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Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame: Breaking down the matchups

A unit-by-unit look at who has the edge in Saturday's game between No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 22 Notre Dame.
by Jason Kersey Modified: September 26, 2013 at 9:53 pm •  Published: September 26, 2013

Advantage: Oklahoma

DEFENSIVE LINE

Oklahoma has played with a three-man defensive front this season, and the unit appears drastically improved from last season. Starters Geneo Grissom, Charles Tapper and Jordan Phillips have made things uncomfortable for opposing quarterbacks, getting pressure and causing disruption. Notre Dame, though, returns two All-America defensive linemen in Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt.

Advantage: Notre Dame

LINEBACKERS

Oklahoma is playing with linebackers again, and they're playing really well through three games. Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon are the Sooners' two leading tacklers. Notre Dame lost Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te'o from last year's team, but returned Dan Fox and Prince Shembo, both of whom started games in 2012.

Advantage: Notre Dame

SECONDARY

Oklahoma's passing defense has — for the most part — been solid through three games. The Sooners are allowing 191 passing yards per game, while Notre Dame allows 228. Both squads have intercepted three passes. The Irish's secondary is considered the weak link of the defense behind a strong front seven.

Advantage: Oklahoma

SPECIAL TEAMS

Oklahoma's Michael Hunnicutt has hit eight of his nine field-goal attempts this season, while Notre Dame has missed three attempts. The Irish's kick-return average is slightly better than OU's, but the Sooners have been better on punt returns, and Jed Barnett's 44.1-yards per punt average is five yards better than Notre Dame's punting average.

Advantage: Oklahoma

COACHING

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has frequently repeated that last year's home loss to coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame came down to the Irish's ability to make all the plays in the fourth quarter. Lots of that is on the players, but a good chunk of the blame falls on coaching, too.

Advantage: Notre Dame

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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