Orange Bowl

Game of the Week: Week 9

 
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Irish linebacker Manti Te'o looks to cool the red-hot Sooners in Norman.
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Ryan Trapp | Staff Writer
OrangeBowl.org

This week’s Game of the Week features two of the most historic programs in college football: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Oklahoma Sooners. It would be hard to find two programs playing at a higher level of football right now, and this week’s contest should be a thriller between two of football’s elite.

Notre Dame has ridden their stellar defense to the top of college football. The Fighting Irish are second in the nation in scoring defense, have allowed fewer touchdowns (six) than any other school in the nation, haven’t allowed a single rushing touchdown all season long and have done it all behind the play of senior linebacker and team leader Manti Te’o. Te’o’s has been phenomenal all season long, and his performance places him in legitimate contention for the Heisman. He’s tied for fourth in the nation with four interceptions, and leads the team with 69 tackles, seven passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. Defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo have done their share of work as well, harassing opposing quarterbacks all season long. The two have combined for 10.5 sacks and 16 hurries on the season. On offense, their ground game has been strong enough to grind out games and pick up wins.  Five players have surpassed over the century rushing mark rushing on the season, and three different backs have recorded at least two starts. Leading the way is senior Theo Roddick, who has 451 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Not far behind him is Cierre Wood, who’s ran for over 100 yards in two of his last three games. Freshman quarterback Everett Golson got the night off last week to recover from a concussion in the Irish’s win over Stanford, but should be good to go for the game

The week four loss to Kansas State turned Oklahoma into a completely different team. In the three games since, the Sooners have rolled through their Big 12 competition, putting up 52 points and 487 yards of offense a game. Senior quarterback Landry Jones leads the balanced Sooner attack, and is coming off his best start of the season where he threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-7 win over Kansas. But even when Jones isn’t at his best, Oklahoma has a full complement of backs to throw at opposing defenses. The Sooner ground game has ran for nearly 1,200 and 20 touchdowns this season, led by junior Damien Williams who has 552 yards and seven touchdowns on the year, averaging 7.5 yards a carry. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has the Sooner defense playing at a much higher level this season, ranking 12th in the nation in scoring defense. In all, Oklahoma brings one of college football’s most balanced teams to the field each week.

Oklahoma might be hotter than any other team in college football, but history favors Notre Dame heavily. It’s the first time since 1966 that the Fighting Irish will visit Norman, and Notre Dame is 8-1 all-time against the Sooners. In fact, of all the teams to play the Oklahoma more than five times, Notre Dame is one of just four schools to have a winning record over the Sooners (along with Miami, USC and Texas). In four of those nine meetings, both schools were ranked among the top 10 in college football. Notre Dame won all four times.  

 

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