1955 National Champions

OU History & Tradition | National Championships

1955 National Champions

Perhaps it was just another of his motivational ploys, but legendary head coach Bud Wilkinson said prior to the start of the season, "I don't think we're going to be nearly as good a football team as people think."

Apparently it took some convincing of the AP poll voters as well. It wasn't until the eighth week of the season that Oklahoma took over the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

By then, the Sooners were 26 games into a winning streak that would eventually reach an NCAA record of 47. If any doubt remained, Oklahoma polished off a perfect 11-0 record with four straight shutouts to end the regular season and a 20-6 victory over No. 3 Maryland in the Orange Bowl.

Wilkinson's guarded outlook before the season could be somewhat understood, as Oklahoma lost 14 letterwinners from the previous year, including three of four starters in the backfield.

Jimmy Harris was the heir apparent at quarterback, while Tommy McDonald and Billy Pricer took over at running back and fullback. Jerry Tubbs was moved from fullback to center to bolster a solid line which included the likes of All-American guard Bo Bolinger and tackle Ed Gray.

Despite all the new faces, the Sooners didn't miss a beat in 1955, leading the nation in total offense, rushing offense and scoring offense. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's defense shut out half the opponents they faced while holding four more to a touchdown or less.

The end result was OU's 10th straight conference title and a second national championship.

In the season opener against North Carolina, Oklahoma scored twice in the second half to come away with a 13-6 victory over the Tar Heels.

The Sooners dropped to No. 5 and hosted No. 12 Pittsburgh the following week. After rolling to a 19-0 halftime lead, OU held on for a 26-14 win.

The 1955 meeting with Texas marked the golden anniversary of the Red River Rivalry. It was Oklahoma's defense that shined in this one by picking off five Texas passes, including three by Tubbs, who also played linebacker. The Sooners pitched their sixth shutout in the series against the Longhorns and their first since 1938.

Oklahoma pounded Kansas the following week, 44-6. The Jayhawks took a 6-0 lead after driving 71 yards on the opening possession, but they wouldn't penetrate past midfield the rest of the game.

No. 14 Colorado was next, and the Buffaloes came in boasting a defense that had allowed only 19 points through their first four games. An innovater well ahead of his time, Wilkinson unveiled the no-huddle offense against CU, or the "no recovery" as he referred to it. The Sooners would quickly line up after the previous play and snap the ball before the defense had a chance to get set. The result was the Sooners running roughshod over the Colorado defense for eight touchdowns.

OU then hammered Kansas State, 40-7, before traveling to Columbia the following week to face Missouri, which was coming off an upset of Colorado. The Sooners would have none of it, however, shutting down the Tigers, 20-0.

Oklahoma replaced undefeated Maryland atop the AP poll, a post it wouldn't relinquish the rest of the year.

After dismantling Iowa State, 52-0, OU traveled to Nebraska with a chance to clinch the Big Seven title. Despite an unimpressive 5-4 overall record, the Huskers were also undefeated in the conference. A day before the game, NU coach Bill Grassford resigned, and the Sooners gave him a 41-0 going away present.

Days later, Oklahoma accepted a bid to play Maryland in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day. For the Sooners to claim the school's second national championship, however, they would first need a victory over Oklahoma State. It wasn't a problem, as the Sooners blasted the Aggies 53-0.

The Orange Bowl was the only bowl game to feature two unbeaten teams in 1955. The Terrapins came in seeking some revenge after OU ruined their perfect season two years earlier. Instead, Oklahoma kept its perfect record intact with a 20-6 win, leaving no doubt as to who the best team in the country was.

"That's the most satisfying victory we've ever had," Wilkinson said after the game, perhaps finally actualizing what he never thought possible at the beginning of the year.

OU History & Tradition | National Championships