Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III broke through Oklahoma’s defense early in the third quarter on an 80-yard touchdown run, and Rees found a wide-open Troy Niklas for a 30-yard touchdown pass in the fourth.
On offense, the Sooners struggled in short-yardage situations and in the red zone, converting only five of 14 third downs and scoring a touchdown on just one of four trips inside the Irish 20-yard line.
But on the whole, Saturday’s victory was enormously positive, especially considering the poor taste last year’s game against Notre Dame left in the Sooners’ mouths.
The Irish dominated the fourth quarter last October in a 30-13 win on Owen Field, where the Sooners managed only 15 rushing yards.
This time around, though, it was Oklahoma coming up with clutch plays and impressive efficiency in the second half. The Sooners held possession of the ball for more than 22 minutes after halftime, and OU’s defense forced Notre Dame to punt on its final three series of the game.
“A year ago I thought we lost the game in the last half of the fourth quarter, and we were determined not to let that happen this time because it was still a two-possession game,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.
The Sooners, their 2013 nonconference slate wrapped up, host TCU next Saturday on Owen Field.
“We’ve got a chance to be really good,” Stoops said. “But we’re a work in progress. It’s only our fourth game.”