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Notre Dame ends Oklahoma record winning streak

On November 16, 1957, Notre Dame beats Oklahoma 7-0, ending the Sooners’ 47-game, 1,512-day college football winning streak. The game also marked the first time in more than 120 games that Oklahoma didn’t score a single point. Sooners fans were stunned. Some cried; some sat in the stadium for more than an hour after the game was over. But, as Sooners coach Bud Wilkinson said in the locker room after the game, “There wasn’t anything mysterious about it. We just got beat.”

At the beginning of the 1953 season, the Fighting Irish had beaten Oklahoma 28-21. The next week, the Sooners had tied Pitt 7-7. The week after that, they’d beaten Texas 19-14, and they hadn’t lost since. For their part, the Irish were coming off of a humiliating 1956 season–their worst ever–in which they’d lost to the Sooners 40-0. That smarted, and the Notre Dame team was out for revenge. Even though they were playing better in 1957 (they arrived in Norman with a 4-2 record), no one really expected them to win. Oklahoma was the 18-point favorite, and momentum was certainly in the Sooners’ favor–but, as their halfback pointed out years later, “you go against a team as an 18-point favorite, it’s pretty hard to get excited–even if it’s Notre Dame. Now, was Notre Dame excited? Hell yeah. They’re playing the No. 1 team that had a 47-game winning streak. They played a little better against us than I think they did most people. They were pretty damn tough.”

At the beginning of the game, it looked like it was going to be another Oklahoma rout: Wilkinson’s team had possession three times near the end zone but couldn’t manage to score. Then, early in the next quarter, Notre Dame fullback Nick Pietrosante sacked the Sooners’ quarterback, grabbed the fumble and ran the ball 19 yards. After that, Wilkinson’s team just seemed to fold.

The Irish won the game on their first possession of the fourth quarter: They chugged forward steadily, covering 80 yards in 20 plays, until Dick Lynch caught a toss and ran the touchdown in standing up. Monty Stickes scored the extra point. “Even the nuns were astounded,” the newspaper wrote.

Oklahoma still holds the NCAA record for the most consecutive wins by a major college football team. (Division III Mt. Union in Ohio has broken the Sooners’ record twice.) In fact, since World War I only four Division I teams have won more than 30 games in a row: Toledo won 35 from 1969-1971, the University of Miami won 34 from 2000-2002, and Wilkinson’s Sooners won 31 from 1948-50.

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