NORMAN — Bob Stoops' home invincibility vs. ranked foes was shattered during this, his 14th season as Oklahoma's football coach.
Kansas State left Norman with a 24-19 win Sept. 22, making the Wildcats the first ranked visitor to best Stoops' Sooners inside Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
No. 5 Notre Dame will try to be the second Saturday, when the unbeaten Irish meet No. 8 Oklahoma at 7 p.m.
The Wildcats won over a month ago because they pressured OU quarterback Landry Jones, forced turnovers and were opportunistic offensively.
Can the Irish adhere to the Kansas State blueprint for Owen Field success?
“I would imagine everybody that's seen that film will try to emulate it,” said OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. “That's kind of the way it happens when you play and somebody has success against you, you see a lot of the same stuff.”
Notre Dame is tough along the defensive line, has shown a propensity for takeaways and features an offense capable of doing just enough to eek out close wins.
“I think they've been good at (the same things as Kansas State),” said senior fullback Trey Millard. “We lost to a team that did that. Shortened the game, kinda ran the ball on us. We made the turnovers that they needed to get enough points. We know we can't make the same mistakes in this game, or it'll be the same result.”
One stark difference between Notre Dame and Kansas State, of course, is at the game's most important position. Notre Dame has been inconsistent at quarterback, relying on a combination of usual starter Everett Golson and Tommy Rees.
Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein, meanwhile, is the Heisman Trophy frontrunner after leading his team to wins in both Norman and, last week, Morgantown, W.Va., where K-State routed former Big 12 favorite West Virginia.
“No ... Collin Klein is an outstanding quarterback, dual threat quarterback, extremely accurate throwing the football, and he's just a very patient runner,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said when asked if he noticed anything about Kansas State that makes the Sooners less effective.
But Klein wasn't his usual self against the Sooners. He was 13 of 21 for 154 yards, and rushed for 84 yards in the Oklahoma win. Kansas State's offense was effectively limited until the fourth quarter.
A Jones interception gave K-State the ball on OU's 38-yard line, and the Wildcats took advantage of the short field to score their first offensive touchdown of the game early in the fourth.
On their next possession, the Wildcats converted a key third-and-12 with a 26-yard pass that kept a touchdown drive alive; that score put the game virtually out of reach.
“There are a lot of similar characteristics,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said of Notre Dame and Kansas State.
“They're disciplined, very well coached, and very physical. Those patterns and similarities are consistent with a lot of great teams.”
The Wildcats' 10 first-half points were all scored because of Oklahoma turnovers. Jones, under pressure and with no receivers open, abandoned the pocket, was hit from behind and fumbled into OU's end zone, where the ball was recovered for a Wildcats' touchdown.
OU took its next drive all the way to Kansas State's 5-yard line before Blake Bell fumbled a shotgun snap. Kansas State recovered and increased their lead to 10-3 after the ensuing drive ended with a field goal.
In its three games since that loss, though, Oklahoma has only turned the ball over once. That sort of offensive polish will be vital against an Irish defense that enters Saturday with 17 takeaways.
The OU defense, with one takeaway through the first three games, has nine during the current three-game tear.
“In big games like this, you've gotta protect the ball,” Norvell said. “Ball security is key and it'll be the difference again Saturday I'm sure. We've gotta do a great job of not turning it over, and not giving them a short field.
“That was our biggest problem in the Kansas State game. ... Our defense is doing a good job of creating turnovers in the last three games, and we've done a good job of protecting it.”