When Ohio State and Oklahoma face off Saturday night at Buckeye Stadium in Columbus it will only be the fourth time these two programs met.
In fact, it will only be the second time that these two teams in the Horseshoe down by the “banks of the Olentangy River,” as Keith Jackson would put it.
The first time these two teams met, it occurred 40 years ago this month during a nationally televised game on ABC announced by Jackson and the recently departed Ara Parseghian.
Both men and much of the nation were treated to a battle between the third and fourth-ranked teams in the country. What everyone saw was a back-and-forth battle between two of the best. It was Hayes versus Switzer! Power football versus the Wishbone.
The game featured a future Heisman winner in tailback Billy Sims, part of a multi-pronged running game that also included future Super Bowl champion, Kenny King.
It’s a great watch if you want to spend a couple hours looking at the past. Check it out for yourself.
In the end, it came down to Uwe von Schamann. All he needed was 41-yards to give the Sooners a victory. Six seconds was all he needed. The Sooners trailed 28-26.
However, there was just one thing that stopped von Schamaan from winning the game for Oklahoma. Woody Hayes called a timeout. YEP!
Even in 1977, college coaches were trying to ice the kicker. Yes, even a coach with as much prestige as Hayes. I bet Knute Rockne did the same thing back in the ’20s.
To understand how it reached a game-winning situation we need to start from the beginning.
Oklahoma marched in early and scored two rushing touchdowns in the first five minutes to jump out to a 14-0 lead.
The first came on a fumble that running back Elvis Peacock scooped up and took into the end zone.
Sims scored later on a 15-yard run up the middle, swiftly moving into the end zone.
The Buckeyes offense struggled, while the defense kept getting pummeled upfront by Oklahoma’s line.
By the early second quarter, Oklahoma had a 20-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Sooners started to wear down, or at least Sims and quarterback Thomas Lott did.
The Buckeyes started to wake up thanks to Ohio State quarterback Rod Gerald, who helped with the first score for the Buckeyes on a 31-yard option pitch to Ron Springs. The score was 20-7 at that point.
The struggles continued for Oklahoma as a fumble set up the Buckeyes in the Sooners red zone. Gerald once again proved to be a nightmare for the Oklahoma defense as he rushed 19-yards for another score.
While the game went to halftime with the Sooners leading 20-14. However, it was clear by that point the Buckeyes had the momentum.
Hayes used the T-formation a little more in the second half, incorporating fullback Joel Payton into the mix. Payton scored on a one-yard run as the Buckeyes had the lead for the first time in the game with 8:04 left in the third.
Another touchdown later in the third, a tipped pass by Greg Castignola landed in tight end Jimmy Moore’s hands and gave the Buckeyes a 28-20 lead.
Ohio State scored 28 unanswered and the Sooners seemed to lack an answer after the loss of both Lott and Sims to injuries.
Time was running out for Oklahoma. They had the ball with less than four minutes in the game and still trailed by eight.
On fourth and goal at the two with less than two minutes left in the game, Dean Blevins, in at quarterback for Lott, pitched the ball to Peacock, who dove and twisted his way into the end zone for a score. The Sooners tried it again with Peacock, but Ohio State was ready and the two-point conversion fell short.
Ohio State led 28-26, but momentum started to sway back in Oklahoma’s direction. The Sooners immediately recovered the onside kick and got close enough for von Schamann to get the win.
And now we get back to the timeout by Hayes. Maybe I’m naive and young (okay I am), but I’m amazed by how far back the whole icing the kicker thing goes.
This kind of move is reserved for the desperate, or should I say, every football coach ever. It’s dumb, but coaches still choose to try it.
It happened in the past, it happens in the present. In fact, I fully expect it to happen in the future when it will likely be robot players. Hell, I bet it happens in Jon Bois’ future version of football.
Woody’s timeout did not work out for the Buckeyes as von Schamann easily made the 41-yarder to get the 29-28 win.
To this day, it’s known as “The Kick.” It’s arguably one of the greatest field goal-related moments in college football history. It’s hard to imagine something like this happening in this day and age.
What’s crazier is Von Schamann was egging on the opposing chants of “Block That Kick.” That is confidence right there. I bet he could have made that kick from his own goal line.
Everyone uses the hashtag #COLLEGEKICKERS when some unlucky player shanks a 21-yarder. Von Schamann made it look so easy. It made him a household name in Oklahoma.
Afterward, both teams stayed around the top 10 for much of the season. Two weeks later, the Sooners lost their first game of the season 13-6 to the fifth ranked Texas Longhorns in the Red River Shootout.
Oklahoma won the Big 8 outright. They would go on as the second ranked team to lose the Orange Bowl to Arkansas 31-6.
Ohio State used the loss to rally and win seven straight games, including back-to-back shutouts against Wisconsin and Illinois.
The Buckeyes defense suffocated opposing offense, allowing five points per game during that streak.
Unfortunately for Ohio State, they lost their final regular season game against Michigan 14-6. They’d follow that up with a 35-6 loss in the Sugar Bowl to Alabama.
Millions (okay maybe not that many) of stories have been told about this game. It’s a story that has stood the test of time and will likely continue to be told for generations, at least in the state of Oklahoma.
Saturday’s game might not match the moment created on that fall afternoon 40 years ago. However, there is a chance that it could be a special game when these two hook up again.