Championships of the Past: 1985 Oklahoma Sooners, part 3 of 4

Sooner quarterback Jamelle Holieway running the Wishbone.

In our third installment of Championships of the Past, we look at the 1985 Oklahoma Sooners. This team went 11-1 beating #1 Penn State in the Orange Bowl 25-10 to win its 6th National Championship and 34th Big 8 Conference title (now the BIG 12). The Sooners started the season with one superstar quarterback, Troy Aikmen, but ended it with true freshman phenom, Jamelle Holieway.  It also brought to light a new All-American Linebacker named Brian Bosworth (The Boz) who would anchor a stout defense that held eight of its opponents to single digits.

They began the 1985 campaign 3-0 beating Minnesota, Kansas State, and Texas. Then came Miami. The Hurricanes were the nation’s top offensive team led by quarterback Vinny Testaverde. This team also included star players Michael Irvin, Alonzo Highsmith and Jerome Brown. Brown sacked Aikmen in the 2nd quarter breaking his ankle. He would be out for the rest of the year. Miami won 27-14. It would be the only lose for the Sooners.

All-American Linebacker Brian Bosworth

The next big contest was on November 23, 1985 as the #2 Nebraska Cornhuskers came into town. They came into the game with the highest scoring offense and best rushing, averaging 395 yards per game led by fullback Tom Rathman. The Sooners started fast with a reverse to tight end Keith Jackson from quarterback Jamelle Holieway going 88 yards for a touchdown. The Oklahoma defense was also spectacular led by Brain Bosworth with 9 tackles. They shut down the powerful Cornhusker offense 27-7 moving themselves into position to take on #1 Penn State on January 1, 1986 in the Orange Bowl.

From Wikipedia about the Orange Bowl game: “Earlier in the day, UCLA had crushed #4 Iowa 45-28 in the Rose Bowl. SEC champion Tennessee and Miami were playing in the Sugar Bowl, with the Hurricanes allowed an outside shot at the title with a Penn State loss. The Sooners needed either a win combined with a Miami loss or a blowout victory to claim the title during the 1986 Orange Bowl. On their opening possession, Oklahoma reached into their bag of tricks and a handoff to Keith Jackson was flipped to Anthony Stafford, but linebacker Shane Conlan was ready for it, stuffing the play for a two-yard loss. This set the initial tempo of the game, as the Penn State defense showed itself to be ready for the speedy Sooner wishbone option. The game was very close, and remained a defensive struggle into the 4th quarter, but Oklahoma proved to be too much for the Lions, particularly after it was announced at the half that Tennessee was pounding Miami to the tune of 28-7 in the Sugar Bowl. The Sooner defense played inspired football, Tim Lashar nailed four critical field goals, Keith Jackson caught a 71-yard bomb from Jamelle Holieway in stride, and Lydell Carr put the nail in the coffin with a brilliant 61-yard touchdown scamper with 1:42 remaining on the clock.” The Sooners beat Penn State 25-10 and claimed the team’s sixth National Championship.

The 2015 Sooner team will once again travel to the Orange Bowl where they take on Clemson in the College Football playoff semifinals. Can this team do what the 1985 team did and win Oklahoma another national championship? They’ll take their first step New Years Eve.


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