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Oklahoma Vs. Notre Dame Preview

Notre Dame and Oklahoma are two of the most storied college football programs in the country.  Together, they have 18 National Championships, 12 Heisman trophy winners and are top ten in all-time wins.  Today, these college football giants will clash in South Bend and it should be one of the best games of the week.

Last year in Week 8, these two teams met in Norman, which was supposed to be the start of Oklahoma’s run to a BCS game.  They were 5-1 with a front heavy schedule, and they were planning on running the table to get a shot to play for the Crystal Ball.  They had the experienced quarterback with weapons around him, along with a defense that was allowing less than 20 points per game in the Big 12.  Even though Notre Dame came into the game 7-0, they were coming off two games (Stanford and BYU) that they barely won at home.  Both wins came down to the last play of the game.  People were writing Notre Dame off saying they had no chance and one of their biggest haters was Vegas.  The Fighting Irish came into the game as an 11.5 point underdog even though they were ranked higher and undefeated.  Even though all signs pointed to an Oklahoma win, Notre Dame came out and dominated in every way.  They ran the ball for over 200 yards and three touchdowns while Oklahoma could only muster a pathetic 19 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown.  Even though Oklahoma moved the ball through the air with 356 passing yards, they could not find the end zone and simply could not keep up with the Irish.  Notre Dame achieved their biggest victory of the year and finished the regular season off at a perfect 12-0.

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The game this year has a very similar feeling to their last meeting.  Oklahoma comes in at 3-0 and Sooner fans believe they can win the wide open Big 12 with the strong play of Blake Bell.  The Sooners came into this season with questions at the quarterback position.  Landry Jones graduated last year and junior backup Blake “The Belldozer” Bell was suppose to step in, but Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops shocked the college football world and announced that redshirt freshman Trevor Knight would start week one.  Knight started the first two week, but after a knee injury and poor production, Bell got his chance to shine and he did.  In his first start, he threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns.  The Sooners now know who their quarterback is and are ready for their first test of the season.  They get to travel to a hostile environment in a game that Notre Dame fans have circled since the schedule came out.  Earlier this week, The Leprechaun Legion, which is the voice of the Notre Dame student section, came out and urged all the fans to wear green.  In short this means Notre Dame as a whole is fired up for this game, but no matter how much the 12th man is in it, the players have to come out and perform.  Notre Dame has looked anything but impressive in their first four games.  Aside from Temple in Week One, the Irish have looked bad.  Last game, they escaped a win against Michigan State that had many controversial pass interference plays that could’ve changed the outcome of the game.  They were so bad, the kicker and punter, Kyle Brindza, received the game ball even though he missed a field goal and had a punt blocked! This isn’t a promising sign for Irish fans but there are some positives to take out of last week.  Stephon Tuitt who was a Preseason All-American, was horrible in his first three games recording only four tackles and one sack.  However, the catalyst of the defense had a great game against Michigan State recording six tackles and a timely fourth quarter sack.  If he can regain his sophomore form, Tuitt and the rest of the defense can gain some momentum and shut down the Sooners.

Photo Credit: MICHAEL CONROY/AP

Both teams have a lot to prove but I think history repeats itself and Notre Dame will win this game.  The key to the game is running the ball for both offenses and even though Oklahoma has done a great job this year stopping the run, they haven’t seen an offense like the Irish.  They have All-American talent on the line and last week, Cam McDaniels showed he is a hard downhill runner who can tire out a defense.  Expect McDaniels to have a big game against the Sooners.  On the other side of the ball, I am still not buying Blake Bell as a passer.  He feasted on a Tulsa team who was clearly outmatched.  However Bell will get help from RB Damien Williams who is his itching for a breakout game after violating team rules. This will be a great test and perhaps future indication against an Irish defense which many believe is a top ten defense. Those believers should be proven right as Notre Dame will showcase their talent forcing the Irish faithful to celebrate Saturday night.

-Barry

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