“All of a sudden Texas doesn't matter? Big 12 championships don't matter?” Stoops responded when asked if a win at Notre Dame could become the signature victory OU has lacked in recent years.
“At the end of the day, it's not a conference game. We've played one conference game. There's a big schedule still in front of us.”
Oklahoma has won seven Big 12 titles outright under Stoops, and shared last year's with Kansas State.
“You'd rather win a conference game as opposed to this,” said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “We're about winning conference championships and competing for national championships. This is the next game.”
Notre Dame, of course, doesn't have conference titles to fall back on.
The Irish have always played football independently, meaning that to Notre Dame, high-profile games like this one are vitally important to the only championship it competes for — national championships.
The Irish enters Saturday's game at 3-1, with a 41-30 Week 2 loss at Michigan blemishing their record.
Fourth-year head coach Brian Kelly led Notre Dame to an unbeaten regular season in 2012, but the Irish were routed by Alabama in the national championship game.
Last October's win at Oklahoma helped the Irish establish themselves as a legitimate national contender a year ago, and a win Saturday over the currently unbeaten Sooners could again boost the program in 2013.
“I embrace it,” Nelson said of the hype surrounding OU-Notre Dame. “You only get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be in a situation like this. I'm embracing the opportunity.”