Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma: A 1957-style matchup
COMMENTARY — The Fighting Irish come to Norman on Saturday with a ground-based offense and rugged defense. The Sooners will have to play that style to win the game.
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.
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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.”
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