NORMAN — Notre Dame came to Owen Field in 1957 and won a football game 7-0. Perhaps you've heard.
The Fighting Irish are back in town on Saturday night, armed with the same mission. Win a game 1957 style.
Run the ball. Pass only if you have to. Don't mind punting. Make the other team punt.
That largely describes these Renaissance Fighting Irish, who bless Oklahoma by coming to town with more than a magic name and that glorious fight song and the haunting memories of Norman Conquests past.
Notre Dame is 7-0 and ranked fifth nationally and that, coupled with the eighth-ranked Sooners, makes this the game of the week in college football.
“They run the ball effectively,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “They want to wear on you. They want to force the run game at you. Then try to hit some passes down the field.
“They play a very physical style of play. It's been a good formula for them.”
No kidding. The Irish have been winning with 1957-type scores: 20-17 over Purdue, 20-3 over Michigan State, 13-6 over Michigan, 20-13 over Stanford, 17-14 over Brigham Young.
Notre Dame threw 19 passes against Michigan. Threw 17 against BYU.
That's leather-helmet football. And here's the scary part. It's also the kind of football Kansas State played on Owen Field five Saturdays ago. The Wildcats threw just 21 passes and beat the Sooners 24-19.
“Little of the Kansas State philosophy,” Mike Stoops said. “Keep explosive offenses off the field. Don't let them have rhythm.”
Of course, the Sooners lost to K-State because of three killer turnovers, two on the 1-yard lines, a 14-point swing that was too much to overcome against a stellar squadron.
“Our No. 1 goal for the last several weeks has been, you gotta protect the football,” said OU center Gabe Ikard. “If we don't turn it over, with the way our defense is playing, we're going to have a great chance to win games.”
Notre Dame's front seven on defense is stout, led by middle linebacker Manti Te'o. The Irish pass defense is suspect, particularly since Notre Dame hasn't played an offense close to the aerial explosiveness of the Sooners'.
But that doesn't mean Landry Jones should air it out. He threw 36 passes at Texas-El Paso, 43 against K-State, 40 at Texas Tech and 37 against Texas.
Don't expect Landry to throw that many times against Notre Dame. The Sooners want to run the ball, and even if the Irish stand strong — they haven't allowed a rushing touchdown all season — a punt is not a bad thing.
Not in this game. Fifty years ago, when Notre Dame ended OU's 47-game winning streak, the Irish punted eight times and the Sooners 10. A punt was not considered abject failure back then. Heck, a third-down quick kick was in every team's playbook and used often.
Might be the same way Saturday night. Get two stiff defenses together, which is danged hard to do in this day and age, and the game could turn on a turnover.
Why subject Landry to that fierce Irish pass rush, which could create havoc? OU has the better offense. Don't waste that advantage with turnovers.
Play it safe, Sooners, and you should win, even if it's 1957 style.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.