Place: Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma
Two of the most storied programs in college football will square off Saturday when No. 7 Oklahoma hosts fifth-ranked and undefeated Notre Dame.
While each school has a past that is the envy of any program, the stakes are plenty high in the present with Notre Dame sitting at No. 5 and the Sooners at No. 8 in the BCS standings.Oklahoma has bounced back with a vengeance from its lone loss to Kansas State, rolling up 156 points in lopsided victories over Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas, but it will be facing a defense that ranks second nationally in points allowed at 9.4 per game.
The Fighting Irish, who had gone more than a month without surrendering an offensive touchdown before allowing two in last week’s 17-14 win over Brigham Young, are seeking their first 8-0 start since 2002.
Notre Dame is 8-1 all-time against the Sooners, including a historic 7-0 win at Oklahoma in 1957 that snapped an NCAA-record 47-game winning streak.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-0): Linebacker Manti Te’o is the leader of the Fighting Irish’s lock-down defense, earning mention as a contender for the Heisman Trophy. Four of the Fighting Irish’s wins have been by seven points or fewer, but the offense should get a boost with the return of starting quarterback Everett Golson, who missed the BYU game due to a concussion suffered in an overtime win over Stanford on Oct. 13.
Golson had thrown for 141 yards and a TD and run for 41 yards before he was injured. Notre Dame leaned on the running game against BYU, getting a career-high 143 yards from Theo Riddick and 114 from Cierre Wood. Still, the Irish’s hopes rest on their defense, which is ranked sixth nationally with 280.7 yards allowed and has yet to give up a rushing TD.
Oklahoma Sooners(5-1): The Sooners have raised their game since losing to unbeaten Kansas State on Sept. 22. Oklahoma put up 41 points at Texas Tech before trampling archrival Texas 63-21 and crushing Kansas 52-7 last week. Quarterback Landry Jones has thrown for 880 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception during the three-game win streak.
Running back Damien Williams has three 100-yard games, including a career-high 167 yards against Texas, and backup quarterback Blake Bell has rushed for eight TDs in four games. Kenny Stills leads the receiving corps with 38 catches and four TDs. DT Stacy McGee returns to the lineup after missing six games due to suspension.
1. This will mark the second true road game for Notre Dame, which beat Navy in Ireland and Purdue at Chicago.
2. Oklahoma has never lost two home games in one season since Bob Stoops took over the program in 1999.
3. The last meeting between the schools came in 1999, when host Notre Dame prevailed 34-30 to hand Stoops his first loss with the Sooners.