Facing their biggest test of the season, the Notre Dame Fight Irish meet the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday afternoon at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
The No. 5 Irish and their second best defense in the country have won their last two games by an average margin of five points, and outlasted Brigham Young 17-14 last week in what many viewed as a trap game.
Running back Theo Riddick rushed for a career-high 143 yards and Cierre Wood gained 114 yards against the third ranked Cougars rush defense. Notre Dame tallied 270 rushing yards on the day, but had only one rushing touchdown, and it didn’t come until the fourth quarter.
BYU led 14-10 at half time, but quarterback Tommy Rees shook off an early interception and guided Notre dame to the go-ahead two-yard touchdown run by George Atkinson III with 12:52 remaining in the game, and the sixth ranked Irish defense did the rest.
Attkinson did make the trip to Norman due to flu-like symptoms, leaving Wood and Riddick to carry the load.
Notre Dame’s defense will have to be in top form against the Sooners, who are fifth in the nation in points scored with 44.7 per contest.
Sooners’ senior quarterback Landry Jones may have found his groove with 300 yards and three touchdowns, and Roy Finch returned the second half kick-off 100 yards as Oklahoma dismantled Kansas 52-7.
Receiver Justin Brown also returned a punt 90 yards, as Oklahoma raced out to a 52-0 lead, only surrendering a touchdown with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter.
The Sooners have outscored their last three opponents 156-48, but need Kansas State to fall for a chance at the Big-12 championship.
Notre Dame has won eight of the nine games between the schools, and the Irish haven’t traveled to Oklahoma since 1966.
The trend may continue, as the Sooners are allowing 138 rushing yards per game this year.
The contest begins at 8 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast ABC.
Prediction: All of Notre Dame’s chances for a BCS title rest on this game, and Oklahoma can also remain in the picture by blowing out the Irish. Notre Dame will need to rush as well as they have, and Rees must avoid turnovers, otherwise Oklahoma will walk away with the victory.
Betting Odds: Oklahoma is favored by 13 points
Over/Under: 48 points
Predicted Score: Oklahoma 30, Notre Dame 14