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1971 Oklahoma Sooners football team


1971 Oklahoma Sooners football team

Sugar Bowl Champions
, W 40–22 vs. Auburn
Conference Big Eight Conference
Coaches #3
AP #2
1971 record 11–1 (6–1 Big 8)
Head coach Chuck Fairbanks (5th year)
Offensive coordinator Barry Switzer (6th year)
Offensive scheme Wishbone
Defensive coordinator Larry Lacewell (2nd year)
Home stadium Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Capacity: 61,836)

The 1971 Oklahoma Sooners football team represented the University of Oklahoma in the college football 1971 NCAA University Division season. Oklahoma Sooners football participated in the former Big Eight Conference at that time and played its home games in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium where it has played its home games since 1923.[1] The team posted an 11–1 and 6–1 conference record to under head coach Chuck Fairbanks.[2][3] The Sooners finished the season ranked #2, losing only once, 35–31 to eventual national champion Nebraska in the 1971 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma football game, which has become known as Game of the Century.

In 1971, offensive coordinator Barry Switzer perfected the wishbone offense as it led the nation in both scoring (45 points average) and total yards (563 total yards average), and set an NCAA record by averaging over 472.4 (5196 in 11 games) rushing yards in a season.[4] The team holds the current school record with 7.07 yards per rushing attempt and 7.6 yards per play as well as the records for 469.6 rushing yards (5635 in 12 games counting bowl game) and 566.83 yards of total offense per game. The team also holds the single-season rushing touchdowns record of 62 and rushing touchdowns per game record of 5.17. The team's records of 711 single-game rushing yards and 785 total yards stood for nine seasons.[5] Jack Mildren's single-season record for yards rushing by a quarterback of 1140 would be broken three seasons later by Freddie Solomon.[6]

Greg Pruitt set the current national single-season record with 8.98 yards per attempt,[7] the school's single-game records of 294 rushing yards and 374 all-purpose yards. Meanshile, Jon Harrison set the single-season and career yards per reception with 29.1 and 27.0.[8] His 2066 single-season all-purpose yards record stood until Quentin Griffin broke it in 2002. Joe Wylie's kickoff return average record of 28.5 stood for 27 years.[9]

The team was led by three All-Americans: Pruitt,[7] Tom Brahaney[10] and Jack Mildren.[11] The team won its first nine games on a schedule that included five ranked opponents (In order, #17 USC, #3 Texas, #6 Colorado, #1 Nebraska and #5 Auburn). All five of these opponents finished the season ranked. The only loss was to Nebraska. They played Auburn in the and won 40–22.[3]

Pruitt led the team in rushing with 1760 yards, Mildren led the team in passing yards for the third straight season with 889 yards and also in scoring with 12 points, Harrison led the team in receiving with 494 yards, Mark Driscoll led the team in tackles with 134, and John Shelly led the team in interceptions with 5.[12]


Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 18 SMU* #10 Oklahoma Memorial StadiumNorman, OK W 30–0   53,545[13]
September 25 at Pittsburgh* #11 Pitt StadiumPittsburgh, PA W 55–29   34,916[13]
October 2 #17 USC* #8 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium • Norman, OK W 33–20   62,351[13]
October 9 vs. #3 Texas* #8 Cotton BowlDallas, TX (Red River Shootout) CBS W 48–27   72,032[13]
October 16 #6 Colorado #2 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium • Norman, OK W 45–17   62,501[13]
October 23 at Kansas State #2 KSU StadiumManhattan, KS W 75–28   37,198[13]
October 30 Iowa State #2 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium • Norman, OK W 39–7   60,477[13]
November 6 at Missouri #2 Memorial StadiumColumbia, MO W 20–3   55,098[13]
November 13 Kansas #2 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium • Norman, OK ABC W 56–10   54,347[13]
November 25 #1 Nebraska #2 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium • Norman, OK (Rivalry) ABC L 31–35   62,884[13]
December 4 at Oklahoma State #3 Lewis FieldStillwater, OK (Bedlam Series) W 58–14   36,571[13]
January 1 vs. #5 Auburn* #3 Tulane StadiumNew Orleans, LA () ABC W 40–22   84,031[13]
*Non-conference game. Homecoming. #Rankings from AP Poll.


Game notes

Texas (Red River Shootout)

#8 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #3 Texas Longhorns
1 234Total
#8 Oklahoma 14 17710 48
#3 Texas 14 760 27


#6 Colorado Buffaloes at #2 Oklahoma Sooners
1 234Total
#6 Colorado 0 0170 17
#2 Oklahoma 14 10714 45

Kansas State

1 234Total
• Oklahoma 14 271321 75
Kansas St 7 777 28


Oklahoma State

#3 Oklahoma Sooners at Oklahoma State Cowboys
1 234Total
#3 Oklahoma 17 20714 58
Oklahoma State 0 707 14

Awards and honors

Team players drafted into the NFL

Player Position Round Pick NFL Club
Jack Mildren Defensive Back 2 46 Baltimore Colts
Al Quallis Linebacker 8 191 Baltimore Colts
Roy Bell Running Back 9 234 Dallas Cowboys

Awards & Honors


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