#5 Notre Dame at #8 Oklahoma
Where: Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
When: Saturday at 8:00 PM ET on ABC
Last time they met: Notre Dame beat Oklahoma 34-30 in 1999 in South Bend
For those of you that have followed my Marquee Matchup series this year (thank you for your readership), you’ve seen a lot of SEC football. That will happen when one conference has 4 teams in the top 10 – whether or not the conference deserves its widespread praise is a whole different animal, but I digress.
This week – FINALLY – the Marquee Matchup features Notre Dame as the #5 Irish visit #8 Oklahoma in Norman. With surprise Heisman candidate Manti Te’o leading the 2nd ranked scoring defense in the country to a 7-0 record to start the season, even those of us fans with this game circled on the calendar over the past few years couldn’t have expect the significance and stage of this contest.
On the field, a stout Irish defense that has yet to face a top offense (at least statistically) will have its toughest test to date. First year quarterback Everett Golson will have a chance to make a name for himself, and must come up with BIG plays in front of a Sooner crowd that is calling this the team’s biggest home game since #1 Nebraska rolled into town in 2000. The Sooners dominated that game by a score of 31-14, by the way.
This game is ripe with something I call “upside optionality.” If the Irish win, not only will they be 8-0, but they should be able to coast into Los Angeles with a national championship birth on the line when they face USC after matchups with Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest.
I could go on and on about individual matchups (I really like the Irish D-line matched up against the Sooner O-line; I particularly like ND’s chances of getting pressure with a 4-man rush as Landry Jones has not created any threat with his feet this season), but what I can’t stop thinking about is what this game could mean for the program. Sure, it would silence plenty of doubters, but anyone that has actually watched the Irish and actually looked at the real strength of schedule (I’m looking at you, Colin Cowherd) knows that this Notre Dame team is extremely strong.
Losing would be painful, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Notre Dame is not yet back to a level where we can consider anything less than 12-0 a failure, but a win will help the program tremendously in returning to that status. The odds makers are giving the Irish 11 points in this matchup – which tells me one thing: Sooner fans are addicted to gambling…seriously, when has a team giving up 9 points per game been given 11 in the spread??? I’ve been very successful picking against the spread in my marquee matchup so far this year (5-2), and this week I don’t think the Irish are going to need Vegas’s 11 points at all. ND will control the ball on offense with Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick enough to keep the defense rested, and the Irish will come up with a few big turnovers courtesy of Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and KLM putting pressure on Jones. Then, as the clock winds down to 0:00, the celebration begins. Final Score: Notre Dame 24, Oklahoma 21
Previous predictions:[table “” not found /]
Twibby’s 2012 Record vs. Spread: 5-2