All-American quarterback Jack Mildren carves his legend into the annals of Oklahoma Football against top-ranked Nebraska in the 1971 College Football Game of the Century, running for two touchdowns and passing for two—and nearly a third.
On a cold, overcast Thanksgiving Day exactly half a century ago, the most dramatic and momentous college football game ever played unfolded before a record in-person crowd on Owen Field in Norman, Oklahoma, and before the largest television audience ever to watch a college football game, more than 55 million people.
Top-ranked Nebraska, defending champions, undefeated since 1969, and generally considered both the greatest defensive team and, including by ESPN, the greatest overall team in college football history, met the greatest rushing team and perhaps the greatest offensive team ever, second-ranked Oklahoma.
Seventeen of that season’s 22 All-Big Eight Conference players played in the game. The Big Eight finished the season with the #1, #2, and #3-ranked teams in the nation. Twenty-five Cornhuskers later played in the NFL. All four of their defensive linemen became first-team All-Americans—and none of them was even the best player on that defense. The game produced countless individual dramas and storylines. Not least was All-American OU quarterback Jack Mildren proving why OKLAHOMAN newspaper sportswriter Berry Tramel calls him “The most important player in OU football history.”
John and iHeartRadio star Gwin Faulconer-Lippert colorfully take you back to that memorable Thanksgiving Day. Gwin was not only there, she was on the field—including all five times the Sooners scored—riding behind the twin white ponies Boomer and Sooner on the Sooner Schooner as OU’s Ruf/Nek queen, just like she is in the LIFE magazine picture below. John merely watched it on TV, along with those 55 million other people. It is the only time he ever remembers seeing his mother cry. For better or worse, that is Oklahoma Football, especially on that day.
It’s the 39th episode of our weekly OKLAHOMA GOLD! radio program and podcast. Go HERE to listen to them all! Future episodes explore more great heroes, events, and movements of Oklahoma History.
OKLAHOMA GOLD! hostess and iHeartRadio star Gwin Faulconer-Lippert rides the thundering Sooner Schooner as 1971 OU Ruf/Nek queen.
The front cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED the week of the 1971 Game of the Century between Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Be sure to check out all of our other episodes of the weekly OKLAHOMA GOLD! radio program and podcast. Go HERE to keep up with them all. Future episodes explore more great heroes, events, and movements of Oklahoma History.
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