Bill Saxon and his family drove home in the rain on Nov. 17, 1957, on the lonely roads from Norman to Abilene, Texas, in those pre-turnpike days.
The 1951 OU graduate later would become a successful oil man. But in 1957, Saxon sold drilling bits in the Texas oil fields. He lived in one of those tract housing neighborhoods built for returning GIs.
That evening, an exhausted Saxon pulled up to his house, and there on the door of his one-car garage, in dripping red paint, proclaimed the news from the day before.
Irish 7, OU 0.
Fifty-five years later, Saxon still doesn't know who painted the score on his garage. But he knows the team that inspired such vandalism.
Notre Dame ended OU's 47-game winning streak. And generations of Sooner fans, some of whom were born after Nov. 16, 1957, haven't forgiven the Fighting Irish.
Said Saxon, “We never liked 'em after that.”
Jack Laffoon says he never voted for Ronald Reagan, not because of politics, but because Reagan portrayed Notre Dame star George Gipp in “Knute Rockne, All American.”
“I still remember my mother crying on that dark fall afternoon in 1957,” said Laffoon, then a Tulsa grade schooler and now a retired Air Force man living in Corinth, Texas. “A bunch of papist hooligans had stolen the game from the mighty Sooners.”
Most college football powers invoke negative passion from other fan bases. Notre Dame invokes more than most.
Long before The Longhorn Network was anything but a gleam in DeLoss Dodds' eye, the Fighting Irish had their own NBC contract, first signed when the Irish broke ranks with the College Football Association.
The much-maligned Bowl Championship Series makes special provisions for only one school, Notre Dame.
Notre Dame's storied history has fostered decades of hype around a program that once deserved it but no longer does.
So fans from Alabama and Ohio State and Texas muster plenty of resentment concerning the Irish.
But OU fans have a particular bone to pick with Notre Dame.
The Irish rained on Camelot. They beat the Sooners 7-0 in 1957 at Owen Field to end an epic winning streak. And in the five OU-Notre Dame games since, the Sooners have not exacted revenge, having lost in 1961, 1962, 1966, 1968 and 1999.
Now the Sooners get another shot. They host Notre Dame on Saturday night, the Irish's first visit to Norman in 46 years.
OU student Trevor Rogers, who was born 35 years after Notre Dame's historic upset, credits his hatred of the Irish to his grandfather, who was a Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan, when the streak ended.
“He has recounted the story hundreds of times to me,” Rogers said. “I can recite his account of what happened, where he watched, who he watched with, what he ate and, I can do so with the same expressions and mannerisms he displays when telling the story.
“That story has been ingrained into my DNA. I was raised to hate them, and now I'm old enough to see the truth. Truth is, Notre Dame doesn't deserve the recognition this day in football.”
It's not like the Sooners dominated Notre Dame before 1957. OU thrashed the Irish 40-0 in 1956, but the Sooners had lost to Notre Dame in 1952 and 1953.
In fact, between Oct. 13, 1951, and Oct. 11, 1958, OU lost three games. All to Notre Dame.
Call it a hate-hate relationship Sooner fans have with the Golden Domers.
“Hate is a little too strong, but let's go with I am intensely interested in the Sooners cleaning their clock,” said Richard Luttrell of Richardson, Texas. “I'm a little too young to remember Nov. 16, 1957, but that date was tattooed in my brain by my parents just like Dec. 7, 1941 — another day of infamy.”
Luttrell might reject the concept of hate, but Oklahoma City School Board member Phil Horning does not.
“That about captures it,” said Horning. “I was raised in Norman, and I saw both those losses that book ended our 47-game streak. I simply never forgave them.”
Horning plans to be in Norman on Saturday.
“I'll be there,” said Horning, the father of Norman Transcript sports editor Clay Horning. “I want us to crush ‘em.”
Phil Horning echoed the memories of OU fans now 55 years strong, how everyone in Memorial Stadium sat silent, seemingly unable to leave their seats or believe that they had just seen the Sooners lose that 1957 game.
“Nobody could believe it,” Horning said. “It was terrible. Just dead silence. I was about 16 years old, I was 6-feet tall, and I went home crying like a baby.”
Michael Irwin is a senior cash manager for ExxonMobil Corporation in Dallas. He grew up an OU fan in upstate New York.
Irwin still can recite his access to the Sooners in the pre-Internet days of the 1970s.
One or two televised games per season. Fifteen to 30 seconds of highlights each Saturday during the Prudential College Scoreboard Show with Dave Diles. Three lines of type and a box score in the Sunday paper.
“Do you remember what the Notre Dame fans had?” Irwin asked. “A one-hour … replay hosted by Lindsey Nelson every Sunday morning! Aaaarrrrrrrgh!!!!”
Irwin said he's embarrassed that the jealousy, “born of youth,” continues to color his perception even though he now has virtually unlimited access to Sooner football.
“I still hope the Irish lose every week,” he said.
The truth is, the Irish inspire passion all across America. Positive and negative. And that certain game in 1957 ignites the feelings of Sooner fans even more so.
Laffoon, who remembers the tears of his mother, waxes eloquently about his venom toward the Irish.
“The tears were not for the loss of a game alone,” Laffoon said. “The tears were also for the perceived loss of respect our homeplace had suffered.
“The streak brought respect to a state devastated by the Dust Bowl and besmirched by Steinbeck's portrayal of Okies … for 47 games, we were the kings of the world.
“That was gone, wiped out, never to return and never to be repeated. I had no choice but to instantly despise them and all of their ilk.”