Notre Dame just keeps taking care of business. In what might be this season’s toughest test, the Irish had to be just that, and man did they bring it to Norman, Oklahoma.
Should anybody be surprised? Going into Saturday’s game, the Fighting Irish had won their previous 3 games away from Notre Dame Stadium by an average of 31.6 points. Coach Kelly has preached both mental and physical toughness all season, and nowhere does that show up more than on the road.
Everett Golson was back as the starting quarterback after missing last week’s game for precautionary reasons dealing with his concussion. He himself said it was a good opportunity for him to “clear his head”, and he apparently made the most of it. While his numbers (13-25 for 177 yards passing, 64 rush yards and a TD) won’t wow anyone, he played within the gameplan, made big plays when they were needed, and most importantly did not turn the ball over. On his scrambles he seemed to carry the ball better, and he looked to slide and avoid the big hit more than we had seen previously (although he did get crunched early in the 4th quarter).
Credit must be given to both Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick, who both had exactly 74 yards on the ground. They consistently found holes for 5-6 yards which allowed Notre Dame to slow the pace and control the clock. The gameplan all week was to get this game to the 4th quarter and then see what happened. The Irish did just that, as it was tied up 13-13 with less than six minutes to play. At that point, the Irish’s physical play had taken it’s toll on Oklahoma and they began to crack.
Of course, you have to tip your hat yet again to this incredible Notre Dame defense. Going into this game the Sooners’ offense was red-hot, but the Irish were more than ready for them. While they did manage to Belldoze their way to the first rushing TD that the Irish have given up this season, they were held to just 15 yards rushing for the game. Manti Te’o (who else?) paced the Irish will 11 tackles, a sack, and a Heisman-esque interception that ultimately sealed the deal as the Irish finished with a 30-13 victory.
Notre Dame is now 8-0 and announced to the world that they are here to stay in the National Championship discussion. There is no doubt that we are watching one of this country’s elite teams, and quite possibly the toughest one of them all. Just ask Oklahoma.