Notre Dame's ability to run the football with success Saturday allowed it to pick up key first downs through the air in its 30-13 win at Oklahoma.
The running success also bred what was possibly the Irish's most important play of the night — a 50-yard play-action pass from Everett Golson to Chris Brown in the fourth quarter that set up the final go-ahead touchdown.
“Anytime somebody can run the football, your secondary has to start biting down on the run, and they can go over the top,” said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “That's kind of what happened in the fourth quarter. That was disappointing.”
The Irish picked up a total of 18 first downs Saturday; eleven of them were on passes.
“I thought they made some plays; we didn't have great calls on a couple of them, and that's our fault from a staff position, and putting them in a little bit better position to make some plays,” Stoops said. “Just struggled with the rhythm of the game and a lot of that is credited to (Golson) and their ability to run the football better than anybody we really have faced.”
BELL: OU HAD ‘SAME MENTALITY AS EVERY OTHER GAME'
Blake Bell didn't feel unstoppable.
But Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said the key to not allowing Oklahoma's Belldozer package to be successful was simply to stop Bell.
Notre Dame hadn't allowed a single rushing touchdown all season, but with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of the game — the Irish failed to stop Bell.
Like every game that came before Saturday's, Sooners fans watched as the Belldozer went through each of his reads to find his opening before plowing into the end zone.
“We just went in with the same mentality as every other game,” Bell said. “Do what we can do. Get the ball in the end zone or get the first down in our package.”
Junior linebacker Tom Wort, on the rest of the season after Saturday's loss:
“This team is not going to fold. I haven't seen our team fold at all. With the rest of the games left, whenever we've had a loss, we've come back stronger. It's really disappointing that we lost, but in no way is this team going to quit.”