Storming into Norman: Notre Dame – Oklahoma Preview
As I’m sure you already know the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are heading to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the Sooners. In this trip to Norman the Fighting Irish have something major to play for. That something is a shot at a National Title! I want to remind you that in the season preview for the Irish I had them 7-0 going into this game, don’t believe me check this link. I know a lot of that was love for the Irish but now I look like a modern day Nostradamus. This is without a doubt the stiffest test this Irish team will have faced. It’s not ND’s fault that the Big Ten as a whole has been a pretty major disappointment. The Irish have beaten over hyped Purdue, Michigan State, and Michigan. They’ve also beaten a bad Navy team, a rebuilding Miami, and had nail biters with Stanford and BYU.
This is the measuring stick game for Brian Kelly, not just for his team but for him as a coach. The history of 3rd year coaches at ND and winning National Titles is a pretty nice list, and I’m 100% sure Coach Kelly would love to notch his name next to Rockne, Ara, and Lou. Coach Kelly had explosive offenses at previous stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. This version of Coach Kelly’s offense is still searching for it’s QB and neither Tommy Rees or Everett Golson has shown the ability to grab the job and not let go. If Golson the Red-shirt Freshman is going to take a strangle hold on the job why not pick Saturday night under the bright lights of Norman to do so? I have wanted Golson to have a huge game since week 1 but he has seemed to be determined to take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. As well as he played at MSU is as poor as he played at home against Michigan. If Golson wants a chance to continue to start beyond this season he better start making plays and not turning it over. Lets not forget Gunner Kiel is on the bench and Top 100 dual threat recruit Malike Zaire is on his way.
The Sooners are led by Landry Jones and his 26th ranked passing game and 5th in scoring offense. Jones is no doubt the best QB the Irish will have faced to this point and in turn the ND front 7 is the best Boomer Sooner will have faced. This is shaping up to being an old fashioned great offense vs great defense. Jones however isn’t going to make you pay with his legs if a play breaks down. Landry doesn’t have a positive rushing play all season! Jones who has been playing his position better then almost anybody in the country as of late is brimming with swagger. However as we’ve seen in the past if he is sacked/pressured early he can get happy feet and start forcing bad throws and turnovers usually follow. If the front 7 gets after Landry early and often it will bode well for the young Irish secondary. However, if Jones can sit back and survey the field like a young Bryson Raney he will pick the Irish secondary apart and we will be in for a long, long day!
The Sooner Defense has been playing lights out as of late too. If the Irish can’t run the ball and set up some play action it can be expected that the Irish D will be leaned on to try and win another one for Kelly and company.
Player to Watch:
Blake Bell: Backup QB on paper but really he is a distant love child of Jerome Bettis and William “Refrigerator” Perry. He is almost an ATM inside the 5 yard line. That’s an “automatic touchdown maker.” Oklahoma is the #2 ranked red zone offense, while ND is the #2 ranked red zone defense. So inside the scoring area you imagine the nastiness that will be going on among the fronts of both teams. This could be an old fashioned slug fest, especially inside the 20′s.
I’ve been right when picking the Irish games thus far and I know this is the toughest team to date. That being said I foresee the Irish rolling into Norman and playing another tough game. This game won’t be a beautifully written poem, it will be like a ROUGH draft. It will be rough because both teams are going to slam into each other time after time, after time.
With 1:24 to go in the ball game and Notre Dame trailing 17-12 after 4 Kyle Brindza FG’s and 2 Golson picks the embattled QB will take the Irish down the field and facing 4th down from the Oklahoma 13 yard line Golson will scramble and get outside of the Sooner containment. As the clock continues to tick down Golson will dive head first at the goal line and as the cloud of dust settles in Norman, Everett will be laying with the nose of the ball over the goal line and giving the Irish a 19-17 win in Norman and sending College Football’s Media into a full on frenzy and the bandwagon will continue to add new members!!! Get your seat early though, it’s starting to fill up!