled through their next four opponents with a combined score of 189-26. Holieway set a single-game total offense record at Missouri with 324 yards (156 rushing and 168 passing), breaking the old mark (323 yards) set in 1971 by Jack Mildren against Iowa State.
OU next hosted the No. 2 Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 23. A capacity crowd in Norman and a national television audience watched the Sooners pile up more than 450 yards of total offense in a surprisingly easy 27-7 conquest of the Huskers.
While the Sooners took great liberties with Nebraska's nationally-rated defense, their own defenders held the nation's best running game to only 161 yards. The visitor's only touchdown came with less than a minute to play when a Sooner halfback fumbled into the arms of defensive tackle Chris Spachman who returned it 76 yards.
Sophomore tight end Keith Jackson, who led all rushers with 136 yards on three end around reverses, was named the Big Eight Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
One of OU's most memorable games against Oklahoma State was played on November 30 in Stillwater. The game, first in the history of the series to be played at night, was contested in the worst weather conditions imaginable. While the temperature fell to the low 20s (with a wind chill near zero) during the game, rain, sleet and gusty, shifting winds combined to turn the field into a skating rink.
The Sooner defense was again impenetrable, never allowing the Cowboys inside their own 21-yard line and letting them across midfield only four times. Meanwhile, the OU offense took advantage of great field position to move the ball well enough to score two field goals and a touchdown. The 13-0 win is remembered in Sooner lore as the "Ice Bowl".
OU finished its regular season with a 35-13 win against SMU in Norman and headed for Miami.
Oklahoma took a No. 3 national ranking into the Orange Bowl, but toppled No. 1 Penn State, 25-10. That, coupled with Miami's loss in the Sugar Bowl, vaulted the Sooners to their sixth national championship.
A record field goal performance from Tim Lashar and a defense that swarmed everything that moved were the key ingredients. Holieway, who led OU to eight straight wins after taking over as the starter, hit All-American tight end Keith Jackson on a 71-yard pass play and Lydell Carr ran 61 yards for another TD. Carr was the game's leading rusher with 148 yards on 19 carries. Lashar added four field goals.
OU's defense held Penn State to only 10 first downs and just 77 yards rushing, while intercepting four passes. Butkus Award winner Brian Bosworth was credited with 13 solo tackles.
The victory over No. 1 Penn State plus a resounding Tennessee conquest over No. 2 Miami eliminated the only other pretenders to the throne, leaving Oklahoma as the overwhelming choice when AP and UPI voters cast their ballots the next day.