1987 Orange Bowl
53rd Orange Bowl
1234 Total
Arkansas 0008 8
Oklahoma 0141414 42
DateJanuary 1, 1987
StadiumOrange Bowl
LocationMiami, Florida
MVPSpencer Tillman (Oklahoma HB)
Dante Jones       (Oklahoma LB)
FavoriteOklahoma by 17 points[1]
RefereePaul Schmitt (Independent)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersDon Criqui, Bob Trumpy,
and Paul Maguire
Orange Bowl
 < 1986  1988

The 1987 Orange Bowl was the 53rd edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, January 1. Part of the 1986–87 bowl game season, it matched the ninth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks of the Southwest Conference (SWC) and the #3 Oklahoma Sooners of the Big Eight Conference.[2] Heavily-favored Oklahoma won 42–8.[3][4][5]


Main article: 1986 NCAA Division I-A football season


Main article: 1986 Arkansas Razorbacks football team

The Razorbacks lost twice, to Texas Tech and Baylor. This was Arkansas' first Orange Bowl appearance in nine years; that 1978 game was a 31–6 upset rout of Oklahoma.


Main article: 1986 Oklahoma Sooners football team

The Sooners won the Big Eight Conference title for the third straight year and appeared in a third consecutive Orange Bowl.[2] Only a 28–16 loss at Miami in late September cost them a shot at a second straight title. Standout linebacker Brian Bosworth was suspended for this game after testing positive for steroids.[6]

Game summary

The game followed the Rose Bowl on NBC, and kicked off around 8:30 p.m. EST;[2] it was the sole game in that time slot, as the Sugar Bowl was played earlier in the day on ABC.

Following a scoreless first quarter, Spencer Tillman gave Oklahoma the lead in the second quarter with two touchdown runs, the latter occurring after an Arkansas turnover, and it was 14–0 at halftime. Quarterback Jamelle Holieway added his own two touchdown runs to make it 28–0 after three quarters. Arkansas threw five interceptions, as Anthony Stafford and Duncan Parham added touchdown runs of their own to make it 42–0 for Oklahoma. In the final half-minute, Arkansas scored on a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Derrick Thomas (and a two-point conversion) to avoid a shutout.[3][4][7]


First quarter
No scoring
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter


Statistics Arkansas Oklahoma
First Downs 17 11
Rushes–yards 45–48 48–366
Passing yards 192 47
Passes (C–A–I) 16–33–5 2–5–0
Total Offense 78–240 53–413
Return yards 18 58
Punts–average 9–41 5–47
Fumbles–lost 2–0 3–2
Turnovers 5 2
Penalties–yards 3–25 4–40
Time of possession 35:29 24:31


While on the sidelines, Bosworth displayed a shirt referring to the NCAA as "National Communists Against Athletes." After this game, he was dismissed from the team, and later declared himself eligible for the NFL supplemental draft in June, where he was selected by the Seattle Seahawks.[8][9]

In the final AP poll, Oklahoma remained at third and Arkansas fell to fifteenth.[10][11]

Oklahoma returned to the Orange Bowl the next year for a fourth consecutive appearance, but through 2024, Arkansas has not been back.

The Sooners and Razorbacks next met in the Cotton Bowl following the 2001 season, with Oklahoma winning 10-3. By that time, Arkansas was a member of the Southeastern Conference and Oklahoma a member of the Big 12; the Southwest Conference ceased to exist after the 1995 football season, with four members joining the Big 8 schools to form the Big 12.

In 2024, Oklahoma and Arkansas will be in the same conference for the first time since 1924 when the Sooners join the SEC. However, the teams are not scheduled to play in 2024 or 2025.


  1. ^ "The latest line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 1, 1987. p. 38.
  2. ^ a b c "Today's bowl games: Orange". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). January 1, 1987. p. 5B.
  3. ^ a b c d "Switzer gets revenge, Sooners get the win". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 2, 1987. p. 3B.
  4. ^ a b c d "Oklahoma romps over Arkansas, 42-8, in Orange crush". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 2, 1987. p. 16.
  5. ^ "Sooners claim they're No. 1 after bowl rout". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. January 2, 1987. p. D1.
  6. ^ "Bosworth makes memorable Orange Bowl appearance". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 2, 1987. p. 16.
  7. ^ "The 1980s | Orange Bowl".
  8. ^ "Bosworth threatens to skip season after being drafted by Seahawks". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. June 13, 1987. p. 14.
  9. ^ Richmond, Peter (June 13, 1987). "Maybe he'll swap for missiles". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Knight-Ridder. p. B2.
  10. ^ "Final AP college football poll". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. January 4, 1987. p. D4.
  11. ^ "It's official - Penn St. claims national championship". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. January 4, 1987. p. 1B.