Football Short Story
Notre Dame Shatters Oklahoma's
47-Game Winning Streak
Fred Eisenhammer and Eric Sondheimer, College Football's Most Memorable Games (1992)
November 16, 1957
It was vindication for Notre Dame Coach Terry Brennan.
With their fourth-year coach under fire, the Fighting Irish turned in a rousing effort to shatter heavily favored Oklahoma's 47-game winning streak - college football's all-time record - with a stunning 7-0 victory before 63,170 fans in Norman, Oklahoma.
HB Dick Lynch's 3y touchdown run on fourth down late in the fourth quarter broke a scoreless tie and allowed Notre Dame to break a two-game losing streak.
For Brennan, it was a sweet victory. Brennan's Fighting Irish had lost to Oklahoma 40-0 in South Bend the previous year - a season in which they registered their first losing record in 24 years with a 2-8 mark. Furthermore, the Fighting Irish had just dropped back-to-back games to Navy and Michigan State in one-sided fashion before heading to Norman and almost certain defeat against the nation's second-ranked Sooners, who had won their first seven games of the season.
But Notre Dame (5-2) pulled out of its tailspin behind a rock-ribbed defense that stopped the two-time defending national champion Sooners' run-oriented offense cold and an offense that mustered an 80y touchdown drive in the closing minutes.
L-R: Carl Dodd runs for OU; ND QB Bob Williams passes; Bud Wilkinson dejected on the sideline.
Oklahoma, which had been averaging 300y a game, was held to 98y on the ground and 47 in the air. Clendon Thomas was Oklahoma's leading ballcarrier with 36y in 10 tries.
"Oklahoma was a fine football team," Brennan said. "And Bud Wilkinson was a fine football coach. But he was predictable and we felt if we could stop their four or five basic plays, we had a chance to win. And we did."
One of Oklahoma's biggest weapons was the punting by Thomas and David Baker, who kept Notre Dame bottled up near its end zone in the third quarter. But the Sooners could not capitalize.
"I was willing to settle for a scoreless tie in the third quarter," said Wilkinson afterward. "I felt at the start of the second half we had a good chance. But after we couldn't get going, even with our tremendous punting to their goal, I was ready to settle for a scoreless tie."
Oklahoma's best scoring threat came in the first quarter when the Sooners drove to Notre Dame's 13 before they were held on downs. "They were just better than we were today," Wilkinson said. "They deserved to win."
Notre Dame not only stopped Oklahoma's winning streak, but the Irish broke the Sooners' national record of scoring in 123 consecutive games. Interestingly, Notre Dame was the last team to defeat Oklahoma, defeating the Sooners 28-21 at the start of the 1953 season. Oklahoma was tied, 7-7, by Pittsburgh in its next game before beginning its amazing streak.
Brennan, a former three-year starting running back at Notre Dame, often called the streak-stopping victory over Oklahoma "the greatest thrill of my athletic career." Brennan coached the Fighting Irish for five seasons, compiling a 32-18 record. Pietrosante distinguished himself as a stellar running back for the Detroit Lions.
L-R: Nick Pietrosante; Coach Brennan carried off.