Kansas State fans got their revenge in 1969


Tuesday, October 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ No matter what happens in Saturday's showdown between No. 2 Kansas State and No. 8 Oklahoma, nothing will thrill Wildcats fans the way they were thrilled in 1969.

At sundown that day, joyous Kansas State people were disbelieving. Back in Oklahoma, people walked around with a glazed look.

People on both sides seemed to be asking: How could this happen?

How could the final score be Kansas State 59, Oklahoma 21?

Lynn Dickey, who still holds Wildcats passing records, steamrolled the proud Sooners on the KSU Stadium field that day. He erased from fans' minds the stench of more than three decades of total dominance by Oklahoma.

``The thing that stands out in my mind was the way everything went right for us,'' said Dickey, who also had an outstanding career in the NFL and is now a businessman in Kansas City.

``No matter what happened, it was the best thing that could happen for us.''

In the press box that day for The Associated Press was Lew Ferguson, who later became the AP's political writer in Topeka.

``Lynn Dickey just obliterated them,'' recalled Ferguson. ``In those years, Oklahoma didn't practice enough against great passers because they didn't see that many. I had the feeling they didn't prepare like they should have for Dickey.''

Until late in the game, Kansas State officials were able to hold their joy in check and hold true to the universal admonition of ``no cheering in the press box.''

But finally, the dam burst.

``The worse it got, the harder it was for them to contain their enthusiasm,'' Ferguson said. ``It finally boiled over. They were openly cheering in the press box.''

Adding to Kansas State's excitement was the feeling that the long-suffering program had finally turned the corner under a new, excitable head coach named Vince Gibson.

Oklahoma actually came into the game a slight favorite. And why not? The Sooners were just two years removed from an Orange Bowl victory over Tennessee. And from 1935 through 1968, Oklahoma had gone 33-0-1 against the team they insultingly called ``the Mildcats.''

For four straight years, beginning in 1948, Kansas State had not even scored against Oklahoma. Between 1948 and 1963, they never scored more than one touchdown in any game against the Sooners.

``Everybody sat there in disbelief,'' said Ferguson. ``Dickey just kept piling it on. It was as stunning as it could be.''

Even Kansas State players were taken aback.

``We had a guy named Bob Long. He was supposed to go down and square out about 15 yards,'' Dickey said. ``Steve Zabel (Oklahoma defensive end) came free on my left side. I threw the ball where I thought Bob would be.

``Sometimes you tend to short-arm it when you do that and that causes the ball to rise. Well, Bob had gotten jammed and ended up having to run upfield for a post.

``And I hit him in dead stride. I thought, `God, I can't believe that happened.' I had overthrown the pass and he had gone deeper than he was supposed to in the pattern. The fans all thought it was perfect execution.''

On another play, Dickey hooked up with his tight end on an improvised touchdown pass they had never even practiced.

``It was just one of those days,'' Dickey said. ``Everything for us was rocking.''

On the field that day for Oklahoma was a hard-running back named Steve Owens, who would win the Heisman Trophy that year.

``We stacked people all up and down the line to stop Owens, and he still ended up getting his 100 yards,'' Dickey said. ``But he got it late in the game when the game was over and we didn't care.''

Ironically, Kansas State would not win another game that year.

The next year, Dickey would lead the Wildcats to a 19-14 victory at Oklahoma. But then the Sooners zoomed back to the top, winning three national championships from 1974-85 and exacting their revenge for the '69 game by clobbering the Wildcats in Manhattan 75-28 in 1971.

Kansas State would not beat Oklahoma again until 1993.

``It's funny how things like that work out,'' Dickey said.

Saturday's game will cap a nostalgic weekend for Dickey and many of his Kansas State teammates.

Gibson, who now runs a travel service, will be inducted into the Kansas State Hall of Fame on Friday night.

``It will be my honor to be my old coach's presenter,'' said Dickey. ``I will be thrilled to do that.''