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Oklahoma football: Sooners bring big-play ability into an even bigger matchup with Notre Dame

COMMENTARY — A month after a home loss to Kansas State, Oklahoma will play host to Notre Dame next Saturday in a game Bob Stoops says is the Sooners' biggest in Norman since Nebraska in 2000.
by Jenni Carlson Published: October 20, 2012

“Loved it,” a giddy Stoops said of Walker's run after the game. “Really thought he was going to score. He had blockers with him.”

Stoops almost chuckled.

“Need to teach them to block a little better.”

While these big plays are great fun to re-live and re-watch, they're also a sign of something grand. Sure, they're a nod to some special individual talent, but they're also a reflection of a team that's playing pretty darn well.

“Those big plays come when we're firing on all cylinders,” Stills said. “When we're playing together — all 11 on the same page at the same time — then those big plays can come.”

That's the type of play OU will need against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are a stingy bunch, winning games with SEC scores instead of Big 12 ones. Being able to hit them with big plays will be crucial.

It will keep the Irish honest, but it will also keep the Sooners loose.

Take the offensive line for example.

“Our job up front is to make the smallest holes and hold guys back so those guys can make plays,” center Gabe Ikard said.

Having an explosive team takes some pressure off everyone in the biggest non-conference game in the Stoops era.

The Sooners have played plenty of marquee non-conference opponents since Stoops arrived. Alabama. Miami. Florida State. But because non-conference games are most often played before the first of October, the stakes aren't normally as high.

This game against Notre Dame is different.

Not since 2008 has there been such a big home game this late in the season. That was the year Texas Tech came to Norman with the No. 2 ranking and the national title hopes but left with “Jump Around” ringing in their ears.

The atmosphere will be every bit as lively next week. ESPN is bringing College GameDay to town. ABC is broadcasting in prime time.

A big week awaits.

“I think we should embrace it,” Jefferson said. “It's our time to shine.”

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. You can also like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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