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Oklahoma football: Gabe Ikard will have his hands full on Saturday

Blocking Notre Dame's Louis Nix III will be the Sooner center's biggest challenge.
by Ryan Aber Published: September 24, 2013

— Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard sat down in front of the television Saturday afternoon and watched Notre Dame-Michigan State.

Ikard watched Fighting Irish defensive tackle Louis Nix III — like Ikard, a preseason All-American according to many outlets — wreak havoc up front.

Not that Ikard needed a reminder about what to expect going head-to-head against Nix when Oklahoma travels to Notre Dame on Saturday.

Ikard has lived it before.

In last season's 30-13 Notre Dame win in Norman, Ikard became closely acquainted with Nix.

Notre Dame dominated the lines on both sides of the ball in that game, and the Sooners figure to need a big improvement to get out of South Bend with a win.

“Last year was certainly the biggest challenge to my season,” Ikard said.

On the first two times that Nix and Ikard went one-on-one, Nix showed how disruptive he could be.

On Oklahoma's second drive of the game, on third down deep in Notre Dame territory, Nix broke off of Ikard's block and got his hand up in time to deflect Landry Jones' pass, which was incomplete.

On the first play of the next drive, Nix drove Ikard back and once again got his hand up, though Jones was able to get the ball past Nix just in time.

The Sooners did plenty of things to help Ikard out, especially using Bronson Irwin, Adam Shead and the other offensive linemen to help on double teams. A few times, the 6-foot-2, 342-pound Nix demanded attention from three blockers.

That opened up room for linebacker Manti Te'o, last season's Heisman Trophy runner-up, to maneuver. It also helped keep Oklahoma's running game in check. The Sooners had just 15 yards rushing.

“He's the best in the country, especially at controlling the line of scrimmage, making plays and being active for his size,” Ikard said of Nix. “I'm very excited to be able to play against someone like him.”

With all of his success during his time at Oklahoma, Ikard still feels he has something to prove.

“This is a very important game for me individually,” Ikard said. “I've got to play well for my team to be successful. We're going to do what we need to do to control the line of scrimmage and be able to block those All-Americans they have.”

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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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