Top Ten Clash in Norman: #5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #8 Oklahoma Sooners

#5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #8 Oklahoma Sooners
Saturday, October 27, 2012, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium – Norman, Oklahoma
Opening Line: Oklahoma -9 1/2
Current Line: Oklahoma -11 1/2
Opening Total: 47 1/2
Current Total: 47 1/2
Opening Money Line: Oklahoma -415 / Notre Dame +345
Current Money Line: Oklahoma -440 / Notre Dame +360

Oklahoma is an 11.5 point favorite at home Saturday night as they host Notre Dame in a clash of top ten teams.

Two of college football’s preeminent programs meet Saturday in Norman as the Oklahoma Sooners host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It would be a huge game anyway, but the fact that both teams are in the top 10 in the BCS standings adds even more intrigue. This is the 10th ever meeting between Oklahoma and Notre Dame, but the first since 1999. Notre Dame leads the series 8-1 all time, including 4-0 in Norman. The Fighting Irish haven’t played in Norman since 1966. Oklahoma’s lone win in the series came in 1956.

Notre Dame is 7-0 this season under coach Brian Kelly. The Irish are #5 in the BCS standings and one of 11 undefeated teams in the country. Notre Dame has wins over Navy in Dublin, Ireland 50-10, Miami-(FL) in Chicago 41-3, home wins over Purdue 20-17, Michigan 13-6, Stanford 20-13 in overtime, and last week against BYU 17-14. Notre Dame also has a road win at Michigan St 20-3. Notre Dame is 4-3 ATS and the total is 1-6 this season. The Fighting Irish were 11.5 point favorites against BYU and the total was 41.

Notre Dame is averaging 387.9 yards per game on offense, including 194 passing yards and 193.9 rushing yards. The Irish are #38 in rushing and #100 in passing nationally. Notre Dame is outscoring teams 26-9 this season. They are #77 in scoring offense, but #2 in scoring defense. Notre Dame is +9 in turnovers this season. The Fighting Irish have allowed 13 sacks this season. Notre Dame is 42/97 on third and fourth down conversions and 26/34 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns. Notre Dame has one of the best defenses in the country. The Irish are allowing 280.7 yards per game including 174 passing yards and 106.7 rushing yards. Notre Dame is in the top 16 nationally in all categories. The Irish have forced 19 sacks and 17 turnovers this season. Notre Dame opponents are 43/108 on third and fourth down conversions, and 10/19 scoring in the red zone with 4 touchdowns.

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has completed 79 of 135 passes (58.5%) for 968 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 42 carries, 81 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with a concussion after missing the BYU game. If Golson can’t go it will be Tommy Rees. Rees has completed 24 of 41 passes for 335 yards, along with 2 touchdowns and an interception.He also has a rushing touchdown. Kelly has also used Rees in late game situations when the Irish need a score. It is almost like a closer in baseball. Running back Theo Riddick has 95 carries, 451 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 20 carries for 170 yards. Cierre Wood has 65 carries, 393 yards and 2 touchdowns. George Atkinson III has 37 carries, 301 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Tyler Eifert has 19 catches, 319 yards, and 3 touchdowns. T.J. Jones has 21 catches, 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. DaVaris Daniels and Robby Toma will also get some catches. Four Notre Dame defensive players including 3 players in the secondary are listed as questionable or out for Saturday’s game.

Oklahoma is 5-1 this season and 3-1 in the Big 12 under coach Bob Stoops. The Sooners are #8 in the BCS standings. The only loss came at home to current #3 Kansas St 24-19. The Sooners have home wins over Florida A&M 69-13, and Kansas 52-7, a win in Dallas over Texas 63-21, and road wins at UTEP 24-7, and Texas Tech 41-20. Oklahoma is 4-2 ATS and the total is 3-2. The Sooners were 34.5 point favorites and the total was 55.5 in the Kansas game last week.

Oklahoma is averaging 488.2 yards per game on offense, including 288.3 passing yards and 199.8 rushing yards. The Sooners are outscoring teams 45-15 this season. Since being held to 19 points in the Kansas St upset, Oklahoma has scored 41 against Texas Tech, 63 against Texas, and 52 against Kansas St. They are now #5 in points scored in the country. The Sooners are +2 in turnovers, this season. The Sooners are 42/80 on third and fourth down conversions, and 32/33 scoring in the red zone including 25 touchdowns. Oklahoma has allowed 10 sacks this season. On defense, Oklahoma is allowing 301.7 total yards, including 163.5 passing yards and 138.2 rushing yards. The Sooners are #15 in total defense, #9 against the pass, and #12 in scoring defense. Oklahoma has improved their rush defense after struggling earlier in the year. The Sooners have forced 13 sacks and 10 turnovers this season. Oklahoma opponents are 8/11 scoring in the red zone with 6 touchdowns, and 39/103 on third and fourth down conversions.

Quarterback Landry Jones could have gone to the NFL this season, but returned for his senior season. While Jones hasn’t been terrible this year, he hasn’t lived up to the immense pre-season hype in which some thought he could contend for the Heisman Trophy. Jones has completed 134 of 213 passes (62.9%) for 1,653 yards with 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He has been sacked 8 times this season. Back-up quarterback Blake Bell has 31 carries, 59 yards and 8 touchdowns. Running back Damien Williams has 74 carries, 552 yards, and 7 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 134 yards. Dominique Whaley has 38 carries, 241 yards, and a touchdown. Brennan Clay has 29 carries, 211 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 44 yards. Full back Trey Millard has 14 carries for 109 yards, along with 13 catches, 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Kenny Stills has 38 catches, 471 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Sterling Shepard, Justin Brown, and Trey Metoyer also get significant catches. Seven Sooners are out indefinitely or for the season, including 4 defensive players.

Notre Dame is 5-1 ATS after passing for less than 170 yards, 8-3 after scoring less than 20 points, 3-7 against teams with winning records, 2-5 in road games against teams with winning home records, and 0-4 after rushing for more than 200 yards.

Oklahoma is 4-0 ATS in October, 6-1 in non-conference games, 5-1 after rushing for less than 100 yards, 4-1 at home and overall, 7-2 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 8-3 after a straight up win, 12-5 after passing for more than 280 yards, and 2-5 after allowing less than 20 points.

The last time these two teams played was in 1999. Notre Dame won 34-30 to give Bob Stoops his first loss as the Sooners’ coach. In this match-up, Oklahoma is favored by 11.5 after opening up as a 9.5 point favorite. Whether Oklahoma covers depends on the pace of the game. Notre Dame can’t get into a shootout with the high octane Sooners or they will get blown off the field. They must control the clock with their running game and excellent defense. Oklahoma’s defense isn’t quite as good as Notre Dame’s but the Sooner defense is still a top 20 unit nationally. I like Oklahoma to win a close game at home.

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