Notre Dame Football: Players to Watch in Critical Week 9 Contest vs. Oklahoma

Alex KayCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 13: Manti T'eo #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish encourages the crowd during a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 13, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Stanford 20-13 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The No. 5 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish are taking on the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners in a Week 9 clash for the ages.

Both teams have been nothing short of excellent this year, with the only loss between these two stemming from the Sooners' fall to No. 3 Kansas State back in Week 4.

With so many BCS and Top 25 implications riding on the outcome of this one, it’s as much of a must-see college football game as there will be all year. Let’s take a look at some players to keep an eye on during this epic Saturday thriller.


Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame

The superstar LB has been absolute gold for the Irish in 2012. He’s racked up 69 tackles and four interceptions during his senior year and continues to improve with each passing game.

He’s going to have to be at his best come Saturday, as Oklahoma’s offense is ranked 25th in the nation in passing and 34th in rushing. They have a balanced attack that can beat defenses up no matter what the play call or situation, as evidenced by their 52-7 beat down on Kansas this past week and a 63-21 drubbing of Texas in the Red River Rivalry.

Te’o is the heart and soul of the Irish D, so expect the outcome to be heavily impacted by his performance.


Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

The Sooners signal-caller is having a down year, tossing for just 1,644 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this season. However, he’s managing his turnovers and has just three interceptions in six games.

Considering the Irish possess one of the stoutest defenses in the league—allowing just 9.4 points per game—Jones is going to have to elevate his performance and start taking more risks to make a big play happen.

It’s going to be tough to find any lanes on the ground, so expect the Sooners to trust Jones to air it out.


Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame

The redshirt freshman quarterback didn’t play in ND’s victory over BYU this past week, as he suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of the team’s win over Stanford.

Tommy Rees filled in admirably, going 6-of-7 out of the gate but finishing just 7-of-16 for 117 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

There isn’t a QB controversy in South Bend, and Golson should be back out as the sole starter against the Sooners. However, coach Brian Kelly has seen how his backup can perform and shouldn’t be hesitant to sub him in if things turn sour on Saturday.