Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma Analysis: Fighting Irish's Win Doesn't Validate National Title Hopes

  on

Nice win for Notre Dame, but let’s not get too carried away.

Oklahoma is given more unwarranted cachet than Donald Trump. Seriously, why are either relevant at all anymore?

Ranked eighth coming into the contest, the Sooners’ main claim to fame was demolishing a Texas squad that couldn’t tackle your mom’s mother. Oklahoma can rack up some points, play a somewhat entertaining, uptempo offense and usually have tons of talent on defense. It also has Bob Stoops in all his smarmy, disdainful glory.

But, really, when were the Sooners last truly worthy of being considered legit contenders in the national-title hunt. They won in 2000, got embarrassed in two title games after that, and, though BCS bowl regulars, they ain’t exactly having anyone quaking in their cleats. Well, save for the Longhorns … and maybe the oddsmakers in Vegas.

The Irish, heavy underdogs despite being ranked three spots higher, escaped Norman, Okla., Saturday night with a 30-13 victory that was closer than the score would indicate, but it was a solid effort against a decent foe. It just wasn’t worthy of increasing ND’s image at the moment.

Ah, but it will. With No. 2 Florida going down, the Irish are sure to move up, and they should have little trouble maintaining a spot in the hierarchy – at least until the season finale at Southern Cal.

Linebacker Manti Te’o should be prepping for a Heisman appearance right about then. He may not win, but he should be among the finalists now after posting 11 tackles, a sack and the game-clinching interception against Oklahoma with a national TV audience watching.

It’s just odd to see the Irish in such a spot, because they don’t wow opponents in any way. It’s almost like they dull teams to death. No doubt they have guys step up when called upon, though – as Tommy Rees did in converting a third-and-8 pass attempt for 11 yards on the last play of the third quarter against the Sooners, filling in for an injured Everett Golston with, maybe, oh, 2-3 warm-up tosses before entering the game in front of a record Owen Field crowd of 86,031.

Then again, this was against Oklahoma … and, really, should succeeding against the Sooners really be considered that big a deal anymore?

QUICK HITTERS

- Awful knee injury to South Carolina star RB Marcus Lattimore – eerily similar to the one that ended the career of Pro Bowl FB Leonard Weaver. Though the latter hasn’t officially retired, his playing days are over, and most likely Lattimore’s are, too. Even with medical advancements, the complete destruction of that joint in Lattimore’s right leg while being tackled was so sickeningly severe.

- Tough call on best individual efforts this week, but you’d be hard-pressed to top Southern Cal WR Marqise Lee (16 catches, 345 yards, 2 TDs; 3 KO returns for 123 yards) in a 39-36 loss at Arizona or Georgia LB Jarvis Jones (13 tackles, 3 sacks, game-clinching forced fumble) in a 17-9 win against No. 2 Florida.

- Temple went from posting its first back-to-back Big East victories in separate stints with the conference to earlier this month to getting blown out the last two weeks. QB Chris Coyer will be the fall guy, but the inept offense really is on stubborn, conservative head coach Steve Addazio and coordinator Ryan Day.

- Ironically, a week after waffling Temple, No. 15 Rutgers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday, as Gary Nova was intercepted six times by Kent State in a 35-23 loss in Piscataway, N.J. Interesting to note that Jersey native and former Rutgers assistant Darrell Hazell is the Golden Flashes head coach.

- Not so sure that No. 3 Kansas State’s blowout of Texas Tech is as much of a confirmation of the Wildcats being serious title contenders or an indictment of Tech. The Red Raiders have shown a penchant for winning one big game early, and then getting smoked in others later. The pattern has held in 2012.

- Looks like N.C. State may want to work on tightening up the defense (and special teams) early and late. The Wolfpack surrendered 25 points at North Carolina in the first quarter and 18 in the fourth … and nothing in between. The end result was a 43-35 loss.