An Irish offense that had been lampooned as a potential impediment to any national title hopes came though with big, electric plays that Oklahoma's prolific offense couldn't.
In the first quarter, senior Cierre Wood burst through the Sooner defense for a 62-yard touchdown run.
Then in the fourth, after Oklahoma had tied the game on Bell's 1-yard touchdown run — the first rushing score the Irish defense has allowed all season — Golson faked a handoff and delivered a perfect throw behind OU's secondary to Chris Brown.
Golson's 1-yard touchdown run a few plays later put the Irish up 20-13.
“Every time we got momentum in the game, we kind of lost it immediately,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.
“Fourth quarter, in these two losses, we just didn't play good enough. ... That was disappointing that we didn't play well down the stretch.”
Oklahoma's comeback hopes were dashed for good when Notre Dame's Dan Fox hit receiver Jalen Saunders and popped the ball loose.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o dove and intercepted the football — the catch was reviewed and upheld — putting a final stamp on his impressive game and growing Heisman Trophy campaign.
Te'o finished with 11 tackles, leading the charge for a Notre Dame defense that held the Sooners to a paltry 15 rushing yards on 38 carries — a 0.6 per-carry average.
“For us, we knew what we could do,” Te'o said. “Today is no surprise. We knew that if we came into today and worked with confidence that we would be fine.”
Oklahoma was doing fine until Saturday; the Sooners had bounced back from the Kansas State loss with an impressive three-game win streak, and appeared to be firmly back in the BCS discussion.
Now, all OU can do is watch as two 2012 visitors that left Owen Field with a win — each 8-0 after Saturday — play on in the national-title race.
“It hurt,” said junior safety Tony Jefferson. “This one hurt a lot.
“We have to show some character and turn around. We have five games left to see what we can do.”