Share “Gloom descends upon Norman”

By Berry Tramel Modified: November 12, 2007 at 8:23 am •  Published: November 12, 2007
NORMAN — Bob Rice sat in his front yard at 514 S. Flood, west of the OU campus, and watched the cars inch along. No one was saying a word.

On Nov. 16, 1957, the 50th Statehood Day and 50 years ago Friday, college football's most epic achievement ended. Notre Dame halfback Dick Lynch sped around right end with 3:50 left in the game, the Irish won 7-0 and snapped Oklahoma's 47-game winning streak, sending a campus, a town and a state into stunned gloom.

Dub Borders was 13 in November 1957. His family was poor but had a television. "The only mention of Oklahoma was watching the ‘Today Show' every Monday morning, when they would reveal the football rankings,” Borders said. "It was always OU No. 1.”

On Nov. 16, Borders worked in his family's peanut field. Liked to have killed him that he couldn't even listen on the radio. He came in late that afternoon, and an uncle delivered the news.

For the first time in more than four years, the Sooners had lost a football game.

"I couldn't believe it,” said Borders, who now lives in Ada. "I thought, how terrible to be our birthday, and the 47-game streak is snapped.

"I was just devastated. Heartbroken. Just unreal. After 47 games, they let a team that really was no good beat 'em.”

Actually, the Irish weren't bad. They were 2-8 in 1956, when the Sooners delivered a 40-0 licking at South Bend, but entered the 1957 game 4-2. And the longer the game went, the more Notre Dame's confidence grew.

"Like a lot of fans, I didn't think they could lose it,” said Fritz Anderson, then a 29-year-old OU die-hard sitting in the north end zone seats who now is curator of the Shawnee High School museum.

But when Notre Dame intercepted Dale Sherrod's last-minute pass in the end zone, disbelief became reality.

Notre Dame players picked up beleaguered coach Terry Brennan and carried him off the field. OU public-address announcer Jack Ogle kept his poise and proclaimed, "Come back next Saturday folks; that's when the new string starts.”

And the fans sat stunned.

"Literally, there were people crying in the stands,” said Gary King, then a 12-year-old who would go on to play football at Iowa State, teach history at Rose State College and write a memoir about growing up a Sooner fan in the 1950s.

But through the tears and the flabbergastion, the OU fans responded with a fitting farewell to the streak.

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