College football Throwback Thursday: 1977 "The Kick"
As Week 3 quickly approaches, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 14 Oklahoma prepare to face off in a potentially dramatic matchup of titanic proportions. These two teams have a lot on the line this Saturday—each looking for a boost for its Playoff hopes. But, it is not just Playoff dreams that fuel these teams. Ohio State and Oklahoma have a history.
Ohio State and Oklahoma remain two teams with some of the most winningest programs in history, specifically placing fourth and fifth, respectively. They each hold more than five national championship titles and at least five Heisman winners.
However, the two have only faced each other twice before in college football history—in 1983, where Ohio State won 24-14, and in 1977, where Oklahoma won 29-28. Oklahoma remains one of the biggest tradition-heavy schools in college football, and interlaced within some of that history are stories of big wins over big teams. The 1977 holds a special place in Sooners’ history.
In 1977, Oklahoma kicked a field goal in the last seconds of the game to defeat Ohio State. From that day forward, this 1977 game was often referred to as “The Kick,” so in this Throwback Thursday story, we take a look at what happened in the last moments of that ’77 Week 3 matchup.
On Sept. 24, 1977, the No. 3 Sooners stepped into Ohio Stadium to take on the No. 4 Buckeyes in the first match up between the two powerhouse programs in history.
Early on in the game, Oklahoma gained a large 20-0 lead, but after a few injuries in the second quarter, Ohio State quickly caught up, eventually taking the lead themselves with a score of 28-20 in the third.
“When we lost Thomas Lott, it turned to hell,” said former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer. “We turned the ball over, made mistakes, couldn't get a first down. It was a different game. We played horrible.”
Late in the fourth quarter, with only about two minutes left in the game, Oklahoma’s Mixon Peacock rushed into the endzone, posting another six for the Sooners, after a march down the field. Switzer called for a two-point conversion. However, the Buckeyes’ defense held Peacock from moving into the endzone once again.
Down by two, Oklahoma attempted an onside kick. Sooner Babb Taylor recovered the ball, and the Sooners’ offensive unit returned to the field, needing at least a field goal to win.
After two quick first-down conversions, Oklahoma paused at Ohio State’s 26-yard line, unable to pass the Buckeyes’ defense. After making a few attempts to move farther down the field, the Sooners found themselves fourth-and-one at Ohio State’s 23-yard line.
Oklahoma kicker Uwe von Schamann stepped onto the field with six seconds remaining, ready to kick a game-winning field goal. However, in attempts to “ice” the kicker, Ohio State called a timeout.
As von Schamann retook the field, the crowd made up of about 90,000 Buckeyes’ fans began chanting “Block that kick,” and von Schamann motioned his hands to the crowd, as if leading the chant.
"I don't know why I did that. It was spontaneous. I was playing along with the crowd, having fun," von Schamann said. "But I stayed focused. As far as icing me, that didn't work. The timeout didn't make me have any doubt about making that kick. It just delayed it a little bit. When I led the chant, it was something I did to waste a little time and have a little fun with the crowd. I was confident I'd make that kick."
And, as it was said before, he sent the ball through the uprights. Oklahoma led 29-28.
But, the game was not over yet. With just three seconds left in the game, Oklahoma prepared to allow Ohio State to regain possession, but after a delay of game penalty and a short kick by von Schamann, the Buckeyes’ offense took a shot at a potential miracle play of its own.
“As a coach that was the greatest thrill for me at the end,” said Switzer after the game. “Our team fought their guts out in a game of 60 minutes. It was a miracle to get that on-side chance.”
Still, Ohio State ran out of time, and Oklahoma returned to Norman with a win and the story of “The Kick.”
“The last 39 years, there's not one month that goes by where somebody doesn't bring up 'The Kick.' It's just incredible to me,” said von Schamann. “But, I never get tired of talking about it. I like sharing it. Sharing that moment with the fans.”
Now, as the two teams meet for the third time in history, potentially with Playoff hopes on the line, one may wonder if a similar story will arise come Saturday. But, if a close game occurs again, who will walk away with a new story to add to the history books?