The Oklahoma Sooners beat the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, 35-21, for their first win over Notre Dame in 57 years.
56 years ago, OU had the longest winning streak in the history of college football and Notre Dame beat them 7-0 to break the streak. In five games since, OU has never been able to get revenge. They had a chance in Bob Stoops’ first year in Norman, but after taking a big lead, Notre Dame roared back and won. Then, last season, the Irish came to Norman and beat the Sooners in their house.
Now, finally, the Oklahoma Sooners have beaten Notre Dame and shook that monkey from off their back.
The win was by 14 points, and when you consider how the game started, it was the defense that won this game for OU. On the first drive of the game, Irish quarterback Tommy Rees backed up to pass and was hit by a blitzing Eric Striker. The ball popped out and landed right into Corey Nelson’s hands, where he returned it for a 24 yard touchdown.
On the very next Notre Dame drive, Rees threw his second interception of the game, this one to Frank Shannon. The Sooners turned that into a solid drive that ended with a Damien Williams touchdown run to put OU up 14-0 in just over two minutes.
It looked like OU was setting up a blow out.
However, Notre Dame came back and drove the length of the field and Rees threw a touchdown pass to TJ Jones to close the score to 14-7.
The second quarter was slowed down drastically, with both teams running the ball, and the clock, down. The only score came after the Sooners’ Julian Wilson picked off another Rees’ pass, his third of the game. This one was turned into a drive that ended in a Blake Bell to Lacolton Bester 26-yard touchdown pass to let OU take the halftime lead, 21-7.
Rees threw three interceptions in the game, all resulting in Sooners’ touchdowns. However, the game was not over and Notre Dame was not going to give up.
Notre Dame opened the third quarter by stopping the Sooners and forcing a punt. On the first Notre Dame offensive play of the second half, George Atkinson III broke loose for an 80-yard touchdown run to put the game within a touchdown, at 21-14.
The Sooners drove the length of the field twice in the third, but failed to score a touchdown on either drive, settling for two field goals, to put OU up 27-14.
The second scoring drive was scary, as Blake Bell went down with an apparent injury. Trevor Knight came in and did little outside of one big run, before Bell returned in the fourth quarter. It was cramps for Bell, and after an IV, he was able to finish the game.
However, before he could get back into the game, Notre Dame drove down for another touchdown, this one a Rees touchdown pass to Troy Niklas on a 30-yard strike to bring the Irish to within six, 27-21. Rees finished the game only completing 9-of-24 passes for 104 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, which was nowhere near enough to beat the Sooners.
Bell, who finished the game 22-of-30 for 232 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers, threw his second touchdown on the next drive, a 54 yards catch and run by Sterling Shepard. Bell and Shepard hooked up for a 2-point conversion after that play, to make the score 35-21 and that was the final points of the game.
While the announcers were talking about Bell’s lack of accuracy, he once again completed over 70-percent of his passes and continues to look like the quarterback that the Sooners will need to lead them to a championship in 2013.
By the end, OU outgained Notre Dame 450-324 in total yards, with 220 of Notre Dame’s yards coming on the ground, led by Atkinson’s 148 yards. However, 80 of those came on one run, so it was another case of the Sooners defense doing just what they needed to do to win the game.
While winning the national title is still just a dream for the Sooners, an Oklahoma State Cowboys loss today made the Big 12 title a reality and this year might prove to be more than the rebuilding year that many fans assumed it would be. Regardless of how it all ends, Oklahoma beat Notre Dame for the first time in 57 years and that is something that fans won’t forget for a very long time.