On the first play of Oklahoma's third drive of the third quarter, Sooners quarterback Blake Bell started limping around after an incomplete pass.
Still trying to shake the cramp out of his leg, Bell took off running on the next play, gaining 11 yards for a first down, then hobbled around some more.
“Dude, are you all right?” Sooners center Gabe Ikard asked.
Bell yelled that he was cramping, then dropped to his back.
After being attended to by trainers, Bell first was helped toward the locker room, then took off in a jog toward the tunnel as the cramp finally worked out.
Bell was given intravenous fluids and returned for the Sooners next drive after Trevor Knight took over to help lead OU to a field goal.
“Coach (Josh) Heupel was so mad, like ‘really, you're cramping?' He said he's never had a cramp,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “Obviously it's something we have to be more aware of moving down the road here.
“Otherwise, we could've gassed him up at halftime. For whatever reason, we didn't.”
BELL, SHEPARD CONNECT
After Bell returned, he went right back to work, completing all three of his passes on the first drive of the fourth quarter — finishing with a 54-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Sterling Shepard.
“I was trying to do that the whole game,” Shepard said. “I knew it was going to come. I just have to be patient. It came. When I caught the ball, I just tried to get into the end zone.”
That seems simple but earlier in the week co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell talked about his players needing to get upfield quickly instead of trying to be too fancy.
The play came out of a double-tight end, one-back formation.
“When you can run the football in those sets, people have to start trickling down from the secondary to stop the run,” Stoops said. “Generally, you can find some space to make big plays.”
Shepard's catch was the longest of his career.
CLAY SHAKEN UP, COUNCELL TOSSED
Sooners running back Brennan Clay was coming across the middle for a third-down pass early in the fourth quarter when, as the ball bounced off Clay's fingertips, he was hit facemask-to-facemask by Irish linebacker Ben Councell.
Councell was flagged for targeting and ejected without a review of the play.
Councell must sit out the first half of next week's game in Arlington, Texas, against Arizona State.
After leaving the game for that series and the next, a quick three-and-out, Clay returned and carried seven times on the Sooners last drive.
POSITIVE RETURN FOR FRANKS
On Notre Dame's first two kickoffs, Trey Franks wasn't on the field — Clay and Roy Finch were the Sooners' deep backs.
But after Finch's two returns resulted in drives that started at the 24 and the 11, Franks was sent in on the return team after George Atkin's 80-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
The switch paid off, as Franks brought the ball back 40 yards to the Oklahoma 48.
The Sooners didn't get a touchdown out of the drive but did kick a field goal to extend the game to two possessions and ate up 4:20 of the clock.
TD REMINISCENT OF 2001
Corey Nelson's 24-yard interception return for a touchdown less than a minute into the game looked plenty like one of the biggest plays of the Stoops era — Teddy Lehman's interception return for a score that sealed the 2001 win over Texas.
Sophomore linebacker Eric Striker played the role of Roy WIlliams, knocking the ball from Tommy Rees' arm and into the hands of Nelson.
“I didn't have any flashbacks of Teddy Lehman and Roy Williams making that play because that ended the game,” Stoops said. “This is in the first quarter; first series. So we knew we had a long journey still ahead of us.”
IRISH BREAK OUT NEW WEAPON
Last season against Notre Dame, Oklahoma had the Belldozer at its disposal.
The Sooners haven't done much of that look this season now that Bell is the starting quarterback.
But for the first time, Notre Dame used a similar package Saturday, using Andrew Hendrix in a zone-read offense at times.
“There was nothing in the Oklahoma package other than we wanted to be a little more diversified, help our third-down package,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.
Hendrix wound up rushing five times for 10 yards and missed on his only pass attempt.
“Fortunately we see it every day with Trevor Knight and Blake Bell,” Stoops said. “We go against each other. Like last week, we go against each other almost every day. S we're pretty used to it.”
The win was Bob Stoops' 153rd, moving him to within four of Barry Switzer for the school record. … Eight different players had receptions for the Sooners. … With his two field goals, Michael Hunnicutt is now 10 of 11 on the season and has made multiple field goals in five consecutive games. … Jordan Phillips had a sack, the first of his career. … Before Saturday, the last time a current Big 12 team beat Notre Dame was in the 1970 Cotton Bowl, when Texas beat the Fighting Irish.