Oklahoma’s balanced attack presents challenge to Notre Dame
BY LaMOND POPE Staff Reporter September 27, 2013 10:22PM
NO. 14 OKLAHOMA
AT NO. 22 NOTRE DAME
The facts: 2:30 p.m., Ch. 5, 890-AM.
The records: ND 3-1, Oklahoma 3-0.
The line: Notre Dame by 31⁄2.
Updated: October 29, 2013 6:14AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Oklahoma had a bye last Saturday, so coach Bob Stoops spent a portion of his time watching the Notre Dame-Michigan State game.
He thought this Irish team resembled the one that went to Norman and beat the Sooners 30-13 last season.
“They are a very similar team, as far as the way they like to play on offense and defense. Their schemes are all the same,” Stoops said. “They’ve got good athletes and are well-disciplined in everything that they do. I see a very similar [team], watching them, as they were a year ago.”
The traditional powers meet again Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
If No. 22 Notre Dame (3-1) wants a similar result, the Irish will have to find a way to slow down the No. 14 Sooners’ balanced offense.
Oklahoma (3-0) averages 271.7 yards rushing and 218.7 passing.
Running backs Brennan Clay and Damien Williams average 87.3 and 80.5 rushing yards, respectively. Clay has a team-leading 262 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. According to reports, Williams (161 rushing yards) served a one-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules against Tulsa. He is expected to play Saturday.
Notre Dame is 28th in rushing defense (114.3 yards per game). In last year’s game, Oklahoma had 15 rushing yards on 24 carries.
The Sooners found success through the air against Tulsa. Quarterback Blake Bell, also a threat with his legs, passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns in the first start of his career.
“We know our opponent. We know their strengths, and we know the things that we have to improve on,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “Our guys are very aware of our weaknesses and what we have to improve on to win this game. But I will say this, they’re confident.
“They know that they can beat Oklahoma, but they’re going to have to play mistake-free. We’re going to have to be fundamentally-sound defensively and all the basic tenets that go with playing championship football will have to be on display.”