After Oklahoma and Notre Dame traded three-and-outs, the Sooners took possession on their own 48-yard line and quickly drove down the field and, on a fourth-and-two play from the Irish 9-yard line, Blake Bell tricked the Irish offense with a pass to fullback Trey Millard for a first down.
On the very next play, Bell scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 13 with about nine minutes remaining.
With the home crowd back in it and all the momentum seemingly shifted to Oklahoma, Notre Dame came up with another huge offensive play.
Quarterback Everett Golson, who didn't play last week and wasn't named this week's starter until passing concussion tests, briefly left the game after sustaining a monster hit from Tony Jefferson near the end of the third. But after the Sooners had tied the game, he faked a handoff and hit Chris Brown deep across the field for a 50-yard gain.
A few plays later, he scored on a 1-yard run to give Notre Dame the lead again.
Oklahoma couldn't match the Irish this time, though. The comeback crumbled when Irish defender Dan Fox hit Saunders and popped the ball loose for Manti Te'o to snag with a diving interception.
The replay official reviewed the catch at OU's 45-yard line and upheld the call.
Te'o, a senior middle linebacker and Heisman Trophy candidate, finished with 11 tackles and a sack.
Notre Dame has won 11 national championships over its illustrious football history, but none since 1988.
The Sooners last played the Fighting Irish in 1999, Bob Stoops' first season on the job. Since that 34-30 loss in South Bend, Ind., Notre Dame has gone through four head coaches.
Oklahoma's all-time record against Notre Dame is now 1-9. In 1957, the Irish famously snapped OU's record 47-game win streak under legendary coach Bud Wilkinson.
Saturday, Notre Dame prevented Stoops from tying Wilkinson for second place on the Sooners' list of winningest coaches.