In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Notre Dame stuns Oklahoma 7-0 in Norman, ending the Sooners' record 47-game winning streak. It also was the first time in 123 games that Oklahoma was shut out. The game’s only score came late in the fourth quarter when Dick Lynch caught a toss from quarterback Bob Williams on fourth and goal from the three. The play capped a 20-play, 80-yard scoring drive that took the spirit from Oklahoma.
Coming off back-to-back National Championships and having not lost a game in over four years, the Oklahoma Sooners, coached by Bud Wilkinson, appeared to roll to another championship. The Sooners' last loss came on September 26, 1953, when they were beaten by the Irish 28-21. A week later, Oklahoma played Pittsburgh to a 7-7 tie. The Sooners began their record march against Texas with a 19-14 win in the Red River Shootout. As part of the streak, Oklahoma got revenge against Notre Dame, with a 40-0 win in South Bend, during the 1956 season.
Heading into the matchup in Norman, the Sooners, with their 47-game winning streak, looked to be heading for another championship. Sports Illustrated, a publication that did not exist when the Sooners lost their last game, featured the team on the cover with the headline “Why Oklahoma is unbeatable.” That issue hit newsstands the weekend that Notre Dame went back to Norman, holding a 4-2 record. The Irish were an 18-point underdog.
Oklahoma appeared to be in control early as they had the ball deep in Notre Dame territory three times but came away empty. Early in the second quarter, Notre Dame’s defense made another big play on defense when Nick Pietrosante sacked Sooners quarterback Carl Dodd and forced a fumble. The rest of the game, the Oklahoma offense seemed to be on their heels, as Notre Dame limited the Sooners' vaunted rushing attack to 98 yards. Realizing that Oklahoma could not get anything going on offense, Coach Bud Wilkinson was content to settle for a tie. However, Irish Coach Terry Brennan looked for the upset as they began their long scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Bob Williams was perfect on the Notre Dame drive, which took 20-plays to go 80 yards for the game’s only score with 3:50 left in the fourth quarter. After the Irish 7-0 win, many Oklahoma fans sat stunned in silence and tears, refusing to believe the Sooners' 47-game winning streak that lasted 1,512 days was over.
Notre Dame would suffer an upset on their own a week later, losing to Iowa in South Bend 21-13, before beating USC and SMU to finish the year with a record of 7-3. Oklahoma would win their final two regular-season games against Nebraska and Oklahoma State. They would go on to play in the Orange Bowl, beating Duke 48-21, and finished the year with a record of 10-1, good enough to finish with the #4 ranking in the final AP poll. The Sooners' loss to Notre Dame helped give birth to the legend of the SI Jinx, as some blamed their appearance on Sports Illustrated for their loss.