It was playing against the likes of Notre Dame that made that dream seem so large. The fact the Sooners’ winning streak has losses to Notre Dame at both ends is what brings out so much nostalgia.
Jay Wilkinson believes he’s met thousands of people who claim they either watched OU’s loss to Notre Dame in person or on television.
Ask any player who played for the Sooners in 1957, and it is the game that still sticks in the heads. Bud Wilkinson told his team at halftime of that game wins are easy to forget, but losses stick around for a lifetime.
“Fifty years later, he was right about that,” former OU running back Jakie Sandefer said. “I’m semi-famous for being the starting halfback on the day we lost.”
The Sooners and Fighting Irish have met five more times since the 1957 loss. At least one of the programs was influx in every meeting. That includes 1999 when OU lost to the Fighting Irish in Bob Stoops’ first season.
Stoops isn’t building up the history between the schools this week. Why would he? OU’s 1-8 all-time against Notre Dame, and they’ve played just once since Lyndon Johnson was president.
But those who were around for the building of OU’s tradition remember how big it was the first time the Sooners played Notre Dame and what it was like to beat them.
“People have long memories and OU’s fans have great pride in the great tradition that was built not only through my day but Barry Switzer and Coach Stoops and all the great players that have played,” Wilkinson said. “ So, yeah, I’m thrilled they’re coming and I really hope we lay it to them.”