Oklahoma Looking to Settle the Score with Notre Dame
Oklahoma is one of four Big 12 teams sitting on a bye week this Saturday, but the Sooners are gearing up for a major non-conference game against Notre Dame next weekend.
It'll be a rematch of last year's 30-13 win by the Irish in Norman, which marked the second home loss of the season for Bob Stoops. To put the significance of that into context: Multiple home losses a year simply don't happen under Stoops.
More than anything, next week's road trip for the Sooners provides an interesting test for new OU starting quarterback Blake Bell. The redshirt junior, who did not start the season but has taken over starting duties while Trevor Knight sits with a knee injury, looked good in Week 3 against Tulsa.
Then again, Tulsa.
Notre Dame's defense hasn't been as awful, but it certainly hasn't been playing at the level it did last year. With a hat tip to our Big 10 blogger Andy Coppens, here's what ESPN Stats & Info had to say about the Irish defense so far this year:
Through three games, the Irish have already allowed 71 points and two rushing touchdowns. Notre Dame was eight games into last season before it had allowed as many points or its first rushing touchdown (Oct. 27 at Oklahoma).
Where will OU need to perform best to beat Notre Dame?
That rushing touchdown, incidentally enough, came from Bell on a short 1-yard run. Overall, though, the Irish did a great job containing Bell and the Sooners' ground game. Against teams not named Purdue this year, though, Notre Dame has been more susceptible to the run.
Conversely, the ground attack has been OU's strength through the first three games with an average of 272 yards per game, and it's really been running backs Brennan Clay and Damien Williams shouldering the load. Bell can run if need be, but he acted as more of a passer against Tulsa.
As long as Knight is out and if the running backs are pulling their weight, I would suspect fewer quarterback runs from Bell. If OU can run the ball well enough, they have a good chance of pulling out a big road win.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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