Oklahoma football: Sooners bring big-play ability into an even bigger matchup with Notre Dame

COMMENTARY — A month after a home loss to Kansas State, Oklahoma will play host to Notre Dame next Saturday in a game Bob Stoops says is the Sooners' biggest in Norman since Nebraska in 2000.
by Jenni Carlson Published: October 20, 2012

NORMAN — Most of the Oklahoma fans checked out early Saturday night. Ditto for the Sooner players.

Rest well, Sooner Nation.

The Fighting Irish cometh.

On a night when the outcome was never in doubt — OU 52, Kansas 7 — thoughts turned early and often to the next game. Notre Dame is coming to town, and a clash of traditional powers that loomed large at the beginning of the season is even bigger.

This has national title implications for both squads.

“It's probably the most anticipated game since 2000 when Nebraska was coming in here in the middle of the year ranked No. 1 in the country and we were No. 2 in the country,” Sooner coach Bob Stoops said. “That was a pretty incredible day.”

Was it ever.

The Sooners won a thriller, storming back from an early deficit and winning going away.

The challenge against the Irish will be similarly stout, going against a defense that has allowed only six touchdowns this season and an offense that has always done enough to win.

And yet, the Sooners seem more prepared than ever to handle that.

Why?

The Sooners have some serious big-play abilities.

We'd seen it already this season with Damien Williams, but as we saw Saturday, the Sooner tailback is hardly alone. Trey Millard. Kenny Stills. Justin Brown. Roy Finch.

Those last two guys did something against Kansas that had never before been done in the long and storied history of Oklahoma football. Brown returned a punt for a touchdown, and Finch returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Never had that been done in the same game.

For a bunch that has struggled to get anything in the return games for the past several seasons, this was as monumental as it was historic.

“When you've got guys making plays all over the board,” Sooner safety Tony Jefferson said, “it's just hard on the other team.”

The Sooner defense even got into the act. At the tail end of the first quarter, Tom Wort smashed into a Jayhawk ballcarrier and jarred the ball loose. Casey Walker scooped up the bouncing ball, and the big fellow rumbled 45 yards down the sideline.

He didn't quite make it to the end zone, but he had the Sooner sideline in a frenzy.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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