Oklahoma enjoyed a Christmas Fiesta 45 years ago, beating Wyoming 41-7

In a game that was billed as a battle of wishbone offenses, Oklahoma and head coach Barry Switzer left looking like the masters of it in the Sooners’ only Christmas Day bowl game in program history.

Oklahoma entered the 1976 Fiesta Bowl as co-Big 8 champions after an 8-2-1 regular season. The Sooners were heavy favorites against a Wyoming team that was making its first postseason appearance in eight seasons after winning the Western Athletic Conference.

OU was a three-touchdown favorite against the Cowboys. Wyoming was led by head coach Fred Akers who would leave after the game’s conclusion to become the head coach at Texas from the 1977-86 seasons.

Oklahoma topped Wyoming 41-7 on that Christmas Day in 1976, racking up 438 yards of total offense. Quarterback Thomas Lott was one of the stars, capturing the most outstanding offensive player award after guiding OU’s wishbone attack and rushing for 79 yards on 13 carries.

“We wanted to win big so we could play a lot of young people and show the nation just what kind of players we have,” Lott said afterwards.

His coach said Lott was the deserving choice for offensive player of the game.

“Thomas did a very good job executing the option and he deserves the outstanding offensive player trophy,” Switzer remarked after OU’s blowout win.

Oklahoma took the game’s opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 14 plays. OU halfback Elvis Peacock capped that opening scoring drive with a 3-yard touchdown plunge.

On OU’s second offensive series, Oklahoma halfback Horace Ivory ended a 10-play, 53-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to increase the Sooners’ lead to 14-0 with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Oklahoma’s Uwe Von Schamann added a pair of field goals in the second quarter of 32 and 50 yards.

Wyoming opened the second half with a big kickoff return, but the Cowboys’ drive came to an abrupt halt when OU cornerback Terry Peters intercepted Wyoming quarterback Don Clayton. That was Peters’ first interception of two on the day to help him earn the game’s most outstanding defensive player award.

That set the stage for Peacock to shine again. Peacock had a 29-yard run before he finished off the Sooners’ 82-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown scamper. OU fullback George Cumby added a 4-yard touchdown run and then halfback Woody Shepard had Oklahoma’s final points on an 8-yard rush.

Shepard finished with 85 rushing yards on seven carries, while Peacock had 77 yards on eight rushes.

Oklahoma suffocated Wyoming early. The Cowboys had just 22 yards of total offense in the first half. OU intercepted Wyoming five times in the game and forced and recovered another Cowboys’ fumble.

Oklahoma’s 41-7 win over Wyoming represents the first of the Sooners’ five all-time appearances in the Fiesta Bowl.

OU also won the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day of 2011, routing Connecticut 48-20 to end the 2010 season. Quarterback Landry Jones threw for an OU bowl game record 429 passing yards and three touchdowns.

OU wide receiver Ryan Broyles had a big day in that game as well with 13 receptions for 170 yards and a touchdown grab.

Oklahoma has played Wyoming one other time in its history. The Sooners also beat the Cowboys 37-20 in Norman to open up the 1981 season.

Of course, Oklahoma is looking to add to its overall collection of bowl championships in its 55th bowl game appearance. The Sooners could capture their 31st bowl game championship in program history when they play the Oregon Ducks on Dec. 29 in the Valero Alamo Bowl at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN.

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