OSU football: 1962 Army game a big win
Reader Braniff Surtees studied our list of the four biggest wins in Oklahoma State football history, then offered another for consideration: the Cowboys’ 12-7 upset of Army on Nov. 10, 1962.
“Maybe I’m too old, but … I’ll vote that game into the mix,” Surtees wrote. “I was covering the team’s arrival at Stillwater airport that night for the OSU college radio stations. Pardon the expression, but it was ‘Bedlam.’”
OK, so let’s check out that game. First, the Cowboys. Cliff Speegle was in the last of his eight seasons as OSU’s coach. The Cowboys were 2-4, having beaten only Tulsa 17-7 and Colorado 36-16. OSU had lost at Arkansas (34-7) and Missouri (23-6) and at home to Kansas (36-17) and Iowa State (34-7). Speegle’s record for 71/2 seasons was 34-40-3. There was no reason for optimism.
Army by 1962 was not quite the national power it had been in the 1940s. Red Blaik’s final year as the Cadet coach, 1958, produced an 8-0-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in the final AP poll. But the next three Army teams finished 4-4-1, 6-3-1 and 6-4.
So a new coach was brought in, and he was a dandy. Paul Dietzel had been a big winner at LSU — yes, there was a time in America when Army could lure away the LSU coach — and his first season got off to good start. The Black Knights were 6-1, losing only 17-7 at Michigan.
When the Cadets hosted OSU at West Point’s Michie Stadium, Army was not ranked, but that’s because the AP poll consisted of just 10 teams. The Cadets clearly were a top-15 team.
And the Cowboys pulled the upset. Army halfback Ken Waldrop staggered the Cowboys with a 40-yard touchdown run on the first possession. But OSU rallied. Mike Miller threw a 24-yard TD pass to wingback Mutual Bryant on the first play of the second quarter. Then Tommy Jackson’s interception set up Wardell Hollis’ touchdown before halftime.
And Surtees wasn’t kidding. Stillwater went wild. According to The Oklahoman accounts, about 4,000 cheering fans gathered at the airport.
Students had been listening to the game on the radio, then jumped into their cars and paraded down streets, honking horns.
One student said “the final score was chimed out on the campus bells … there was a kind of stunned silence. Sort of like a bomb when the fuse is lit. Then it went off with blaring horns and bells that repeated the score.”
The upset staggered Army. The Knights lost to Pitt 7-6 and Navy 34-14 and finished 6-4.
Dietzel coached just three more years, going 7-3, 4-6 and 4-5-1. The golden age of Army football was over. Truth is, it was over before the Cowboys rode into West Point. But that loss didn’t help.
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