1956 Orange Bowl
|1956 Orange Bowl|
|Date||January 2, 1956|
|Favorite||Oklahoma by 7 points|
|United States TV coverage|
|Announcers||Tom Harmon & Chris Schenkel|
Oklahoma and Maryland were the respectives champions of the Big Seven Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference; both were undefeated and ranked in the top three. (The Rose Bowl matched up #2 Michigan State and #4 UCLA.) This was Oklahoma's ninth consecutive conference title under Wilkinson and tenth straight overall, with a 30-game winning streak. Maryland shared the ACC title with Duke, though the Terrapins reached the Orange Bowl for the first time since January 1954, which was also against Oklahoma. Tatum had coached the Sooners in 1946 before departing for Maryland. Oklahoma entered the game favored by a touchdown.
Maryland scored on a 15-yard touchdown run by Ed Vereb and led 6–0 at halftime. The Sooners took over in the second half, starting with Tommy McDonald's 32-yard punt return that gave them the ball at the Terrapin 46. Seven plays later, McDonald score on a four-yard touchdown run, the highlight being the Sooner offense running 3 plays in 38 seconds. The next Sooner possession used the hurry-up offense again, leading to a Jay O'Neal touchdown sneak to make it 14–6. Maryland tried to narrow the lead, but Jerry Tubbs intercepted a pass at the Sooner 26. Maryland tried to score again in the fourth, even reaching Oklahoma's 30. However, Carl Dodd intercepted Lynn Beightol's pass and returned it 82 yards for the touchdown, sealing the victory for the Sooners; they had already sealed the national championship as both final polls were released in late November, at the end of the regular season.
The Terrapins did not return to the Orange Bowl for 46 years, until January 2002, also a defeat. Oklahoma again went undefeated in 1956 and repeated as consensus national champions, but did not play a bowl game. At the time, the Big Seven had a no-repeat policy for the postseason, so the Sooners did not play in bowl games after the 1954 and 1956 seasons. They returned to the Orange Bowl the following season in January 1958 and won, but their win streak had been ended at 47 by Notre Dame in mid-November with a 7–0 shutout in Norman.
- "Eight of top 11 teams play". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 2, 1956. p. 48.
- "Oklahoma rallies to beat Maryland, 20-6". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 3, 1956. p. 18.