Playing that game did not cost OU at all. Not even the Sugar Bowl berth. Had OU not played Notre Dame, the Irish, Florida, Oregon and Northern Illinois still would have been automatic at-large selections.
In fact, having Notre Dame on the schedule gave the Sooners an opportunity at a national championship.
OU lost to Kansas State in September. But had the Sooners beaten the Irish on Oct. 27, there's a chance OU would have been No. 2 by season's end. Certainly OU would have risen to No. 5 in the BCS the next day.
When Kansas State and Oregon lost on Nov. 17, the Sooners would have been in prime position to ascend. It's likely we would be awaiting an OU-Alabama Big Bowl.
I'm not saying that's fair. I'm saying that's what would have been, all because the Sooners took on, and took out, Notre Dame.
Playing a solid nonconference schedule appears to be a near-requisite for national championship contenders.
In the last dozen years, only one of the 24 teams that have made the national title game played a nonconference schedule void of a name-brand opponent. The lone soldier was Texas 2009, when the Longhorns' toughest foes were Wyoming and Central Florida.
Every other team that made a Big Bowl since 2001 played a nonleague game of substance. Michigan or Penn State or Virginia Tech or Oregon or Arizona or Florida State or Miami or Cincinnati or Washington or TCU or UCLA or Alabama or Texas or Ohio State or Texas Tech or Washington State or Arkansas or Notre Dame or Brigham Young or Florida or Tennessee or Clemson.
Same with Big 12 champs. OU played Alabama in 2002, Oregon in 2004 and 2006, Washington in 2006, Miami in 2007, and Florida State and Cincinnati in 2010. Texas played Ohio State in 2005. OSU played Arizona in '11.
Even ol' Bill Snyder and Kansas State in 2003 (California) and 2012 (Miami) played a name-brand team.
Play a weak schedule if you want to. But don't try to make us believe it's a primrose path to a championship. The opposite is true.
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.