1975 National Champions

OU History & Tradition | National Championships


Coming off its fourth national title, Oklahoma entered the 1975 season with the nation's longest winning streak at 20 games and had not lost in its last 29 contests.

Led by senior signal-caller Steve Davis, an ordained minister who had never quarterbacked a losing game at OU, the Sooners had plenty of weapons on offense. Halfbacks Joe Washington and Horace Ivory were speedy and elusive, and the receiving corps, paced by Tinker Owens and Billy Brooks, was among the best of the wishbone era.

Oklahoma's greatest asset, though, was on defense. Led by All-Americans Jimbo Elrod and Lee Roy and Dewey Selmon, the 1975 Sooner defense was among the best in the program's storied history. Lee Roy Selmon would go on to win both the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award as the nation's best lineman.

Through the first eight games, the Sooners mixed impressive blowouts with narrow wins, which resulted in losing the No. 1 ranking while building an 8-0 start.

OU opened the '75 campaign by crushing the Oregon Ducks, 62-7, while amassing 616 yards of total offense, 544 of which came on the ground. The Sooner defense forced 10 Oregon turnovers and held the Ducks to 162 total yards.

OU blasted No. 15 Pittsburgh the following week, 46-10. The Panthers featured star running back Tony Dorsett, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1976. The Sooner defense, however, held Dorsett to just 17 yards on 12 carries, the worst performance of his collegiate career. Instead, it was Oklahoma's running back who starred. Joe Washington scored three touchdowns and ran for 166 yards on 23 carries.

In a rare Friday contest on September 26, approximately 6,000 OU fans ventured to Miami to see the Sooners squeak by the Hurricanes, 20-17, at the Orange Bowl. The Canes played their home games on Friday nights because they shared the stadium the NFL's Miami Dolphins. The Sooners jumped out to a 20-7 lead and held off a 10-point Miami rally in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory.

Next up for the Sooners was No. 19 Colorado, who brought a 3-0 record and the naiton's No. 1 offense to Norman. The vaunted Sooner wishbone offense looked abysmal against the Buffaloes, and Oklahoma surrendered a 14-point lead in the second half. Colorado closed the gap to one point with just over a minute remaining in the contest on an eight-yard touchdown pass. And even though kicker Tom Mackenzie had missed two field goals earlier in the game, CU coach Bill Mallory opted not to go for the win with a two-point conversion. Mackenzie's game-tying attempt sailed wide again, and the Sooners held on for the 21-20 victory, though they were overtaken by Ohio State in the polls.

Against Texas, it was neither of the star tailbacks, OU's Joe Washington or UT's Earl Campbell, who shined brightest. Horace Ivory's 33-yard bolt down the sidelines in the fourth quarter made the difference in the Cotton Bowl, giving Oklahoma a 24-17 victory over its arch-rival.

The Sooners thrashed Kansas State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State by a combined score of 91-17 the next three weeks, but then came the November nightmares.

Oklahoma was upset against unranked Kansas, 23-3, ending the impressive unbeaten streak. The following week at No. 18 Missouri, the Sooners needed Washington's 71-yard touchdown run on a critical fourth-down play, and his subsequent run for the two-point conversion, in the final five minutes to take a 28-27 lead. Then they survived two missed field goal attempts by the Tigers in the final two minutes to escape with a win.

Entering the final regular season game against No. 2 Nebraska, the once seemingly unbeatable Sooners were not only searching for their identity, but were also looking to salvage a season that had begun with expectations for a repeat national title. The usual stakes were on the line -- a Big Eight title and possible national championship implications.

As it turned out, it wasn't even close. The Sooners forced six Nebraska turnovers, including three in the fourth quarter, and converted five into touchdowns, running away with a convincing 25-point victory over the Huskers.

Once again, it was Oklahoma that claimed the conference crown, and the No. 3 Sooners headed to their first bowl game under Barry Switzer, an Orange Bowl matchup with Michigan.

Then all the pieces fell into place. UCLA upset top-ranked Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, and OU prevailed in the slugfest over the Wolverines. A 39-yard end around by Billy Brooks and a nine-yard keeper by Steve Davis were enough for the 14-6 victory.

The following day, Oklahoma moved to the top of the polls to capture the program's fifth national championship, becoming the first team in NCAA history to win back-to-back titles twice (1955-56 and 1974-75).

OU History & Tradition | National Championships