An offense that never got untracked and a defense that wilted in the fourth quarter made for some poor Sooner grades.
FOURTH-QUARTER DEFENSE: D
Against a team that had scored more than 20 points in only two of its seven victories, the Sooners got precious few stops. In six second-half possessions, Notre Dame had one punt and no turnovers. In the final 14 minutes, the Irish scored two touchdowns and kicked two field goals. It was similar to OU's defensive wilting in the fourth quarter against Kansas State.
RUNNING GAME: D
OU tailback Damien Williams, and even hard-nosed fullback Trey Millard, did not run north/south in their limited carries. Williams, especially, strung out plays horizontally rather than turn up field and take what he could get. But there wasn't a lot of room to run. OU running backs finished with 44 yards on 17 carries, making it difficult for Landry Jones to mount a passing attack.
The OU marketing department hatched the dubious plan of having fans in even-numbered sections wear crimson and fans in odd-numbered sections wear white. These landscape plans work best in basketball, or at least in warm-weather football. Easy to find a red or white shirt. Hard to find a red or white coat, for a game where temperatures dipped into the low 40s. Plus, the three sections of student seating are general admission. But the fans did a decent job of making it look presentable.
The Sooners went high-speed only once, on its only third-quarter possession, and stayed with it only three or four plays. It worked well, but OU never went back to it.
SERIES CELEBRATION: A
Clendon Thomas (OU) and Don Lawrence (Notre Dame), veterans of the famed 1957 game in which the Irish ended the Sooners' 47-game winning streak, were honorary captains at the coin toss, along with Jay Wilkinson, son of Bud Wilkinson. OU also showed a video tribute to Thomas, a 2011 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, which included highlights of OU's 40-0 victory over the Irish in 1956, the lone Sooner win in the series. Also, OU showed a video tribute to Merv Johnson, including his Notre Dame years.
PASS PROTECTION: A
The Sooners protected Landry well. He was sacked just twice, once on the final play of the game, and mostly had plenty of time to throw. Of course, Notre Dame didn't blitz much, preferring instead to defend OU pass receivers. The Irish gave up a ton of completions (36, in 52 attempts) but allowed only one pass play longer than 21 yards until the last meaningless minute.
PASS COVERAGE: C
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson didn't produce Big 12-like numbers. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 177 yards. But Golson consistently completed clutch passes, often against OU star cornerback Aaron Colvin. And Golson's 50-yard completion to freshman Chris Brown was the game's biggest play, reversing momentum in a 13-13 game.
TRESS WAY: A
Hard to win when your punter is the player of the game, but Way might have been. He had six punts for a 42-yard average, but five of the six were inside the Notre Dame 20-yard line, with no touchbacks. That's excellent placement.
HALFTIME SHOW: A
The Notre Dame staged a “Back to the Future” routine, with three songs, including the theme song, “Back in Time,” played while marching in formation of a DeLorean car, complete with steam coming out of contraptions carried by the accompanying Irish Guard. Meanwhile, OU twirler Megan McGeary countered by juggling three flaming batons. Hard to beat smoke and fire in one halftime show.