The No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish earned their most important victory in over a decade, handing the No. 8 Sooners a 30-13 loss at home in Norman Saturday night.
The game was closer than the score indicates, as Notre Dame put up 17 unanswered points to close out the fourth quarter.
While Notre Dame wound up with 30 points, this was a defensive battle, and it is the Irish's defense that deserves the majority of the accolades.
Oklahoma's Landry Jones passed for 351 yards, but the Irish made the plays when they had to and absolutely stuffed the Sooners rushing attack to the tune of 41 yards on 22 carries.
Ultimately, that was the real difference in this game and a big reason why the Irish were able to pull away late, as they wore down the Sooners defense by rushing for 213 yards at 5.6 yards per carry.
NBC's Keith Arnold set the table for Notre Dame before this one started.
Notre Dame is set to begin their most important half of football in 15 years.— Keith Arnold (@KeithArnoldNBC) October 28, 2012
I'm certainly not going to argue with him over that point. This was a huge contest for the program.
As we discussed in the intro, the Irish rush defense was superb, and it looked like (after a penalty negated a rushing score) that they would keep the below-stated stat rolling, as ESPN tweeted.
Notre Dame STILL has not allowed a rushing touchdown this season (Oklahoma has one wiped out due to penalty) #NDvsOU— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 28, 2012
On a later possession, Oklahoma backup QB Blake Bell made a one-yard plunge for a score.
The Notre Dame defense isn't just about stopping the run either. Sportswriter Andrew L. John tweeted out this stat early in the second half.
Notre Dame has not allowed an offensive TD in four of its seven previous games this season. Working on No. 5 tonight.— Andrew L. John (@drewjohn13) October 28, 2012
Again, that streak also met its end, but that does not change the point of how great this defense has been, and it is now becoming unavoidably clear that this is a national-championship-caliber defense.
It is now time to launch into (further) BCS title talk for Notre Dame. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport echoed a sentiment that is most definitely true.
If Notre Dame goes undefeated, it will have a January 7 date for Sun Life Stadium.
Everett Golson: B+
However, he did a fantastic job of limiting mistakes and avoiding turnovers in a very tight contest. He also picked up some key first downs with his feet and finished with 64 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Cierre Wood: C+
Wood burst free for the game's first score with a 62-yard touchdown run, but he did little else.
He finished the game with seven carries for 74 yards and a TD. Oklahoma did a nice job of clogging the middle, which undoubtedly led to Wood's light role.
Manti Te'o: A
Te'o is the heart and soul of the ND defense, and once again he proved why. Te'o did not have the most active day tackles-wise, and the Sooners tried hard to avoid him. Still, he turned in the game's key play.
With Oklahoma in striking distance in the fourth, Te'o intercepted a Landry Jones pass to essentially lock up the contest.
Landry Jones: B-
It was a day of frustration for Jones. The senior quarterback made some nice throws, and he got his yards, but when Oklahoma need plays to either get a key first down or punch the ball in for a score, Jones found very few open receivers and couldn't orchestrate the huge play the Sooners needed.
Jones began to press as his frustrations mounted, which likely played a role in his lone interception. He finished 35-of-51 with 356 yards, no touchdowns and the pick.
Damien Williams: C-
In case you are wondering if Notre Dame's defense is legitimate, I'd suggest asking Oklahoma's Damien Williams. The junior running back came into this game averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
He got the ball for 13 carries this game and gained just 29 yards. This is clearly not all Williams' fault, as he had very few holes to run through.