College Football Game of the Week: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma

Sam SchwartzCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Linebacker Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with teammates in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame refuses to lose. The Irish have been counted out numerous times throughout the entire, season, but have proved all of their doubters wrong time after time.

Their toughest test of the year comes this Saturday, when they travel to Norman to face off with Oklahoma. The Sooners’ only blemish of the year came in a 24-19 loss against Heisman Trophy favorite Collin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats, currently the third ranked team in the BCS standings.

Oklahoma does not allow visitors to take them down at Memorial Stadium. During Bob Stoops’ 12-year tenure as head coach, the Sooners have lost just one non-conference game at home.

The town of Norman lives and breathes for their team. The Irish are probably the best non-Big 12 squad that has come to Norman since 1999 (Bob Stoops’ first year on the sidelines).

The fans will be deafening from start to finish in order to help their team make the most of this rare occasion. They should give Notre Dame’s inconsistent offense a lot of trouble getting into a rhythm, as the Irish will be playing just their second true road game.

As important as home-field advantage can be in college football, it does not decide which team wins. The crowd at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium will certainly give their team a slight edge, but all great teams should be able to fight through a little bit of noise. If Notre Dame is really a contender for the BCS National Championship Game, they should be able to win under all circumstances.

Sloppy play at quarterback can be made up for at home, but is unacceptable on the road. In the Irish’s only game at another team’s home venue this season, a win at Michigan State, Everett Golson threw for 178 yards and a touchdown, but completed less than 50 percent of his passes.

Luckily, Notre Dame’s defense was flawless. That will not always be the case, especially against a Big 12 powerhouse.

If Golson wants to end the quarterback drama in South Bend then he must do what all great QB’s do best; win a big road game. Once he does that, Tommy Rees will no longer be the college football version of Mariano Rivera.

Oklahoma has no quarterback problems whatsoever. Landry Jones decided to make the NFL wait and returned for his senior season at Oklahoma.

While the school’s all-time leader in a number of statistical categories is not putting up Heisman numbers, he has been ultra-efficient. In a blowout win over Kansas last week, Jones compiled a 190.0 QB rating.

The best defense that the Sooners have played this year belongs to Kansas State. Besides the Wildcats’ unit, Oklahoma has played a number of unimpressive defenses. K-State also happens to be the only team the Sooners have lost to this season. That is not Jones’ fault, as he threw nearly 300 yards in the defeat.

Kansas State’s defense could lead them to the national championship, but it is not as good as Notre Dame’s. The Irish have allowed just 9.4 points per game this season, second in the nation to only top-ranked Alabama.

Linebacker Manti Te’o is putting together one of the best defensive seasons in recent memory and is a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy. Notre Dame’s offense has been able to struggle because they have Te’o on the other side of the ball.

Overall, this matchup has the makings of an instant classic. On paper, Oklahoma is clearly the favorite. The Sooners are spectacular at home and play great in all facets of the game.

Their offense can beat you through the air and on the ground, while their defense can stop the best. Notre Dame’s defense is clearly elite, but their offense still has a lot to prove.

The one thing that statistics cannot tell you is which team has played more inspired ball. The Irish seem determined to return to their once unstoppable greatness.

Everett Golson has not played well because he has not needed to thus far. If the Notre Dame defense continues to play like a brick wall, than there is not an offense in the country that will be able to conquer them this season.

This being said, I believe that Notre Dame’s dreams of a national championship will continue for another week. They did not make it this far to let it all slip away from them in a flash. Good teams win games that they are supposed to; great teams win games when they are not.

Oklahoma is a good team, but Notre Dame is great.