coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/24/2013 06:34 PM in NCAA Football

Oklahoma Sooners at Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Preview and Pick

Oklahoma Sooners at Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Preview and Pick

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have shown early in the season that they can go toe to toe with some of the best teams in the country. The schedule does not get any easier this week. After an impressive win against the Michigan State Spartans, the Fighting Irish will host the undefeated Oklahoma Sooners who are currently ranked No. 14 in the college football rankings.

Oklahoma Sooners at Notre Dame Fighting Irish Odds

The college football odds for this game opened up with the Sooners listed as (-2.5) point road chalk at South Bend. The betting public does not believe in the Fighting Irish yet and 77 percent of the early wagering is backing the Sooners. Because of the public push of money the betting line has increased and it now can be found as high as (-3) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.

If the Irish hope to beat the Sooners they will need to play solid defense. Notre Dame gave up a regular-season worst 379 yards with 364 coming through the air when they went up against Oklahoma on Oct. 27, but still came away with a 30-13 road victory on its way to the BCS title game. That defense has been anything but consistent.

They held the Spartans to 254 yards last week, but they allowed an average of 372.0 yards over the previous three. The Sooners and head coach Bob Stoops will look to take advantage and put up big points behind Blake Bell who is off to a very hot start.

The college football betting trends for this game favor the Irish at home against the top ranked Sooners. The Sooners are 2-8 against the spread (ATS) in their last 10 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game, 1-4 ATS when they go up against a team with a winning record and 2-6 ATS when they are coming off a straight up win. The Fighting Irish are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating less than 275 total yards in their previous game, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games when playing a team with a winning road record.

Oklahoma Sooners at Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/25/2013 03:47 PM

Oklahoma-Notre Dame week arrives, right on schedule for the Sooners. It's time we found just what kind of ball team OU has. We'll know by sundown Saturday.

But OU-Notre Dame arrives just when all of college football needs it, too, after the week that was.

The fourth week of 2013 was defined by a lack of marquee matchups — Stanford-Arizona State was the primo game. But such scheduling disappointments happen. What stained Saturday were the continued immorality plays.

Like in Columbus, where Ohio State led Florida A&M 55-0 at halftime, en route to a 76-0 victory.

Like in Miami Gardens, where Miami beat Savannah State 77-7 in a game shortened to 12 fourth-quarter minutes by mutual consent of the coaches.

This is no specific indictment of the Buckeyes and Hurricanes. Heck, we know all about FAMU and Savannah State. Last September, OU beat Florida A&M 69-13 and OSU famously beat the Savannahs 84-0.

College football is in a bad way to be sanctioning such games. ESPN shows the highlights like they were some kind of legitimate competition. Networks televise the farcical affairs.

There's no such absurdity in South Bend, this or most any other Saturday. Notre Dame doesn't schedule I-AA opponents. The Irish go only so far down the food chain. Navy, Tulsa, Nevada. That's about it. Teams that still can beat you on a given Saturday.

Both the Sooners and the Fighting Irish seek to play games that exhalt the sport. Notre Dame is just one in a long line of series the Sooners have scheduled against fellow traditional powers. Florida State, Miami, Oregon, Alabama in recent years, Tennessee, Ohio State, LSU and Nebraska in future years.

And this game is for more than show. Just like last year, Notre Dame avails the Sooners a chance at a national statement. Victory over the Irish a year ago would have put OU back in the national title hunt. Victory over the Irish on Saturday will do the same.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/25/2013 03:48 PM

Brian Kelly might have inadvertently left Greg Bryant out of the running back rotation when he said Sunday that Notre Dame was rotating four men in the backfield. But the Irish coach said Tuesday that the highly-touted freshmen still factors into the running game moving forward.

"We just got to four. I'd like to get to five," Kelly said. "Greg certainly has a skill set that we just haven't gotten into the game yet. But again, we're trying to get him in on special teams. He's on kickoff right now. We're trying to get him involved in some of the other running teams. But we got to four, we're trying to get to five."

Notre Dame's run-game struggles have been no secret this season, as the Irish have not eclipsed the 100-yard mark as a team since the opener against Temple. Bryant received two of his three carries on the season late in that game, tallying 12 yards. He then rushed gronce in the first quarter against Purdue for two yards, and received no carries in the Irish's second and fourth games.

The four-star recruit from Delray Beach, Fla., was ESPN's No. 2 running back prospect last season, and he had initially committed to the school he will face this week, Oklahoma.

"It's about scripting five and trying to get five into the game more than anything else," Kelly said of the 5-foot-10, 204-pound Bryant. "We have him scripted into certain plays, it's just really the flow of the game and the circumstances in trying to get him in."

Fellow Florida freshman back Tarean Folston, ESPN's No. 6 player at the position last season, received three straight carries during one drive Saturday against Michigan State, tallying nine yards. He has nine carries on the season for 26 yards, to go with a nine-yard catch.

All five running backs are listed as co-starters on this week's depth chart. Cam McDaniel's 45 carries for 169 yards both lead the team, with much of his work coming in late-game situations with the Irish trying to run the clock out. McDaniel received Notre Dame's final 12 carries Saturday.

George Atkinson III, the front-runner for the No. 1 spot heading into the season, has 24 carries for 121 yards, trailing Amir Carlisle's 33 carries for 157 yards.

Notre Dame is averaging just 114.3 rushing yards per game, 99th in the nation. Its offensive line, however, has surrendered just three sacks on the season.

"There are so many factors to that," Kelly said of the difference in pass- and run-blocking. "They're blocking the five guys that they're supposed to block pretty good. There are times when obviously we need to be better at it. We have to block seven and eight, and we've got to get better at that. But they're doing a great job in pass protection. We need to do a much better job as a unit, as a whole, and that's not just the offensive line, that's everybody, coaches and tight ends included, in blocking the whole play."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/25/2013 03:49 PM

A Top 25 showdown is on tap in South Bend this weekend, as the 14th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners come calling on the 22nd- ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Bob Stoops' Sooners are seeking their 10th 4-0 start under his watchful eye after opening the season with wins over ULM (34-0), West Virginia (16-7) and most recently, Tulsa (51-20). Oklahoma had last weekend off, giving it extra time to prepare for the Irish, who invaded Norman last year and embarrassed the Sooners 30-13, en route to a perfect regular season.

Brian Kelly's Irish are in a different position this time around, as a perfect season has already been dashed with a week two loss at Michigan (41-30). Notre Dame has bounced back however, moving to 3-1 on the year with back-to-back hard-earned victories over Purdue (31-24) and Michigan State (17-13).

Stoops recognizes the Irish are a different squad from last year, but not in every area.

"Their schemes are all the same," Stoops said. "They've got good athletes and are well disciplined in everything that they do. So I see them very similar, you know watching them, as they were a year ago."

With last year's road win, Notre Dame has now won eight of the nine total meetings between these two teams

Oklahoma has returned to a balanced attack on the offensive side of the football. The team is generating just under 500 yards per game, gaining large chunks of real estate on the ground (271.7 ypg) and enough through the air (218.7 ypg) to keep opposing defenses honest. Finishing drives in the end zone has proved to be a little more difficult however, as OU is 15-of-17 in red zone opportunities, with only nine resulting in touchdowns.

Both redshirt freshman Trevor Knight (205 yards passing, four TDs) and redshirt junior Blake Bell (451 yards passing, four TDs) have seen time under center, thanks to an injury to Knight against West Virginia. Bell was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week against Tulsa, throwing for 413 yards and four TDs. Knight is listed as questionable for this game. Regardless of who is under center, Sterling Shepard (11 catches, 146 yards, two TDs) and Jalen Saunders (10 catches, 137 yards, three TDs) are the top aerial targets.

The ground game has its own potent one-two punch in the form of Brennan Clay (5.8 ypc, 87.3 ypg, two TDs) and Damien Williams (4.4 ypc, 80.5 ypg), with Knight (7.2 ypc, 72.5 ypg) adding another dimension to the run game from under center.

Early returns would suggest that Oklahoma has shored up some of its defensive problems from a year ago. The team currently ranked fourth in the country in scoring defense, yielding a mere 9.0 ppg. The Sooners are giving up just 291.3 yards of total offense per game, including holding foes to just 190.7 yards passing. In addition, opponents have converted just 27 percent of the time on third down and have reached the red zone a mere six times through two games, scoring just two touchdowns.

Leading the charge is linebacker Corey Nelson, who has posted a team-high 20 tackles, with 3.0 TFL and one sack. Safety Gabe Lynn has been the most opportunistic defender for Oklahoma. He has just five tackles in the first three games, but is responsible for two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

The offensive numbers for Notre Dame aren't exactly eye-popping, numbers that certainly took a hit with a sub par performance against one of the nation's best defensive units last week in Michigan State. Still, when all was said and done, veteran quarterback Tommy Rees led the Irish to victory.

Last season it was a strong ground game that fueled the Irish on offense, but this year it is a passing attack led by Rees that accounts for 280.0 yards per game. The senior has completed 56 percent of his passes, for 1,111 yards and eight touchdowns thus far. His top two targets have been TJ Jones (21 catches, 304 yards, two TDs) and DaVaris Daniels (20 catches, 305 yards, four TDs).

The rushing attack has struggled at times and is currently netting a modest 114.2 yards per game. However, tailbacks Cam McDaniel (3.8 ypc), Amir Carlisle (4.8 ypc) and George Atkinson III (5.0 ypc) give the team a deep backfield.

The Notre Dame defense was the driving force behind last year's run to the BCS National Championship Game. Part of the success came from a unit that forced turnovers and held opponents out of the end zone. This year, the Irish have forced just five turnovers and recorded just four sacks in the first four games.

Although All-American Manti Te'o is no longer on the team, there is plenty of star power throughout. All-American end Stephon Tuitt (10 tackles, 2.0 sacks) and nose tackle Louis Nix III (14 tackles) headline the play up front. Jarrett Grace (team-high 28 tackles), Dan Fox (27 tackles, 3.0 TFL) and Carlo Calabrese (26 tackles, 4.0 TFL) make up an active linebacking corps, while All-American candidate Bennett Jackson (24 tackles, one interception) and Matthias Farley (15 tackles, one interception) are the players to watch in the secondary.

Kelly knows the key to this game is his defense's ability to stop the big play.

"We have to minimize the big chunk plays, and that's one of our goals each and every week: Minimizing those big chunk plays. We were able to do that last year. We're going to have to do it this year if we want to win the football games."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/26/2013 12:47 PM

Almost a year ago, the buzz surrounding the undefeated Fighting Irish was just starting to build after the historic institution had begun the season with understandably tempered expectations. Despite their 11 consensus national titles and reputation as a storied football factory, Notre Dame hadn’t played for it all since their 1989 Fiesta Bowl-win over West Virginia, leaving many Irish fans hesitant to dream of a return trip to gridiron greatness.

While we obviously weren’t aware of Notre Dame’s upcoming undefeated season at that point, the Irish had formed an identity as a tough defensive team with a multi-faceted offense, capable of at least competing with some of the nation’s top programs.

One year later, the 22nd-ranked Irish (3-1) head into a matchup with 15th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (3-0) this Saturday in South Bend, hoping to come away with a win worthy of keeping their bowl-game hopes alive.

Losing key ingredients to last year’s (12-1) team such as quarterback Everett Golson, tight end Tyler Eifert, running back Cierre Wood, and linebacker Manti T’eo to name just a few, Notre Dame is a much less experienced team with a mediocre defense, disappointing ground-game, and an offense that has a habit of disappearing. Despite these concerns, the Irish were ranked as high as 12th in several preseason polls, placing unreal expectations on this year’s squad.

Fortunately for the Irish, when Golson was unexpectedly suspended for the fall semester due to “poor academic judgment,” the team was able to hand the ball to senior Tommy Rees, an experienced pivot who has been given one final shot under center for the “Golden Domers.” Familiar with the offense, Rees has thrown for 1,111 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions this season, while reestablishing himself as Notre Dame’s on-field leader.

Hosting Temple in their first game of 2013, the Irish played well, winning 28-6 with the help of a season-high 188 total rushing yards and a strong defensive performance that limited the Owls to just six points. While many consider the win over Temple to be Notre Dame’s best performance so far this season, it’s difficult to gauge the overall potential of this team unless they’re facing a more formidable opponent.

In their second contest of the season, Notre Dame would get the opportunity to challenge a top-15 power when they traveled to Michigan to face the Wolverines for their annual installment of what has become a heated rivalry. Forced to leave Ann Arbor with their only defeat so far this season, Notre Dame looked unimpressively average during their 41-30 loss at Michigan on September 7th.

Other than the one loss to the Wolverines, Notre Dame has yet to face any other top-25 programs yet this year, making a win over the 14th-ranked Sooners this weekend essential to their plans for a return trip to the postseason.

Recent wins over Big 10 opponents such as Purdue (31-24) and Michigan State (17-13) definitely won’t hurt, but if the Irish hope to be playing for anything of consequence beyond the regular season, victories over the bigger programs on their schedule such as Arizona State, USC, and BYU, are a must as well.

Going forward, it all starts this weekend against Oklahoma. If the Irish can replicate last season’s performance in Norman, Notre Dame’s regular season finale at Stanford, who is currently a top-five program, will be the final obstacle standing between them and a return to football beyond the fall.

But it won’t be easy this weekend against the visiting Sooners, who have allowed only 27 points this season and own the 16th-ranked rushing attack in the country with 271 yards per game. Averaging over 33 points per contest, Oklahoma has defeated the University of Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia, and the University of Tulsa, and will be playing their first road game of 2013 on Saturday afternoon in South Bend.

For the Irish, a loss on Saturday would more than likely bring their BCS aspirations to an abrupt halt. Even with a victory, Notre Dame will be hard-pressed to come anywhere near their 2012 performance, yet there are those who still believe this team to be capable of some great things in 2013.

Considering their current situation however, a win on Saturday may say more about this team then we learn during the remainder of their 12-game schedule, unfortunately, not all learning experiences are positive.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/26/2013 12:49 PM

Go ahead and play man-to-man defense against his squad, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly dares. He believes he has the weapons both under center and in the receiving game to create an advantage.

This is no startling revelation to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who is preparing to have his players defend plenty of Tommy Rees pass attempts as his No. 14 Sooners visit the 22nd-ranked Fighting Irish on Saturday.

Kelly contends it is his priority to have a successful running game, but Rees has been called upon to throw the ball plenty this season, especially when defenses are playing man to man. Notre Dame (3-1) faced tight coverage all day in last week's 17-13 win over Michigan State as Rees went 14 of 34 for 142 yards and a touchdown.

The senior has averaged 39.3 attempts over the Irish's last three games and has a 138.1 passer rating that's 53rd in the nation. Four of his eight touchdown throws have gone to DaVaris Daniels with another two to TJ Jones, who caught a scoring pass last week.

Daniels has 20 catches for 305 yards, while Jones has caught 21 balls for 304.

"If (opponents) think that they can prevent us from throwing the ball over their heads, then we may see (man-to-man defense) again. If they don't, they'll play more zone and give us an opportunity to run the football," Kelly said. "Teams will have to decide how they want to play us. But they know what we're going to do if they play man to man."

Stoops is among the informed, and he said the Sooners (3-0) will have to pick their battles defensively. Notre Dame benefited from multiple pass interference calls that extended drives last week while taking advantage of the physical Michigan State defensive backs.

"They're going to put it up in every game a good number of times," Stoops said. "(Rees) throws an excellent ball, and they have confidence in their receivers going up and getting it. That's definitely something we're aware of and something we need to be able to defend."

Kelly has continued to stress the importance of the running game after it was held to a season-low 78 yards last week, marking the first time since 2008 that Notre Dame has been under 100 on the ground in three straight contests.

Cam McDaniel, Amir Carlisle and George Atkinson each have received at least 24 carries on the season.

"I think in the run game, we need to continue to evolve," Kelly said. "We're getting so many different looks where at times we have to be able to identify different backers, who to work to."

The Irish also are searching for consistency on defense. They held the Spartans to 254 yards last week, but they allowed an average of 372.0 yards over the previous three.

"Who is going to show up now is really going to be what we're asking," Kelly said. "Are we going to see the group that showed itself against Michigan State consistently, or the group that we saw the last couple weeks that played hot and cold?"

Notre Dame gave up a regular-season worst 379 yards - 364 through the air - against Oklahoma on Oct. 27, but still came away with a 30-13 road victory on its way to the BCS title game.

The Sooners are averaging 490.3 yards this season, and they're hoping Blake Bell can stay hot after he went 27 of 37 for 413 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start, a 51-20 victory over Tulsa on Sept. 14.

Bell, who has taken over for ineffective redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, had 24 rushing touchdowns over his first two seasons while primarily being used in short-yardage situations, but Stoops is confident Bell will be poised heading into a tough environment in South Bend.

"He's a great competitor. He's been in a lot of critical, important situations, and he's handled them well,'' Stoops said. "He's not like a true first-time guy out there playing, because for the last few years, he's been in a lot of big games in those kinds of situations where it matters."

Bell scored his team's lone touchdown against Notre Dame last season on a 1-yard run, but the Irish shut down Oklahoma on the ground. The Sooners finished with 24 carries for 15 yards, the program's second-worst rushing day in a decade.

Oklahoma will be making its first visit to Notre Dame Stadium since a 34-30 loss Oct. 2, 1999. It is 1-9 all-time against the Irish, with its only victory coming in 1956

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/27/2013 09:39 AM

Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin will step on the Notre Dame Stadium turf with a complete understanding of the tradition that surrounds him.

“It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.

The Sooners are just days away from taking on Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday, their toughest nonconference road test since traveling to Florida State in 2011.

“[Notre Dame] has some of the same vibes because this is a really good team,” Colvin said. “It’s a traditional school and they’ve got a lot of history there. We know that the crowd is going to be hostile, much like Florida State was.”

OU prevailed on that night, leaving Doak Campbell Stadium with a 23-13 win over Florida State on Sept. 17, 2011. It was a tough, gritty win in a hostile environment. Exactly the type of win OU hopes to earn on Saturday.

How did they do it? OU opened the game with a plan to establish the run early and create balance on offense. The Sooners turned to their ground attack nine times during a 15-play touchdown drive to open the game, essentially taking the Florida State crowd out of it and grabbing momentum.

It’s an offensive game plan the Sooners would like to repeat. With quarterback Blake Bell making his first road start, OU will want to establish the run, ensure offensive balance and lean on its defense. But the Sooners face a tall task against a Fighting Irish defense that allowed just 15 rushing yards to the Sooners in Notre Dame’s 30-13 win last season.

“It’s a big test for us across the board for our five guys up front,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “We need to be efficient running the football.”

First-down success will be critical. The Sooners ended up in too many third-and-long situations in their loss to the Irish a year ago, thanks to their 0.6 yard-per-carry average on 13 first-down carries. Being stuffed on first down helped contribute to OU's converting just 4 of 14 third-down conversion attempts.

“They try to get you behind the eight ball by not allowing you success on first down, which puts you in third-and-long situations,” co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “We have to do a good job of making efficient plays on first down, whether it’s running or throwing.”

The Sooners have expressed plenty of confidence in Bell despite it being his first road start, pointing to his game experience as the "Belldozer" in short-yardage situations during the past two seasons.

“I expect Blake [Bell] to handle himself in a great way,” Heupel said. “He’s been in a tough environment in big games and in critical situations on the road. Because of his experience he’s had, I expect him to handle it extremely well.”

But Bell didn’t see the field in Tallahassee, Fla., in 2011, making this the most hostile nonconference road environment he has played in during his career and an environment the Sooners simply can’t simulate in practice.

If Bell struggles -- or, quite possibly, even if he doesn’t -- the Sooners will probably have to lean on their defense. It worked against FSU in 2011, as the Sooners' defense beat up the Seminoles’ offense, even knocking quarterback E.J. Manuel out of the game while holding FSU to 246 total yards and 4.1 yards per play.

If OU’s defense shows up in a similar way on Saturday, it will likely take the crowd out of the game and increase its chances of having a joyous plane flight back to Oklahoma. If it doesn't, the crowd will get rowdy and the environment will get even more hostile, making life that much harder on Bell.

“You have to play good defense,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “You can’t give up big plays, you have to be able to keep the crowd out of the game, and that’s what Notre Dame did to us a year ago. We couldn’t get any momentum throughout the course of that game.”

The Irish’s victory in Norman could be considered the blueprint in many ways. Notre Dame made key plays -- on the ground and through the air -- on offense, dominated defensively and won the competitive plays when it mattered in the fourth quarter.

While OU has cruised to a 3-0 mark this season, plenty of questions remain, and the Sooners’ first road game of the season will answer questions even Heupel has about his offense.

“How are we going to play in a tough environment when things don’t go well?” he said. “How are we going to respond? Are we going to do the little things you have to do to win on the road in a tough environment and be a championship-type football team? We’ll find out a lot of that this weekend.”

If those questions are answered positively, OU could surge into the national title conversation, setting itself up as a dark-horse candidate, particularly if it looks impressive while securing a win over the Irish. If those questions are answered negatively, the Big 12 could become even more wide open than it already is.

“It’s an important road test to win in a tough environment where there’s been a lot of history and not a lot of teams have won,” Norvell said. “It would be a real notch for our football team to go up there, play well and get a win in that environment.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/27/2013 09:42 AM

Oklahoma has never shied away from playing college football’s preeminent programs. And against every one of those programs, the Sooners have held their own.

Every program but the one the Sooners will face Saturday.

All-time, Oklahoma owns more wins than losses against Texas since the 1940s; is 45-38-3 against Nebraska; and holds a winning or even mark against the likes of Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and Tennessee.

No program, however, has gotten the better of the Sooners like Notre Dame, which is 9-1 in the series.

Not only did the Fighting Irish end Oklahoma’s famed 47-game winning streak in 1957, they were the last to defeat the Sooners before the streak began.

And not only did Notre Dame beat Bob Stoops in his first season with the Sooners, the Irish knocked Oklahoma out of the national title conversation for good last season with a 30-13 win in Norman.

Luck of the Irish or something else?

“It’s pretty simple to me,” said legendary Sooners head coach Barry Switzer, who only faced Notre Dame as an offensive coordinator.

“We’ve always caught them at the wrong time.”

Timing has rarely favored the Sooners when it’s come to beating Notre Dame.

Oklahoma faced the Irish four times in the '60s, just between the Bud Wilkinson and Switzer eras. Notre Dame also caught the Sooners twice before the Wilkinson dynasty had fully formed.

Then again, timing hasn’t always been the issue.

Oklahoma was a heavy favorite last season.

And an even heavier favorite in 1957.

The impetus for the series dates back to Wilkinson’s friendship with Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy. Under Leahy, the Irish had won four national championships during the 1940s to solidify their status as college football’s predominant program.

Wilkinson, who took over in 1947, wanted a benchmark for his program. So he scheduled Leahy and the Irish.

In 1952, the budding Sooners played the Irish tough in their first ever meeting, falling 27-21 in South Bend. Oklahoma gave Notre Dame another scare the following year, but lost again 28-21 in Norman.

By then, however, Wilkinson had built the Sooners into a powerhouse on equal footing with the Irish. And that would be the last game Oklahoma would lose to anyone for a long time. In 1956, the Sooners routed Heisman winner Paul Hornung and Notre Dame 40-0 in South Bend on the way to a third national title.

That, however, remains Oklahoma’s lone victory in the series.

The following year, the Sooners ran their winning streak up to 47 games heading into a rematch with the unranked Irish, who had gone 2-8 the previous season.

“We had been winning handily, had a great team,” said Bill Krisher, an All-American guard for the Sooners in 1957. “When you win that many in a row, you can become a little complacent. And we were the team they really wanted to beat, no matter what.”

The Sooners did come out complacent. And in the final minutes, Notre Dame halfback Dick Lynch took a pitch, followed fullback Nick Pietrosante’s block and on fourth-and-goal from the Oklahoma 3-yard line broke a scoreless tie with the game-winning touchdown.

The Irish have been dominating the series ever since.

“They really have been the spoiler for us,” Krisher said. “Those are just the facts.”

The Irish spoiled the Sooners’ season in 1966, as well. In Switzer’s first year as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, the Sooners were unbeaten and coming off their first win over Texas in eight years.

But Notre Dame, ranked No. 1, crushed Oklahoma in Norman 38-0 -- a beating the Sooners never recovered from, as they fell into a tailspin the rest of the season.

“We weren’t as talented,” Switzer said. “They were the better team.”

Two years later in South Bend, Notre Dame again dominated the Sooners, who were still in rebuilding mode.

“Most of the time, they’ve had great teams when we’ve played them,” said Ken Mendenhall, an All-American center for the Sooners in the late 1960s. “And when we’ve had great teams, we haven’t played them.”

Indeed, Switzer led the Sooners to national titles in 1974, '75 and '85 but never once faced the Irish as a head coach.

The series was renewed in 1999. But again, Oklahoma was rebuilding in Stoops’ first year. The Sooners actually led in South Bend in the second half, but Notre Dame rallied and won 34-30.

“If they had played two years later, you think Notre Dame would have still won?” Mendenhall said. “Look at Switzer’s great teams. Had Notre Dame been scheduled during those years, OU would have hung half a hundred on them.”

The timing, however, seemed to be right last year. The Sooners, buoyed by a stomping of Texas, soared into their ESPN "College GameDay" showdown in Norman with Notre Dame as better-than-touchdown favorites.

Instead, Notre Dame controlled the line of scrimmage, then once again won the fourth quarter to win the game.

“I thought for sure we’d get that one,” said Krisher, who was in the stands. “But we didn’t. The luck of the Irish beat us again.”

The Sooners have another chance this weekend to conquer the luck of the Irish. And overcome the one program they haven't been able to yet.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/28/2013 09:17 AM

Pick: Irish +3

Shop around for this line, because you may find a 3.5 out there but you won't need it. The Irish defense has struggled to come together so far but they match up well in this spot. The Sooners are 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record as they have trouble against talented teams, especially on the road.