Oklahoma-Notre Dame week arrives, right on schedule for the Sooners. It's time we found just what kind of ball team OU has. We'll know by sundown Saturday.
But OU-Notre Dame arrives just when all of college football needs it, too, after the week that was.
The fourth week of 2013 was defined by a lack of marquee matchups — Stanford-Arizona State was the primo game. But such scheduling disappointments happen. What stained Saturday were the continued immorality plays.
Like in Columbus, where Ohio State led Florida A&M 55-0 at halftime, en route to a 76-0 victory.
Like in Miami Gardens, where Miami beat Savannah State 77-7 in a game shortened to 12 fourth-quarter minutes by mutual consent of the coaches.
This is no specific indictment of the Buckeyes and Hurricanes. Heck, we know all about FAMU and Savannah State. Last September, OU beat Florida A&M 69-13 and OSU famously beat the Savannahs 84-0.
College football is in a bad way to be sanctioning such games. ESPN shows the highlights like they were some kind of legitimate competition. Networks televise the farcical affairs.
There's no such absurdity in South Bend, this or most any other Saturday. Notre Dame doesn't schedule I-AA opponents. The Irish go only so far down the food chain. Navy, Tulsa, Nevada. That's about it. Teams that still can beat you on a given Saturday.
Both the Sooners and the Fighting Irish seek to play games that exhalt the sport. Notre Dame is just one in a long line of series the Sooners have scheduled against fellow traditional powers. Florida State, Miami, Oregon, Alabama in recent years, Tennessee, Ohio State, LSU and Nebraska in future years.
And this game is for more than show. Just like last year, Notre Dame avails the Sooners a chance at a national statement. Victory over the Irish a year ago would have put OU back in the national title hunt. Victory over the Irish on Saturday will do the same.
With the Big 12's obvious floundering, the Sooners will have few chances to make America take notice. But winning in the shadow of the Golden Dome will make up for weeks of playing Kansas and Iowa State.
Notre Dame, too, would be fortified by victory. The Irish, like the Sooners a year ago, enter this game with a defeat. Win, and Notre Dame keeps the status to which it returned in 2012, when the Irish played Alabama in the Big Bowl.
The stakes are high. The risks are not. Bob Stoops likes to say that voters haven't always rewarded those who dare to play a strong schedule. He's wrong about that. College football voters have consistently rewarded those who play a strong schedule.
Games like Notre Dame have not kept the Sooners from national championship opportunities. Games like Notre Dame have helped place the Sooners in such games. Amid much debate, the BCS granted OU a berth in the 2003, 2004 and 2008 title games, primarily because of tougher nonconference opponents than those also in contention.
The Sooners have been rewarded for playing games that America wants to see. Games that enhance the sport rather than shame the sport. Games like we're going to see in South Bend. Games that college football needs in the worst of ways.
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.