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OU football: Sooners' nonconference schedule not so good until Oct. 27 against Notre Dame

UTEP is 0-2 all-time against Sooners. Florida A&M comes in Sept. 8 for what should be a sound beating.
by Jason Kersey Published: June 24, 2012
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Leading receiver Lenworth Lennon, a sophomore, returns after hauling in 596 yards and two scores a year ago.

Defensively, linebacker Brandon Hepburn and tackle Padric Scott are seniors leaders.

Projection: Taylor has built Florida A&M into a solid FCS program that contends for MEAC titles every year. But for the Rattlers, this game is a thrilling opportunity to play on a big stage, a paycheck and nothing more. For the Sooners, it's a chance to rack up some stats and get backups some experience. OU 70, Florida A&M 0

NOTRE DAME

When: Saturday, Oct. 27 (Time TBD)

Where: Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman

Head coach: Brian Kelly (16-10 in two years)

All-time series vs. OU: 8-1

2011 record: 8-5

Outlook: Much of the game's focus will likely center around its historic nature — two of the best college football programs ever facing off. It's Notre Dame's first visit to Norman since 1966, and the first game between the schools since the Irish beat the Sooners in 1999, Bob Stoops' first year on the job.

Then, of course, there's the fact that Notre Dame snapped OU's record 47-game winning streak in 1957.

Rumors that Notre Dame could soon join the Big 12 Conference only add to the game's intrigue.

History aside, this game has the potential to be good on its own merits.

The Irish return senior running back Cierre Wood, who rushed for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns last season but struggled against the top-tier opponents on the Irish's schedule.

The biggest question mark is at quarterback. Junior Tommy Rees threw for 2,871 yards and 20 touchdowns a year ago, but he was in a four-man battle for his job during spring football. The situation became even more complicated after Rees was arrested in early May with linebacker Carlos Calabrese on charges stemming from an off-campus party. Rees' next court date is July 17; he faces four misdemeanor charges.

On defense, Notre Dame has a dangerously thin secondary that just got thinner with the news that junior safety Austin Collinsworth might miss the entire 2012 season.

The Irish defense received a boost by the return of linebacker Manti Te'o. As a junior, he led Notre Dame in tackles and sacks in 2011. Te'o was projected as a first-round NFL Draft selection.

Projection: Notre Dame could be settled at quarterback and in the secondary by late October, but Brian Kelly's two-year tenure has been marked by inconsistency and disappointing performance in big games. OU 31, Notre Dame 17

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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