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So we have ourselves a ballgame on Saturday night. The #5 Irish come into Norman as a 12 point dog to the #8 Sooners. Before the season, I had this game written as a loss without a doubt. Then again, before the season I expected to have at least one, if not 2 losses by now en route to an 8 win year at best. As always, I’m dumb. I’ve never been happier to be wrong than I have with this Irish team so far.
That said, I still think ND should lose this game. Can we win? Sure, of course we can, and I think we’ve got a great shot at it. But I’ll get into that in a bit. The fact of the matter is ND is heading to a prime time showdown in a tough environment to face a team that just so happens to have their strengths match our weaknesses. Landry Jones is an experienced QB who has finally gotten on track with his WR corps as the season has progressed to lead an option averaging nearly 45 points a game. The Sooners have the 7th best scoring O in the land and the 22nd best passing attack. It’s also worth noting that the Sooners have only lost 4 games at home since 99….That’s insane. Though 2 of those have been in the last 6 games, that’s still an amazing stat under Stoops.
This is going to be what a secondary comprised of converted WRs and duct tape has to go against. Don’t get me wrong, the secondary has performed well to this point, but they’ve barely been tested yet. Navy, MSU, and BYU all relied on the run, Stanford was very run heavy and then just used Tight Ends, Denard Robinson couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, and Miami thankfully doesn’t have anyone that can catch. I do want to give this group credit, they’ve played great all year when everyone expected them to be papier mache, but this will be the biggest test they’ve seen, and it could get ugly.
While everyone has focused on the OU O, it’s also worth mentioning that this will be the best Defense the Irish have faced this year as well. The Sooners have the 12th best scoring D in the country. Lord knows the Irish O has plenty of problems scoring on their own, but going against a unit that is averaging only about 15 points given up a game…that’s gonna be tough.
So do I think we lose? Yeah, we should. I think it will be close, I think we definitely cover, but if I had to bet my life on the winner I’d say OU. Alllllllll that said, I think ND can win by doing exactly what Kansas State did. I’d put ND’s front 7 up against anyone in the country, Bama included. If there is one thing we have seen throughout Landry Jones’ career, it’s that he will fold to pressure. If he gets hit in the mouth a couple of times, the game changes. His accuracy drops, he makes bad decisions, and he starts to second guess himself. While our secondary may be ripe for ownage in this game, if ND gets to Landry the way they’ve been able to get to QBs this year, that advantage can be negated very quickly.
ND surely has not been an offensive juggernaut this year, but they’ve made incredible strides in their running game the last few weeks. KSt also showed how susceptible OU’s defense is to mobile QBs and counters/misdirection plays, both things ND has up their sleeves. I think Notre Dame will be able to move the ball on OU, and just has to be conscious of taking care of the ball. Turnovers will lose this game. Here’s hoping the Irish stay hungry for the ball like they have been all year. If ND can get pressure on Jones early and often, force a few TOs, and take care of the ball, they can take this game.
All I know, it should be a fun one. Go Irish!
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