Staff Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma
| Thursday, October 25, 2012
Allan Joseph: Editor-in-Chief
When the best teams clash in the biggest games under the brightest lights, the simplest things tend to determine the outcome. Defense. Turnovers. Special teams. Mental mistakes. Penalties. Tackling. The list goes on – but the point is, fundamentals matter.
The Sooners are incredibly skilled. Their passing game is a bona fide juggernaut, their defense is stout and they’ll have an amped-up Memorial Stadium on their side. But their offensive line is young, and their rush defense has shown vulnerability. In the end, though, this game will be won in its waning minutes by the team that makes fewer mistakes and has a stronger will to win. It’s going to be epic, and it’s going to be remembered for a long time. Especially since the Irish are going to pull it off.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Oklahoma 21
Andrew Owens: Managing Editor
Notre Dame has two factors in its favor heading into Saturday’s top-10 clash with Oklahoma. The Sooner rush defense ranks 46th in the country – lowest among top-10 teams – and Oklahoma’s turnover margin ranks 43rd. If the Irish can force turnovers, protect the football and establish the running game early in Norman, they have a chance.
I just don’t see those three stars aligning this weekend for the No. 5 Irish. Notre Dame should compete in any game because of its elite defense, but the stagnant offense will finally catch up to Brian Kelly’s squad.
The Irish run defense will hold running back Damien Williams in check, but this will be the week Notre Dame’s secondary makes a couple costly miscues in a Sooner victory.
FINAL SCORE: Oklahoma 23, Notre Dame 10
Chris Allen: Sports Editor
Over a month has passed since, but this sure feels a lot like Michigan State week. Yet again, the Irish head on the road to a top-10 opponent fresh off an ugly home win against an inferior team. Yet again, for many of the same reasons, few think the Irish will win. But on the field in East Lansing, this team showed that there was quite a bit more to the story. There is more to the story this week, too.
Against an Oklahoma offensive line that has endured an up-and-down season – against tame Big 12 defenses – Bob Diaco will unleash his playbook and let the likes of Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo free. Landry Jones and Oklahoma got punched in the mouth by Kansas State and backed down. The Irish are built like the Wildcats and may do the same.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Oklahoma 21
Andrew Gastelum: Associate Sports Editor
For Notre Dame, this is the gauge game: The game that will determine whether this Notre Dame team is for real or just plain lucky.
The key to this game will be controlling possession, meaning the Irish must run the ball effectively and hold onto it. Nothing would be better for Everett Golson on the road than to hand the ball off on almost every single play rather than feel the pressure of having to try to do everything himself.
On the road, the Irish cannot settle for field goal attempts. To win this one, they have to take advantage of their scoring opportunities because the defense will be occupied with Landry Jones and the prolific Oklahoma offense.
But somehow and someway, they will, just like they have done all season long.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Oklahoma 23
Matthew DeFranks: Associate Sports Editor
Let’s look at the stats. Oklahoma’s scoring offense is fifth in the country and is averaging 52 points per game in their last three contests.
Now let’s check out the other side of the story. The Sooners’ biggest wins are over Texas and Texas Tech while they lost to the only elite team they faced - Kansas State. In the win, the Wildcats rushed for 213 yards against Oklahoma while forcing three Sooner turnovers. Can the Irish do that? Of course.
But the question is will they? Everett Golson and the three Notre Dame running backs should be able to carve out some space in the Oklahoma defense and the Irish front seven could cause problems for Landry Jones.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 16, Oklahoma 14