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Oklahoma vs. Ohio State: Dean's Memories of 1977 & Keys to 2016

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Here's a Q & A on OU vs Ohio State. Both Saturday's classic and the memorable rally and OU win at Ohio Stadium in 1977. 

Question: I know you quarterbacked OU in our classic win in Columbus in 1977.  What’s your favorite memory from that game?

A: Two things stand out. Fans tend to not recognize the importance of wind. The wind that day was 15-mph gusting to twenty from the south. The teams scored 54 of the game’s 57 points at the stadium’s north end with the wind at their back. I remember taking over after recovering a mid-fourth quarter fumble around midfield and just feeling the wind behind us and telling the guys in the huddle that we were going to go score and get out of town with a tie. We were down eight at the time. Well, we hit a pass, got some momentum, scored when I pitched to Elvis Peacock from the one. We ran the same play on the two-point attempt, but Elvis was stopped short. After recovering the onside kick, I vividly remember smiling in the huddle and telling the guys, “forget what I told you five minutes ago. If you don’t bust and we hold onto the ball, we’re gonna win this SOB.” Of course we hit another pass – 17-yarder to sure-handed Steve Rhodes, and my huddle message was loud and confident: “No penalty, no fumble, this game is ours!” We set Sweet Meat Uwe von Schamman up for the 41-yarder and with that prevailing wind, he flushed it. Literally would’ve been good from 65 yards. The other memory is the feeling of ecstasy that comes with forcing a crowd to go from screaming at the top of its lungs, to eerily quiet. Except for the few hundred loyal Sooner fans who’d made the trek to Ohio. Urban Meyer said earlier this week at his news conference that he’d been told Ohio Stadium had never been louder than it was on that September day when the stadium did not hold the 105,000 it currently handles. Upon hearing Coach Meyer’s comments, I tweeted that it might have been loud but it was beautifully quiet after Uwe’s game-winner.

Question: What do you think of Austin Kendall’s comments dissing the Ohio State defense?

A: I was terribly disappointed a quarterback would not be smarter than to pop off like that. Definitely, a rookie mistake. I’m not much of a rah-rah guy, and I understand this was the first time Kendall has been in a media setting with a live audience. But that’s no excuse and I’m sure he was scolded by OC Lincoln Riley and Bob Stoops. A game like this gets the maximum effort out of every player on every play – or, you’d like to think it does. So being fired up about a comment doesn’t do much in terms of the actual execution of a play. But it is inspirational and something an opponent will use to stay focused. And it’s something that will be talked about if the Buckeye defense has a good day in an OSU win. I found it interesting that Meyer and players were already referring to it Thursday morning after it being said Wednesday night. An unforced error.

Question: Is the Ohio State defense for real?

A: The defense is absolutely for real. On tape they are powerful and control the line of scrimmage. Big, fast linebackers run to sideline to sideline as well as any team I’ve seen. And a secondary that replaced three starters already has an incredible seven interceptions in just two games, returning three for touchdowns. Sophomore safety Malik Hooker leads the FBS with three interceptions through two games. He’s a superstar. Corner Marshon Lattimore is terrific. The other corner, Gareon Conley is the lone returner on the backend. Baker Mayfield must be decisive and accurate. These guys haven’t played much but they are incredible playmakers. I love MLB Raekwon McMillan. He’ll make OU’s zone read a tough play to pick up much yardage. Especially with two stellar defensive ends. No. 59 is returning starter Tyquan Lewis. No. 6 is Sam Hubbard, who was a freshman All-American last season, but did not start. He’s a perfect example of this Buckeye defense. Not a returning starter (OSU returns just 3 starters on D) but tons of big-game playing time and success, a physical specimen at 6-5 by 266, along with being swift and able to lift the building. The game could turn on whether OU’s offensive line is able to generate a push. I’m not very optimistic about this proposition. And if the Sooners can’t run successfully, they’ll find themselves behind the chains more than they’d like. And that’s where Ohio State is at its best. It will take a turnover-free game sprinkled in with a good number of big plays to win this game. A very tall order.

Question: Besides quarterback J.T. Barrett, which Ohio State offensive player should the Sooners’ defense be most worried about?

A: Keep an eye on Curtis Samuel, No. 4, who plays the H-Back that Urban Meyer made famous with Percy Harvin at Florida. Meyer says Samuel is the exact player he’s been looking for since he’s been in Columbus. Scary thought. Calls him a Cadillac, a RB/slot receiver combo who has rushed the ball 21 times for 162 times. More startling is this stat: Samuel has been targeted 14 times. And he has 14 receptions for 239 yards. Yes, 14 for 14. Alternate H-Back Dontrae Wilson would start for about 120 FBS teams and is dangerous as well.

The key on defense will be to stop the run without giving up the home run ball. You can look for the Buckeyes to go deep most every time they catch the Sooners in man to man. And of course, they’ll look to exploit the corner opposite Jordan Thomas. True freshman Parrish Cobb must play well. He can’t be overly concerned about the deep ball and consistently get beat underneath. But he for sure can’t get beat deep. OU needs to make OSU earn their points and not get them on big shots.

Question: I hear Ohio State is wearing throwback uniforms for Saturday’s big game. Is Stoops doing the same thing with the Sooners? Boomer!

A: Stoops said at his news conference on Monday that OU is not wearing throwback unis this week. I wish the schools had gotten together and either both worn throwbacks or both go traditional. However, since this is a Big Boy Game and you are a Big ‘Ol Boy, I’m gonna drop some serious knowledge on you concerning uniforms.  

A good friend of mine sent me the following information about a 50-year anniversary that is timely. He tells me September 17, 1966, is the day one of the most famous and largest changes in uniforms-equipment in Oklahoma football history was made. The Sooners left the traditional white helmets with a single red stripe and numbers on each side (1957-65).  They debuted an all red helmet with an interlocking white OU that basically is still used today.  My friend goes on to say the Sooners played Oregon on that 1966 Saturday, and the Sooners beat Oregon, the latest version of uniform changers----17-0.

The red used in 1966 was closer to Arkansas red.  Rumor has it that the Arkansas influence from the coaches hired off Arkansas’ Frank Broyles staff set the color.  (The red was subsequently changed to crimson in 1976.)  That September 17th also signified a change from the Jim Tatum, Bud Wilkinson and Gomer Jones family- era of coaches, and rang in the regime of a new coaching tree, the late Jim Makenzie, Chuck Fairbanks and Barry Switzer.

Thanks for checking in! Sooners will have to play their best to win this one. But history says Bob Stoops is always best when his back is to the wall. And with one loss and staring at TCU and Texas, no question Oklahoma’s back is to the wall.

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