After getting by with another win over Michigan State, Notre Dame will have to perform on both sides of the ball to have a chance against the Oklahoma Sooners. Last year, Notre Dame surprised college football as they traveled to Oklahoma and beat the favored Sooners 31-13. Oklahoma has to be looking to get some payback this Saturday after last year’s rare loss at home and one-and-nine overall record against the Fighting Irish.
With the talent of Oklahoma, the Notre Dame defense will be in big trouble if they play at all like the Purdue and Michigan games. Brian Kelly will be counting on the defense to build off of last week’s strong play. The Irish held Michigan State to just 254-total yards and turned the game around with a key interception. They’ll be up against a different look this week with Oklahoma’s spread offense and will be dealing with a mobile quarterback. Blake Bell just took over for the injured Trevor Knight and has speed that could hurt the Irish if the defensive line loses containment. Last week in his first start, Bell picked apart Tulsa and finished the game with 413-yards and four touchdowns. With the Notre Dame offense still finding their identity another defensive stronghold will be crucial for a win.
Comcast SportsNet reports that Brian Kelly is confident in the defense and is seeing progression. He said"You could sense it. The pass rush was better. We were on body a lot better. Assignment was much better. Definitely, you could sense that the defense is starting to come together."
The Notre Dame offense came out flat last week after having a decent start to the season. Tommy Rees had trouble moving the ball downfield and was helped out be an overly aggressive Michigan State defense. Cam McDaniel was emerging as the favorite at running back but Kelly will continue rotating in Atkinson and Carlisle depending on matchups and productivity. The rush attack has to improve to take pressure off of Rees and create a balanced offense. The receiving core is still playing well and will have to make plays whenever the opportunity arises. Notre Dame needs some lengthy gains to get some confidence back throughout the offense.
A win over Oklahoma would bring some hope back for this year’s Notre Dame team. A loss would drop the Irish out of the Top-25 with more tough games still to come. The Fighting Irish will have to execute Kelly’s game plan and play inspired football against the Sooners if they wish to remain relevant this season.