Photo courtesy of NCAA
Two traditional powers, Ohio State and Oklahoma have met just four times. All four came with both teams in the top 15 and two came with both teams in the top five.
The first and closest was a top-5 matchup that took place on this day 45 years ago. After letting a 20-point slip away in Columbus, Uwe von Schamann’s 41-yard field goal with seconds left lifted the Sooners to a thrilling 29-28 win.
Setting the Stage
Both teams were 2-0 as they arrived at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 24, 1977. Ranked No. 1 to start the season, Oklahoma was ranked third as it arrived. The Sooners had bounced back from a hard-fought win over Vanderbilt to blow out Utah.
Ohio State was ranked No. 4 as it prepared for its toughest test yet. To open the season, the Buckeyes defeated Miami and Minnesota by a combined 48-7 score.
A Game of Momentum Swings
Neither team managed 300 yards of offense, but Oklahoma had the statistical edge. The Sooners finished with 294 yards of offense to 202 for Ohio State. A big difference was that Oklahoma turned the ball over six times to just two for the Buckeyes.
About two minutes into the second quarter, the contest had the makings of a rout. After touchdown runs from Elvis Peacock and Billy Sims and two von Schamann field goals, the Sooners led 20-0.
Injuries to Sims and quarterback Thomas Lott stalled the Oklahoma offense. With just under five minutes to play in the third quarter, what had been a 20-point deficit was now an 8-point Ohio State lead.
Ron Springs, Ron Gerald and Joel Payton all rushed for touchdowns before Greg Castignola found Jimmy Moore for a 16-yard touchdown. The Buckeyes had scored 28 straight points and led 28-20 after three quarters.
After struggling offensively for nearly three full quarters, Peacock’s second touchdown run cut the lead to two with 1:29 to play. Down 28-26, Peacock got the call on the 2-point conversion try but the Ohio State defense was there to stuff him.
A later kick would be the one that was ultimately remembered, but perhaps von Schamann’s biggest kick was the ensuing onside kick. The ball hit Ohio State’s Michael Straheen’s hands before coming to the ground. As officials tried to pull players off the pile, an important signal was given: Oklahoma football.
Box score and statistics:
Ohio State athletics
With the ball at midfield, Dean Blevins needed just two plays — one pass and one run — to move Oklahoma into field goal range. After three straight runs, head coach Barry Switzer called timeout and von Schamann came onto the field.
His kick left no doubt.
With just three seconds left on the clock, von Schamann had split the uprights from 41 yards away. It was the difference as Oklahoma prevailed, 29-28.
With the win, Oklahoma climbed back to No. 1, but it would lose two weeks later to Texas in another top-5 matchup. The Sooners won their final five games and ascended to No. 2, but a blowout loss to Arkansas in the Orange Bowl ended any national championship hopes.
Ohio State won each of its next seven games by at least 20 points. A 14-6 loss to Michigan in the regular season finale ultimately decided the Big Ten. The Buckeyes closed the year with a 35-6 loss to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Although neither team went on to win a national championship, von Schamann’s make has come to be affectionately known as “The Kick” in Norman. It came on this day 45 years ago.
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.