Notre Dame is ranked No. 5 in the BCS rankings, is sitting pretty with an undefeated record and has the second best scoring-defense in the country. The Oklahoma Sooners are ranked No. 8 in the country, have been inconsistent throughout the year and have suffered a loss on the season.
Looking at that, who would you make the favorite in this week’s Oklahoma-Notre Dame matchup?
If you said the Irish, you are absolutely incorrect.
According to Vegasinsider.com, the Oklahoma Sooners are a double-digit favorite for this weekend’s highly-anticipated matchup. That's right. Not a slight three-point favorite because they are the home team and Notre Dame is playing a first-year starter at quarterback. The Sooners are a 10-point favorite, which should be considered a slap in the face to this program.
Sure, the Irish haven't had the most consistent offense this season, as head coach Brian Kelly has played two different quarterbacks all year long. The overall unit has only scored over 20 points twice in two games and the passing game is ranked 100th in all of college football.
Sure, Oklahoma has an explosive offense that is led by an experienced quarterback in Landry Jones. The team has topped over 40 points in three straight contests and is one of the more balanced units you will find this season.
But the defense of Notre Dame can compete with any other squad you would like to compare it to.
They may not have as many household names on their defense as Alabama, but the defensive side of the ball is the reason the Irish are in the national championship conversation.
The 280 total yards allowed per game is good for sixth in the entire country, which is slightly better than teams such as Florida and South Carolina, and over 20 yards better than Oklahoma.
The team also gets after it on the defensive line with talented linemen such as Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day and Kapron Lewis-Moore generating relentless pressure up front. Jones hasn't handled pressure well throughout his career and with an athletic defensive front, it could be a long day for the senior quarterback.
Notre Dame has only allowed four touchdowns on 19 red-zone attempts and hasn't allowed a single rushing touchdown since the 2011 meeting against Boston College. The Irish happen to be the only college football team in the country that has not allowed a rushing touchdown all season long.
There is also some guy named Manti Te'o, who is considered a Heisman candidate and will use this game to make or break his campaign. And judging by his career performances and the season he has had so far, I really wouldn't expect anything less from the senior linebacker than to put on a show in Norman, OK.
Many of the wins this season for Notre Dame haven't exactly been pretty (in fact, quite a few have been decided by one possession), but the Irish have continued to find ways to win regardless. According to the AP, via CBS Sports, this is what this year’s squad prides themselves on.
"It goes to the toughness of our football team," Kelly said after last week’s victory over BYU. "They believe they are going to win.”
Well, Vegas obviously have yet to believe in Notre Dame.
Maybe the players will continue to feed off the doubters, or maybe they have become numb to it because this team wasn't expected to have gotten this far with the odds stacked against them before the season even started.
The greater the odds, the more glory you receive in overcoming them.
It will be interesting to see if Notre Dame is up to the task once again.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
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