The Sooners used a variety of four-linebacker sets. Sometimes a 3-4-4, sometimes a 4-3, with Nelson or Striker moving up to the line, sometimes even an old Okie 5-2. However, the alignment made the Sooners light (in pounds) on the edge, and Notre Dame took advantage. The Irish tailbacks averaged 9.8 yards per carry, and even taking out George Atkinson III's 80-yard run, Notre Dame tailbacks gained 136 yards on 21 carries.
The day was sunny, so there was no blue-gray October sky. But there was something better. The vibrant colors of a Notre Dame green-out by its fans, with plenty of crimson mixed in, plus the luscious uniforms – the Irish's splendid navy and gold, with OU's regal whites – made Notre Dame Stadium look like a kaleidoscope. Or a French painting.
KICKING GAME: A
Punter Jed Barnett was solid, Michael Hunnicut nailed two chip-shot field goals and Nick Hodgson had touchbacks on six of his seven kickoffs. The Sooners also didn't allow a meaningful return by Notre Dame. Plus, Trey Franks had one of the game's biggest plays – a 40-yard kickoff return after the Irish drew within 21-14 early in the third quarter.
FIRST-DOWN DEFENSE: B
Notre Dame converted just four of 12 third downs, and here's why. The Irish only thrice faced 3rd-and-3 or shorter. Notre Dame seven times faced 3rd-and-7 or longer. On 22 first down plays, the Irish 13 times made three yards or less. However, Notre Dame did strike for two big touchdowns on first down, the 80-yard run by Atkinson and a 30-yard TD pass from Tommy Rees to Troy Niklas.
BLAKE BELL: A
Not all of Bell's passes were pinpoint. But all of his decisions were. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, ran for 59 yards on 12 carries and didn't come close to throwing an interception. In his first road start, Bell was superb.