SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Oklahoma’s Blake Bell already is something of a folk hero. But Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III seems to have him confused with Paul Bunyan.
“He’s a big guy, he’s like 6-8 or 340 pounds or something like that,” Nix said. “He’s a huge guy.”
OK, well Bell is actually a 6-6, 254-pound sophomore. But when the Sooners bring in their backup quarterback for their short-yardage jumbo package — the Belldozer, as it’s known — he might as well be a true giant. Bell has scored eight touchdowns in the last four games — including four in the first half against Texas — and scored 13 touchdowns on just 44 carries last season.
Considering the Irish have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season — only the third FBS team since 1996 to be able to say that after seven games — it’s the old immovable object vs. the irresistible force story line. But even Irish coach Brian Kelly concedes that Bell is all but unstoppable in short-yardage situations.
“If it’s first-and-goal from the 5, we’re going to have a hard time keeping them out of the end zone,” Kelly said. “It’s a great short-yardage offense. He’s big, he’s physical, you’re running behind a very good offensive line. So I told our defensive coaches this, if he’s on the field, we’re going to have to do something really extraordinary.”
The Irish defense, of course, feels it’s been doing something really extraordinary all season, and isn’t conceding anything.
“That dude?” outside linebacker Prince Shembo said when asked about Bell. “He’s a big guy, 6-2, 260. I squat 600. So we’re just going to go put our pads on and get ready to meet him in the hole.”
Oklahoma’s ground game — which has helped the Sooners put up an average of 52 points over its last three games — is more than just its backup quarterback, of course. With junior Damien Williams (552 yards, seven touchdowns, 7.5 yards per carry), senior Dominique Whaley (241 yards, 6.3 per carry) and junior Brennan Clay (211 yards, 7.3 perc arry), the Sooners are averaging 200 yards per game.
Notre Dame’s defense, meanwhile, has only allowed three opponents to crack the 100-yard mark.
Golson looking good
Kelly officially named Everett Golson (concussion) the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma game after he had no trouble with a cardio test on Monday, two days after he sat out the BYU win. Kelly said Golson was at “100 percent,” and midway through the week, his teammates agree.
“He’s good,” tackle Zack Martin said. “As far as his concussion, no one recognizes anything going on there. It’s like he never missed a day.”