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Jayhawk Flashback: Oklahoma, 10/4/97


[Ed. Note: This is a blog post from four years ago, but I figured it was relevant this week because this shows video of the last Kansas University football victory over Oklahoma on Oct. 4, 1997. What follows is the exact wording from my blog post on Aug. 28, 2009.]

On media day two weeks ago, Kansas coach Mark Mangino said that winning six or seven games per year wasn't what he came to Kansas to accomplish.

The coach hinted that his program needed to take the next step and starting beating top-tier programs — the Oklahomas, Texases and Texas Techs of the Big 12.

So when was the last time that the Jayhawks defeated the Sooners in football?

Let's rewind back to Oct. 4, 1997 — a year when I was in middle school, Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term as U.S. president, Titanic debuted in movie theaters and the Florida Marlins, led by MVP Livan Hernandez, defeated the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

The highlights of KU's 20-17 victory over OU at Memorial Stadium are below. The TV highlights are shown first, and after that, some other game highlights are tacked onto the end.

Because this game is older, and because photos and stories from it are not in the archives our Web site, we're going to go with a little bit of a different formula for this flashback.

I pulled out the microfilm of the Lawrence Journal-World from Oct. 5, 1997, to come up with these notes from the game.

The victory was actually KU's third straight over OU. That hadn't happened since the 1922-24 seasons.

After OU's final missed field goal, KU simply knelt-down twice to run out the clock. KU coach Terry Allen went to shake hands, but OU coach John Blake left him empty-handed.

"I don't like to run across the field and not get a handshake," Allen said after the game, "but I'm not throwing stones."


Tony Blevins' punt return for touchdown in the video was officially 56 yards. Eric Vann's long run, however, was officially 99 yards. At the time, Vann was only the fifth player in NCAA history to have a 99-yard touchdown run, and he was the first to do so since 1977.

As you may know, KU's Gale Sayers also accomplished the feat in 1963 against Nebraska.

Vann's 99-yard TD run was KU's only first down of the second half. The Jayhawks ran just 13 offensive plays in the game's final 30 minutes.

This was the last of 95 consecutive seasons that KU and OU played in football. Because of the newly formed Big 12 conference, Oklahoma State was substituted for OU on the schedule in 1998.

Other KU names of note from this game: Joe Garcia, who kicked a 51-yard field goal; and Dewey Houston III, who blocked OU's final field-goal attempt.


Blake lasted just one more year as coach at OU. He was with the Sooners three years, from 1996-98.

The victory improved KU to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference. It was only the fourth time out of the previous 30 years that the Jayhawks started the conference season 2-0*. The Jayhawks ended the season 5-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big 12.

OU, meanwhile, fell to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in conference after its loss to KU. The Sooners ended their year at 4-8 overall, 2-6 in conference.

* — KU has started the last two seasons (2007, 2008) 2-0 in the conference.

The Jayhawks trailed 10-3 at halftime and won despite having fewer yards than the Sooners (334-254). KU also had the ball 10 minutes less than OU (35:27-24:33).

The final two field-goal attempts caused quite a stir in the OU locker room. The Sooners made a 27-yard field goal attempt to tie the game at 20 but were flagged for an illegal formation penalty for only having six men on the line of scrimmage.

"We made the field goal. We cheered. Then the flag came out," OU coach John Blake said afterwards.

Added OU quarterback Eric Moore: "I didn't see any illegal procedure. I guess that's one of those home things."

The penalty turned out to be a double-whammy for OU. Because the Sooners faced a fourth-and-1 on their 27-yard field-goal attempt, Allen elected to keep his base defense on the field. After the penalty, though, fourth-and-1 became fourth-and-6, and the Jayhawks substituted to get their field-goal block team on the field.

The unit ended up winning the game for KU.


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