Sooners and Fighting Irish: Big Al reflects back on the OU and Notre Dame game in South Bend in 1999

TULSA - It is not as if these two teams meet that often.

In fact, the way the series has gone, OU fans are probably glad it happens only once or twice every 15 years or so.

Oklahoma is 1-9 vs Notre Dame, and you could certainly excuse Sooner fans for not wanting to rehash and revisit its past games against Notre Dame.

It was Notre Dame that stopped the 47-game winning streak back in 1957.

Barry Switzer never played Notre Dame so he's off the hook.

And of course last year. The Sooners suffered their second home loss of the season when the Irish and Manti Te'o won 30-13.

The 2012 game ( was Bob Stoops second against Notre Dame. He was the first-year head coach at OU when the Sooners made a trip to South Bend to play the Irish. It was the first loss of his career. 

Check out pictures from the 1999 game in our OU, Notre Dame Oct. 2, 1999 photo gallery. If you're reading this story on your phone click this link

Stoops remembers his team getting a 17-point lead in the first half, only to let it slip away. But Stoops learned a lesson at that game; his team did not know how to handle prosperity.

Stoops admits seeing his players laughing and giggling on the bench with the 17-point lead, and he says he knew right then, there would need to be an attitude adjustment.

OU went on to win the national championship the following season, and has won seven Big 12 Championships since then.

So obviously, his players got the picture.

What I remember about covering the game was this. I was so excited about being at Notre Dame for a game, I've forgotten most of the play by play games.

All I could think of was my first trip to South Bend, and how I didn't get in the game.

I went to college at Wisconsin-Platteville, which is in the southwest corner of the Dairy State. It is about five and and a half hours from South Bend.

One Friday night four of my buddies and myself were sitting around talking football, and the subject of USC-Notre Dame came up.

My bright idea? Lets head for South Bend and go watch John McKay and his Trojans get clobbered by Ara Parseghian and the Fighting Irish. It was about 1 a.m.

So here we go! This was the road trip before "Animal House."

The next thing I remember, a knock on our car window. It's the Notre Dame security yelling at us to get out of the parking lot. We were parked in Coach Parseghian's space. Holy cow! Coach was due here any minute.

So we woke up, pulled out of the lot, and realized we were in South Bend. With no tickets! This was USC-ND! The game of the year in 1973. And we had no way of getting in.

No problem, one of our buddies said someone will want to sell us five tickets.

We searched our pockets, and we had exactly $13.26 between the five of us.

Yea, we'll get in!

We didn't.

It's a good thing gas was only 28 cents a gallon at the time, and Big Mac's were just 39 cents.

So we headed back to good ol' Platteville U. listening to Notre Dame get clobbered by John McKay, his son J.J. McKay, and the rest of the USC Trojans.

More than 25 years later, I was in the stadium. Finally!

I remember the bands on the sideline, not in the stands. The close quarters to the field, and I do remember thinking OU was going to handle the Fighting Irish pretty good. That did not happen.

The stadium wasn't as big as I thought it was going to be, but the experience of being there on game day was outstanding. My colleague Aaron and I got there Friday night to send back pre-game stories, and wondering where "Rudy" was at that very moment.

Isn't that something?!

With all the great players and coaches that went through South Bend, Indiana, and I am thinking of a a scout team player who got on the field for one play!

Notre Dame really is something special.

Walking through campus during the fall is like dream-land if college football is your thing. It is one of those moments that is very hard to describe. But we took it all in, orange leaves, Touchdown Jesus, the fight songs, everything!

So here we are, OU back in South Bend after 13 years. If you have the means, try to make it up. For me it was a bucket-list must.

And this time, much like 1999, I promise I will not park in Coach Kelly's space. Or Ara's for that matter.

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