The End of the

Greatest Streak


The University of Oklahoma holds the NCAA record for most consecutive wins by a major college program at 47-straight. The streak spanned five seasons from 1953-57. Oklahoma lost to Notre Dame, 28-21, in the 1953 season opener and tied Pittsburgh, 7-7, the next week. The streak began with a 19-14 win against archrival Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Oct. 10, 1953.


Oklahoma rolled through the rest of the 1953 season and capped a 9-1-1 campaign with a 7-0 shutout of Maryland in the Orange Bowl in Miami.


The Sooners went 10-0 in 1954 and 11-0 in 1955. The 30th-straight win came against Maryland, again in the Orange Bowl, on January 1, 1956, and the Sooners claimed their second National Championship.


OU's Jay O'Neil scores in 40-0 route at Notre Dame in '56.

OU won its 35th consecutive game with a 40-0 rout of Notre Dame in South Bend on Oct. 27, 1956. Oklahoma finished the season a perfect 10-0 with the streak at 40 games. The Sooners were again voted National Champions.


On Nov. 9, 1957, in Columbia, Mo., Oklahoma won its 47th-consecutive game with a 39-14 victory against the Missouri Tigers. The streak came to an end on Nov. 16, 1957, when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish claimed a 7-0 victory at Owen Field in Norman. The Sooners won the remainder of their games in 1957 and finished with a 48-21 victory against Duke in the Orange Bowl to post a 10-1 record.


Oklahoma's 47-game winning streak is considered one of the greatest feats in major college football history. Amazingly, head coach Bud Wilkinson also led Oklahoma on a 31-game winning streak from 1948-50. That streak ranks eighth on the NCAA's all-time major college football winning streak list.


Since World War I, there have been only four streaks of more than 30 wins in major college football. OU owns two of the four. Toledo won 35 in a row from 1969-71 and the Miami Hurricanes won 34-straight from 2000-02.


-From the University of Oklahoma Athletic Department




Notre Dame Ends Oklahoma Win, Scoring Streaks



NORMAN, Okla, (AP)- Oklahoma's all-time record of 47 straight football victories was shattered yesterday by an underdog Notre Dame team that marched 80 yards on the ground in the closing minutes for the all-important touchdown and a 7-0 triumph.


Oklahoma, No. 2 ranked in the nation and an 18-point favorite, couldn't move against the rock-wall Notre Dame line and the Sooners saw another of its national records broken- scoring in 123 consecutive games.


The defeat was only the 9th for Oklahoma Coach Bud Wilkinson since he became head coach at Oklahoma in 1947 and virtually ended any chance for the Sooners getting a third straight national championship.


Although the partisan, sellout crowd of 62,000 came out for a Roman holiday, they were stunned into silence as the Sooners were unable to pull their usual last-quarter winning touchdowns- a Wilkinson team trademark. As the game ended, when Oklahoma's desperation passing drive was cutoff by an intercepted aerial, the crowd rose as one and suddenly gave the Notre Dame team a rousing cheer.


It was a far cry from last year when the Sooners ran over Notre Dame 40-0. The victory gave the Irish a 3-1 edge in the five-year-old series dating back to 1952.


OU's QB, Brewster Hobby, is brought down by Pietrosante.

The smashing, rocking Notre Dame line didn't permit the Sooners to get started either on the ground or in the air. The Sooners were able to make only 98 yards on the ground and, in the air, just 47. Notre Dame, paced by its brilliant, 210-pound fullback Nick Pietrosante, rolled up 169. In the air, the Irish gained 79 yards, hitting 9 of 20 passes, with Bob Williams doing most of the passing.


Notre Dame’s lone touchdown drive, biting off short but consistent yardage against the Sooners' alternate team, carried from the 20 after an Oklahoma punt went into the end zone.


Time after time, Pietrosante picked up the necessary yard when he needed it as the Irish smashed through the Oklahoma line. Notre Dame moved to the 8 and the Sooner first team came in to try to make the third Sooner goal line stand of the day. Pietrosante smashed four yards through center and Dick Lynch was stopped for no gain. On the third down, Williams went a yard through center


Then Lynch, who had failed to score from the one-foot line in the second period, crossed up the Sooners and rolled around his right end to score standing up. Monty Stickles converted to give Notre Dame the upset and end collegiate football's longest winning streak.


The closest Oklahoma could get to Notre Dame's goal was in the first quarter when the Sooners' alternate team moved to the 3 before being held on downs. In the third period, brilliant punting by first string halfback Clendon Thomas and alternate quarterback David Baker kept Notre Dame back on its own goal line but the Sooners couldn't capitalize.


Thomas set punts down on the Notre Dame 15 and 4 and Baker put them down on the 3 and 7 and waited for the breaks that have come the Sooners' way in the past to help them keep up their streak through 47 games. This time there were no breaks as Notre Dame shook off last week's jitters that saw the Irish fumble away the ball five times to let Michigan State have an easy 34-6 victory.


Williams passes for in winning drive for ND.

Pietrosante scored almost a third of Notre Dame's rushing yardage as he made 56 yards on 17 carries. Lynch was just two yards behind with 54 in 17 carries while the best any Oklahoma player could muster was 36 yards in 10 tries by first string halfback Clendon Thomas.


Williams completed 8 of 19 for 70 yards. In Oklahoma’s last minute desperation drive, third string quarterback Bennett Watts made 2 of 3 for 31. Notre Dame was the last team to beat Oklahoma, at the start of the 1953 season on the same field that it smothered the Sooners yesterday. Then coach Frank Leahy's Irish beat Oklahoma 28-21. The next game, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh tied 7-7. Then, the Sooners set sail through the 47 games until Terry Brennan’s Irish stopped the string yesterday.


Wilkinson, the nation's winningest, active coach, had amassed 101 victories in his 10 years at Oklahoma. There were 3 ties. Yesterday was his 8th loss.


Oklahoma started out as if it would stretch its string to 48 at the expense of the Irish. It marched the first time it got its hands on the ball from the Sooner 42 down to the Irish 13 but the big Notre Dame line stiffened on the 13.


Oklahoma continued to play in Notre Dame territory the rest of the first quarter and had another chance when a Notre Dame fumble with 9 minutes gone was recovered by right guard Dick Corbitt on the Notre Dame 34. However, the Sooners were stopped cold and finally Baker had to punt on fourth down.


In the second quarter another Sooner drive got down to the 23 but on the first play second quarter, starting back Carl Dodd fumbled. The ball was punched around in the Sooner backfield and Pietronsante finally smothered it on the Notre Dame 48.


Then Williams started his passing attack to three different receivers and piloted the Irish down to the 3 with first and goal. Pietrosante picked up a yard in each of two plunges, Frank Reynolds went to the one foot line and then Jim Just was held for no gain.


Then Notre Dame came back with its bruising ground game and moved to the 16. With fourth down, Stickles came in for his fake kick but instead hit Just on the six for a first down. It was then on the second play that Reynolds pass was intercepted by Baker in a desperation lunge in the end zone.


They Were Just Better: Wilkinson


Lynch scores winning touchdown around end.

NORMAN, Okla. (UP)- Some may have called Notre Dame's upset 7-0 decision over Oklahoma yesterday "The luck of the Irish", but victorious coach Terry Brennan said simply "we just played 60 minutes of good football against a great team."


Brennan and the entire Notre Dame squad emphasized that the triumph was the result of a great team effort combined with superb scouting.


Coach Bud Wilkinson in his usual sober tone said it was a tough job to accept defeat in the face of his team's brilliant 47-game winning streak. "They were just better than we were yesterday," he said. "They deserved to win."


Brennan said he could not single out any individual as the key player but said quarterback Bob Williams; guards James Schaaf and Allen Ecuyer and tackle Don Lawerence were the stalwarts "if anyone has to be mentioned personally." "It feels great to beat a grand team and for the first time we played 60 minutes of football and we came down here to win," Brennan said in a dressing room jammed with with wishers. "Oklahoma is a great team and must be considered as good as any we played. We just happened to have one of our best days and I don't believe anyone could have beaten us."


Brennan said that every play in Notre Dame's touchdown drive was engineered by Williams. Dick Lynch, who scored the the touchdown was probably the happiest fellow among the Irish. "That is the shortest but best touchdown I've scored this season. Monty Stickles blocked out the end and Pietrosante took care of the outside halfback. I believe we could have gone 95 yards on the play if we had been at the other end of the field."


Brennan, asked if he would have called a field goal on the fourth down play instead of a run, replied, "No, we decided at the half to go all the way. We were afraid Oklahoma could go all the way anytime they had the ball and felt that it would take a touchdown to win."


Brennan celebrates with Irish.


Williams explained the winning play thusly. "They were in tight, real tight, just waiting for me to give the ball to Pietrosante. Well, I just faked it to him and tossed out to Lynch and it worked like a charm."


Wilkinson said Oklahoma really never had a chance to score. ''They had our pass receivers covered very well," he added. "We had time to throw the ball but couldn't get anybody open."


Asked why he put his third and fourth stringers into the game near the finish, Wilkinson said, "I just thought they might do better."


How Oklahoma Won Its 47 Games In Row

From the University of Oklahoma Athletic Department


Jimmy Harris









September 12, 1955

1953 Season

Tommy McDonald









November 18, 1957

Oct. 10   Oklahoma 19, Texas 14

Oct. 17   Oklahoma 45, Kansas 0

Oct. 24   Oklahoma 27, Colorado 20

Oct. 31   Oklahoma 34, Kansas State 0

Nov. 7   Oklahoma 14, Missouri 0

Nov. 14   Oklahoma 47, Iowa State 0

Nov. 21   Oklahoma 30, Nebraska 7

Nov. 28   Oklahoma 42, Oklahoma State 7

Jan. 1   Oklahoma 7, Maryland 0 (Orange Bowl)


1954 Season

Sept. 18   Oklahoma 27, California 13

Sept. 25   Oklahoma 21, TCU 16

Oct. 9   Oklahoma 14, Texas 7

Oct. 16   Oklahoma 65, Kansas 0

Oct. 23   Oklahoma 21, Kansas State 0

Oct. 30   Oklahoma 13, Colorado 6

Nov. 6   Oklahoma 40, Iowa State 0

Nov. 13   Oklahoma 34, Missouri 13

Nov. 20   Oklahoma 55, Nebraska 7

Nov. 27   Oklahoma 14, Oklahoma State 0


1955 Season

Sept. 24   Oklahoma 13, North Carolina 6

Oct. 1   Oklahoma 26, Pittsburgh 14

Oct. 8   Oklahoma 20, Texas 0

Oct. 15   Oklahoma 44, Kansas 6

Oct. 22   Oklahoma 56, Colorado 21

Oct. 29   Oklahoma 40, Kansas State 7

Nov. 5   Oklahoma 20, Missouri 0

Nov. 12   Oklahoma 52, Iowa State 0

Nov. 19   Oklahoma 41, Nebraska 0

Nov. 26   Oklahoma 53, Oklahoma State 0

Jan. 2  Oklahoma 20, Maryland 6,   (Orange Bowl)


1956 Season

Sept. 29   Oklahoma 36, North Carolina 0

Oct. 6   Oklahoma 66, Kansas State 0

Oct. 13   Oklahoma 45, Texas 0

Oct. 20   Oklahoma 34, Kansas 12

Oct. 27   Oklahoma 40, Notre Dame 0

Nov. 3   Oklahoma 27, Colorado 19

Nov. 10   Oklahoma 44, Iowa State 0

Nov. 17   Oklahoma 67, Missouri 14

Nov. 24   Oklahoma 54, Nebraska 6

Dec. 1 Oklahoma 53, Oklahoma State 0


1957 Season

Sept. 21 Oklahoma 26, Pittsburgh 0

Oct. 5 Oklahoma 40, Iowa State 14

Oct. 12 Oklahoma 21, Texas 7

Oct. 19 Oklahoma 47, Kansas 0

Oct. 26 Oklahoma 14, Colorado 13

Nov. 2 Oklahoma 13, Kansas State 0

Nov. 9 Oklahoma 39, Missouri 14


How the Streak Began

The last Sooner loss: September 26, 1953


Notre Dame, Heat Wilt Green Sooners, 28-21

Norman Oklahoma

By Hugh Fullerton, Jr.



NORMAN, Okla., Sept. 26- Notre Dame, with a flaming comeback spirit to match the searing Oklahoma sun, rallied from early adversities today and whipped Oklahoma's Sooners 28-21.


Ralph Guglielmi, an underrated quarterback, took charge of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and led them to victory in the torrid opening game of the season. Guglielmi scored one touchdown and passed to Joe Heap for two others.


But Capt. Don Penza shared the plaudits of a sellout crowd of 59,500 heat wilted fans. He blocked one Oklahoma kick and recovered the ball to set up a touchdown and recovered a fumble to pave the way for another.


The game was played in intense heat that reached 94 degrees in the shade and must have been well over 100 on the field. But the teams played with a fury that kept the overflow crowd on edge from start to finish.


In trouble from the first kickoff, Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish justified their nickname by matching Oklahoma touchdowns in each of the first two periods, then ramming over two more in the third quarter. Oklahoma's third score, on a 60-yard run by Merrill Green, came too late.


For a while it looked as if the green, untried Sooners might accomplish an upset of the team that was ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press poll. But in the end, it was Oklahoma that wilted under the heat and the pressure of Notre Dame's furious play.


OU's Carl Allison (right) goes 62 yards with Leake pass.

Neil (The Bull) Worden, who justified his nickname by rushing for 78 yards in 12 carries, made the fourth Irish score. For Oklahoma, it was Larry Grigg and Jack Ging who tallied the first two scores and Buddy Leake who managed the maneuvering in good style.


The game was almost a rematch of the 27-21 hair-raiser that Notre Dame won last year in the first meeting between these teams. But, it lacked the story-book finish. This time the Irish settled it earlier and there was no nationwide television to spread the excitement of the hometown crowd. And, coming at the start of the season, it was filled with exactly the kind of first-game fumbles and miscues that both coaches feared.


The big difference was that Notre Dame was able to overcome its difficulties and smooth out its attack after a miserable start. Oklahoma, a team that is being rebuilt after the loss of last year's star ground gainers, showed flashes of fine play. But it wasn't consistently good enough to overcome the Notre Dame defense.


The defenses of both teams were outstanding. Nobody could gain consistently through the line and, for awhile midway in the game, Notre Dame couldn't complete a pass against the Sooners' umbrella defense.


The big break came after the Irish had been pinned in their own territory for the first five minutes of the third quarter. All-American Johnny Lattner, an inconsistent player Saturday after missing a lot of practice because of a minor injury, finally got them out with a punt that died on the Oklahoma 20.


Lattner carries for Notre Dame.

Leake tried a pass from there and Guglielmi intercepted it on the 40 and promptly threw a pass of his own on the next play. It went to Heap for 36 yards and a touchdown and the Irish were in front for the first time. About five minutes later, Worden, who gained about two-thirds of Notre Dame's rushing yardage, went over from the nine for the last Irish score.


That didn't end the Oklahoma threat, but it squelched most of the Sooners’ hopes. Their attack began to stutter and the fumbles became more frequent. It was late in the final period when Green, a sub halfback who had seen little action, grabbed one of Lattner's punts on his own 40 and raced through the tiring teams to give the home fans a final thrill.


Lattner had a bad day in some respects, starting when he fumbled the opening kickoff but his punts, averaging 38.6 yards, got Notre Dame out of several holes and his tackling on defense was sure, something which couldn't always be said of his teammates.


The first kickoff went right at Notre Dome's big star of 1952 and Lattner let it skitter through his legs and finally fell on it as it rolled out of bounds on the four. The Irish couldn't get out of that hole and the miscue eventually led to the first Oklahoma touchdown.


Worden fumbled after taking the ball to the 23 and Dick Bowman, Oklahoma tackle, fell on it. Oklahoma scored eight plays from there, Grigg going over the left side for the last couple of inches after two "keep" plays by Leake had been turned away.