Emotional moment

New Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley wipes away a tear Wednesday as he talks about taking over for Bob Stoops during a press conference at Oklahoma memorial Stadium. 

Editor's note: Read more stories in "125 Years of OU Football," a special magazine by the Norman Transcript, available on newsstands now.

Oklahoma celebrates 125 years of football this year.

The Sooners hold fond memories of winning national titles and Heisman Trophy winners as one of college football's blue-blood programs. 

Here are 25 of some of the most important moments in OU football history:

1895 — OU football is born

John A. Harts established Oklahoma's first football team. Harts, who was a student and teacher at the university, founded the program in Bud Risinger's Norman barbershop, according to OU Athletics.

1905 —Bennie Owen hired

Bennie Owen provided OU's football program with its first sense of stability for 22 seasons. He coached four undefeated teams — 1911, 1915, 1918 and 1920.

1923 — Memorial Stadium opens

OU won its first game at the venue fans know today, 63-7, over Washington (Missouri) on Oct. 20, 1923. The original stadium included bleachers on the east side of the field and seated less than 500 spectators. 

1939 — OU stuns Northwestern

Then-OU coach Tom Stidham helped end the school's drought against Northwestern with a 23-0 win on Oct. 7, 1939. The win was monumental considering Northwestern was the preseason favorite to win the 1939 national title, according to SoonerSports.com.

1947 — Wilkinson takes over

Jim Tatum only coached OU in 1946 and led the team to an 8-3 season, but then bounced for Maryland. The move turned out just fine for the Sooners, who landed Bud Wilkinson the following year.

1948 — Memorial Stadium comes full circle

OU enclosed Oklahoma Memorial Stadium's north end zone and lowered the field to make way for an additional 23,000 seats. The stadium expansion was the biggest in school history in terms of seating.

1952 — Vessels torches Notre Dame

OU running back Billy Vessels had a monster performance against Notre Dame that season. Vessels rushed for 195 yards and scored three touchdowns, which propelled him to win OU’s first Heisman Trophy.

1957 — Sooners’ winning streak ends

OU met Notre Dame on Nov. 16, 1957. The Irish scored one touchdown but it's all they needed in a 7-0 win that ended OU's NCAA record 47-game winning streak, which spanned 1953-57.

1967 — Jim Mackenzie dies after first season

Jim Mackenzie died at 37 from a heart attack after coaching OU for one season. Mackenzie led OU to a 6-4 campaign with wins over Texas and Nebraska and earned Big Eight Coach of the Year honors from the AP. Barry Switzer would take over coaching the Sooners. 

1969 — Steve Owens' 55 carries

OU narrowly beat its Bedlam rival 28-27 on Nov. 29, 1969. Steven Owens, who won the Heisman Trophy that season, recorded 55 carries and 261 rushing yards. 

1971 — The Game of the Century

No. 2-ranked Oklahoma met No. 1-ranked Nebraska in a classic Thanksgiving battle on Nov. 25, 1971. The Sooners fought back from a 28-17 deficit to take a 3-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Cornhuskers won 35-31 on a late-game drive, however, to seal the historic victory.

1974 — Switzer flips Sims

Billy Sims verbally committed to Baylor out of Hooks (Texas) High School. Then-OU coach Barry Switzer flipped the running back to the Sooners, famously calling Sims at his job at a Conoco service station during halftime of an OU-Colorado game in Boulder. Sims emerged as a two-time consensus All-American and won the 1978 Heisman Trophy.

1977 — The Kick

No. 3-ranked OU and No. 4-ranked Ohio State battled Sept. 24, 1977 in Columbus, Ohio. The Sooners led 20-0 at halftime but found themselves trailing by two with six seconds remaining in regulation. OU kicker Uwe von Schamann nailed a 41-yard field goal to save the day.

1985 — The Ice Bowl

Bedlam has seen suboptimal conditions but maybe none as unbearable as the "Ice Bowl" on Nov. 30, 1985. Snow and ice still couldn't stop OU from winning 13-0, which kept its national title hopes alive. 

1985 — No. 6

A month after the Ice Bowl, OU knocked off top-ranked Penn State to win its sixth national title at the Orange Bowl. The Sooners redeemed their Orange Bowl loss from the year prior by beating the Nittany Lions 25-10.

1996 — OU wins first Big 12 OT game

The 1996 meeting between OU and Texas was a game of firsts. The meeting marked OU and Texas' first time playing each other as Big 12 Conference members. It also marked the Big 12's first overtime game after the extra period rule was adjusted. The Sooners won 30-27.

2001 — OU wins national title

In his second season as OU’s head coach, Bob Stoops led OU to its seventh national championship with a 13-2 win over Florida State.

2003 — 77-0

A year after Texas A&M spoiled OU's 8-0 start to the 2002 season, the Sooners destroyed the Aggies 77-0 on Nov. 8, 2003. Texas A&M was held to 54 yards of offense to OU's 639.

2008 — 'Jump Around'

No. 5-ranked OU throttled No. 2-ranked Texas Tech 65-21 in a primetime clash between the schools in Norman. OU fans brought noise levels at Owen Field to a roar while dancing to House of Pain's 1992 hit “Jump Around” right before halftime of the contest, with OU leading 42-7.

2010 — OU-Nebraska Big 12 title game

OU's last meeting with rival Nebraska came Dec. 4, 2010 in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Sooners won 23-20. OU and Nebraska's rivalry will be renewed in 2021.

2014 — OU beats Alabama in Sugar Bowl

An up-and-down season ended with OU's 45-31 win over No. 3-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The game was arguably the best of former quarterback Trevor Knight's college career.

2015 — Stoops hires Riley

Bob Stoops restructured his coaching staff in 2015 with a notable addition at offensive coordinator: Lincoln Riley. Stoops hired Riley away from East Carolina, setting up a two-year quasi-grooming process.

2016 — Mayfield gets one more year

On June 2, 2016, the Big 12 granted Baker Mayfield an extra year of eligibility, allowing him to stay for the 2017 season. He ultimately won the Heisman Trophy as a fifth-year senior.

2017 — Stoops retires

Former OU coach Bob Stoops stepped down from the program on June 7, 2017, as its winningest head coach with 190 victories to his name. Lincoln Riley was named his successor the same day. 

2018 — Kyler Murray wins Heisman

The Texas A&M transfer led OU to the College Football Playoff and a Big 12 title win over Texas. Arguably the most impressive aspect of Murray’s season was it followed Baker Mayfield’s Heisman season.

Joe Buettner is a sports reporter for the Norman Transcript. You can contact him at (405) 366-3557 or jbuettner@normantranscript.com.

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