Clash of Titans
Games featuring a future Hall of Fame coach on each sideline.
October 30, 1908: Arkansas @ Oklahoma
Hugo Bezdek vs Bennie Owen
In 1905 Norman Territorial School paid 30-year-old Bennie Owen $900 to coach football for three months. Owen had played quarterback under future Mich­igan coach Fielding Yost for the 1898 season at the Univer­sity of Kansas. Three years later, Owen served as Yost's assistant at Michigan for a year before becoming the foot­ball coach at tiny Bethany College in Kansas.
Hiring Owen proved to be the bargain of the century for the 16-year-old Territorial school, which changed its name to the University of Oklahoma in 1908.
Owen taught clean play to his charges. No profanity, fouling, kneeing, or dirty play. He never shouted, cussed, nor abused a player.
In Owen's first season, the "Boomers" went 7-2, inclu­ding the school's first victory over Texas. The Boomers finished 5-2-2 in 1906 and 4-4 in 1907. But the pieces were in place for the school's finest season in 1908 when the team became the Sooners.

Bennie Owen

Hugo Bezdek
The University of Arkansas began football in 1894. No coach stayed more than three seasons. In 1908, Arkansas hired Hugo Bezdek as its coach. He was an all-Western fullback at the University of Chicago for the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg. Bezdek became head coach at Oregon in 1906 be­fore going back to Chicago for a year as Stagg's assistant.
The 1909 Arkansas yearbook characterized their new coach this way: "Coach Bezdek, with his characteristic ener­gy, made haste to get the team in practice. He emphasized head work, team work, and hard work, with the result that the raw and inexperienced men were soon playing a good game and the old players were working together better than ever before ..."
Oklahoma entered the game with Arkansas with a 4-1 record, the loss coming at Kansas 11-0. The Cardinals (as they were called prior to 1910) had won three of four games, including a 33-0 victory over Ole Miss.
Owen's favorite play was the crossbuck. The quarterback (or tailback in the single wing) fakes to a back going in one direction but hands the ball to another back heading to the other side of the line. The temporary misdirection allows blockers to get a good angle on defenders.
Owen's team was in "crippled condition and it is probable that several of the men will enter the game not in the pink of condition."
Arkansas won three of its first four games, including a 33-0 trounching of Ole Miss. The loss came at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis 24-0 to St. Louis University, one of the forward passing pioneers in college football.
Word from Fayetteville was that "the practice this week has been exceptionally long and late, consisting mostly of signal and trick-play practice ..." Like the Sooners, the Cardinals were plagued by injuries. Two of Arkansas' best players, Captain Willis Nelson and QB Steve Creekmore, would stay on the sideline during the game. They would be sorely felt.

Arkansas 1908 Football Team (University of Arkansas Razorback Yearbook Class of 1909)
Cardinals Strike Early
Arkansas started strong, taking the opening kickoff and driving for a touchdown, which was scored by star RHB Clinton Milford who took a forward pass from drop kick formation at the 20. The try for point failed. 5-0 Arkansas
Oklahoma took the kickoff and marched to the tying touchdown. Fred Capshaw made several long runs to set up a pass from the Arkansas 30 that Porter English caught and carried to paydirt. Charles Armstrong failed to add the point to keep the score tied at five.
Later in the half, Capshaw tore off a 40y run only to have a penalty negate it. No problem. He took the ball on the next play and gained another 40 before being tackled by Claude Sparks on the two. But Oklahoma fumbled the ball, and Arkansas recov­ered. The half ended with the score tied 5-5.
Sooners Pour It On in Second Half
The second half was all Sooners. They took the kickoff and drove into Arkansas territory thanks to long runs by C. W. Wantland and Capshaw. When the march bogged down at the 20, Armstrong kicked a field goal to make it 9-5 Oklahoma.
The Sooner scoring parade continued with Capshaw plunging over the goal to culminate a drive highlighted by Claud Pickard's 15y run. 15-5 Oklahoma
Armstrong scored the next touchdown "after the Sooners had worked their way down the field." 21-5 Oklahoma
The final touchdown came on one of Owen's trick plays while the ball was being carried in from out of bounds. As the Sooners walked in from the sideline, E Vernon Walling suddenly tossed the ball to James Nairn, and he quickly threw a forward pass to Wantland who ran 50y to cap the scoring.
Roy Campbell, the big Sooner center, was so excited by the play and the victory that he did handsprings all the way from Boyd Field to the new gymnasium where the Sooners dressed.
Final Score: Oklahoma 27 Arkansas 5
Oklahoma Kickoff: An Informal History of the First Twenty-five Years of Football at the University of Oklahoma, and of the Amusing Hardships That Attended Its Pioneering, Harold Keith (1948)
Great College Football Coaches of the Twenties and Thirties
, Tim Cohane (1973)
The Oklahoma Football Encyclopedia, Ray Dozier (2006)
I Love Oklahoma/I Hate Texas: Personal Stories about the World's Greatest Team, Fans, and Traditions
, Jake Trotter (2012)