Until this year, I was born and raised a die-hard Sooner fan. Yes, I’ve been there through the thick and thin with the Sooners—at least from the time I was about 6 and really understood football. Both of my parents graduated from OU and we have held season tickets in our family since the beginning of season ticket sales. I am, at my core, a Sooner. Why am I mentioning this? This is a Sooner website… It should be expected, right? Well, there is a slight problem with it. I recently opened a letter labeled with the golden crested monogrammed ND plastered across the front. The document read “Welcome home.” I had been accepted to the University of Notre Dame.
One thing led to another and I decided that there was no chance I could pass up the opportunity to attend the University in South Bend, Indiana. I’m an Irishmen now. I’ve come to realize that Crimson and Cream isn’t the only color scheme that could get me giddy.
I’ve been to seven of Notre Dame’s eight games this year. Yes, I missed the opener in Ireland. Shame on me, but I’ve seen a lot of Irish football in my short two months in the big SB.
The Irish are not the Sooners. The first game I attended was the home “thriller” against Purdue. The Irish beat Purdue by a whopping 3 points… wait for it… on a last second field goal by Kyle Brindza. I looked at my friend from Rhode Island and said, “well, I guess this is what were going to be stuck with for four years.” My friend was ecstatic simply because we won. Being a Sooner I was disappointed in the lack-luster performance. I missed the 52-7 beat downs the Sooners would put on jokes like Kansas.
I travelled to Michigan State, fully expecting to lose. They didn’t. The Irish defense throttled the pathetic Spartans and controlled the whole game.
That’s what the Irish do best. They control the tempo of the game. It’s agonizingly boring to watch when you come from Big 12 land, because not many points are scored and plays take forever to run. I almost forgot what a huddle looked like before I arrived here. However, it has been effective for the Irish. You don’t need to score much when your defense only gives up 9.5 points per game. Yes, Big Ten offenses aren’t prolific, but out of all the undefeated teams ND has had this has to be the toughest schedule to this point. A major argument is that Notre Dame has yet to have a “signature win.” This is potentially true. The Irish haven’t dominated anyone, but they aren’t ever going to.
The styles of the two teams meeting on Saturday are dramatically different. OU likes to put up points with arguably the best offense in the country. Notre Dame likes to limit points with arguably the best defense in the country. A major key to the game is going to be the tempo. If Notre Dame controls it, expect a low scoring and methodical game. If Oklahoma is allowed to control it, well, Everett Golson is going to have to learn how to throw really soon.
If the massive Irish front seven can get to Landry the Irish will stay in this game for a long time. That’s how they are going to win, by causing Landry to have happy feet like K-State was able to do. Stephon Tuitt, who has accumulated 8.5 sacks in the first 7 games, anchors the Irish D-Line. Bennett Jackson will look to throw the talented Sooner receiving corps off of a rhythm. Jackson and Manti Te’o share the team lead with four interceptions apiece. Damien Williams and Dom Whaley need to keep an eye out for Te’o as well. He has the team lead with 69 total tackles and has a tendency to swallow up running backs at the line of scrimmage.
Oklahoma fans seem to think this one is a sure win. I must admit, I would favor Oklahoma in this match up as well, but we neglect to realize that this will be the best defense Oklahoma will see all year. I hate to compare anything to the SEC or give them any credit, but this group of Irishmen is easily comparable to an elite SEC defense. The Irish have a very real shot at beating the Sooners in Norman.
If the Irish snag an upset victory, it isn’t going to be with their offense. Golson has been slightly shaky in his decision-making and carries the football like Mike Vick. Until he missed last game with a concussion he owned all 7 Irish turnovers (3 INTs-4 fumbles lost). I expect Tony Jefferson and Aaron Colvin to have big days.
I had the privilege of meeting Mike Stoops this summer and told him about my situation. I asked him what he thought about this matchup. He responded, “Well, I’m fairly certain we’re going to kill ‘em.” I wouldn’t be so sure about that Mike. The Irish players are just as amped up about this game as the Sooners are. This game is going to be an emotional slugfest.
Two of college football’s heavy weights meeting at a historic venue with national title hopes on the line. I know the nation will be ecstatic to watch this one.
- Eric Woitchek
Notre Dame Class of 2016
Editor’s Note: We can not confirm any comment attributed to Mr. Mike Stoops.