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Oklahoma football: Sooners are superior on offense, but defense will decide game against Notre Dame

If defense does win ballgames, then Notre Dame might have an edge on Saturday in Norman. But OU's defense is good enough to cause problems for Irish's mediocre offense.
by Jason Kersey Published: October 21, 2012

“It's a huge test for us offensively,” said Sooners co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “They are playing as well as anybody in the country defensively.”

Ditto for Oklahoma's defense. The Sooners' first unit hasn't given up a touchdown since Texas Tech's opening drive three weeks ago.

Since then, all opponent touchdowns have come in the fourth quarter with most of OU's starters resting.

The Sooners' defense really played well for three quarters against Heisman front-runner Collin Klein and Kansas State, but allowed two fourth-quarter touchdown drives in a 24-19 home loss.

The most striking difference between then and now? Takeaways.

Through the Sooners' first three 2012 games, their defense forced just one turnover — and it was against FCS opponent Florida A&M.

UTEP and Kansas State each went four quarters against the OU defense without turning the ball over. In the Sooners' last three games, though, they've recorded nine takeaways.

Against an Irish offense that has turned the ball over eight times — and fumbled it another eight times without losing possession — Oklahoma's newfound propensity for takeaways could be the difference Saturday.

“I think (takeaways are) critical and crucial to your defense,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “I think that tells you some of our players are becoming better playmakers throughout the course of the season, and that's always a positive.”