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Examining the complete history of the OU-Notre Dame series

OU writer Ryan Aber takes an in-depth look at the entire history of the series between the Sooners and Fighting Irish.
by Ryan Aber Modified: September 23, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: September 23, 2013

Quotable: “When you don't score with a first down within the five there's something very wrong with your procedure. … We didn't execute well at all on the goal line. But at the same time you've got to give the opposition credit for executing very well. But that doesn't mitigate anything or soothe how you feel. I think you ought to be able to score. When you don't, you have failed to execute within the percentages that normally go with you in that situation.” — Bud Wilkinson, Sooners coach.

Sept. 30, 1961

Notre Dame 19, Oklahoma 6

Notre Dame Stadium

The game: Mike Lind scored a pair of touchdowns, the last midway through the fourth quarter, to help Notre Dame start the season with a win. The Sooners had the chance to take the lead early, but Bill Van Burkleo's potential touchdown pass to Mike McClellan sailed high and the Irish blocked the subsequent field goal try. The Sooners wound up dropping five consecutive games to start the season.

Star: Angelo Dabiero, Notre Dame. Dabiero started the scoring with a 51-yard touchdown run, set up two more scores with long runs and finished with 176 yards on just 11 carries. Dabiero topped Oklahoma's rushing total by more than 50 yards.

Quotable: “We have to do our share. We fell to pieces. I sure hope we can come back. We all have to get together.” — Leon Cross, Sooners guard, on the play of the second team.

Nov. 16, 1957

Notre Dame 7, Oklahoma 0

Owen Field

The game: The most celebrated game in the series. Notre Dame snapped Oklahoma's 47-game winning streak with a fourth-quarter three-yard touchdown run by Dick Lynch. The Sooners defense had a pair of earlier goal-line stands in the game. Oklahoma had a late chance to tie it, but Bennett Watts' pass was intercepted by John Pellow, sealing the Irish win. The Sooners managed just 145 yards of offense.

Star: Nick Pietrosante, Notre Dame. The fullback ran for more than 50 yards, and Notre Dame totaled 169 yards on the ground.

Quotable: “I don't think any of us believed it. You looked up in the stands and people were waiting for the next quarter. I don't think anybody believed it except the Catholics that were in the stadium.” — Chuck Bowman, Sooners guard.

Oct. 27, 1956

Oklahoma 40, Notre Dame 0

Notre Dame Stadium

The game: Oklahoma picked up its only win in the series in resounding fashion, dominating to the finish en route to a second consecutive national title. The Sooners needed just 235 yards of total offense — 147 on the ground — as the defense dominated and kept OU in good field position.

Stars: Tommy McDonald and Clendon Thomas. Each intercepted passes from eventual Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung and returned them for touchdowns. McDonald's 55-yard interception return put the Sooners up 26-0 at halftime. The pair also combined for 121 rushing yards.

Quotable: “It sounds great to hear half of Oklahoma cheering at Notre Dame today.” — Edith Royal, wife of former Sooners star Darrell Royal, in a telegram to the team after the win. Darrell Royal was coaching Washington at the time.

Sept. 26, 1953

Notre Dame 28, Oklahoma 21

Owen Field

The game: Merrill Green's second interception of the game didn't prove to be enough as Oklahoma nearly came back from a 28-14 deficit in the second half. Green had returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown earlier in the game and picked off another late in the fourth quarter with the Sooners trailing by seven. But Notre Dame's Johnny Lattner intercepted Buddy Leake's pass to end the comeback try. Oklahoma led 14-7 early before Frank Varrichione blocked Max Boydston's punt. The Irish recovered at the Sooners 9 and scored shortly thereafter to tie the game at 14 just before half.

The Sooners tied Pittsburgh, 7-7, the next week before starting a 47-game winning streak that stretched to 1957, when OU fell to Notre Dame.

Star: Ralph Guglielmi, Notre Dame. The quarterback rushed for just three yards on 12 carries but threw for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Joe Heap and rushed for another score in helping the Irish win.

Quotable: “We played good ball and have nothing to be ashamed about. Notre Dame is just a big, rough, tough team.” — Bud Wilkinson, Sooners coach.

Nov. 8, 1952

Notre Dame 27, Oklahoma 21

Notre Dame Stadium

The game: Notre Dame trailed three times after Billy Vessels gave the Sooners the lead, but the Irish came back each time. After tying it for the third time early in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame's Al Kohanovich recovered Larry Grigg's fumble on the kick return, giving the Irish the ball at the OU 24. A few plays later, Notre Dame quarterback Tom Carey gave the Irish their first lead. The Sooners had a final chance to come out with the win, but an incompletion as time ran out ended the game.

Star: Billy Vessels, Oklahoma. The Sooners came out on the losing end, but Vessels, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy, was dominant. Vessels scored all three OU touchdowns and ran for 195 yards on 17 carries. “That Vessels is one of the finest running backs I've ever seen. And I saw a lot of Vessels today,” Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy said.

Quotable: “We just threw the ball away too much.” — Eddie Crowder, Sooners quarterback.

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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