Notre Dame prepares for trip to Oklahoma

Manti Te'o has led an impressive Notre Dame defense that ranks only behind Alabama in points conceded.

For once, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was not picked as a preseason favorite heading into the 2012 College Football season. Apparently, that’s just the way the Irish like it.

With a 17-14 win over Brigham Young last Saturday, Notre Dame moved to 7-0 for the first time since 2002, and straight into the National Championship conversation.

This weekend the Irish will look to keep that momentum going with a trip to Oklahoma.

Keeping Up or Leading the Way?

With the lowered expectations of the preseason, No. 5 Notre Dame still finds itself dismissed in the bigger picture.

Those in favor of No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Kansas State and No. 4 Oregon all believe the Irish will fall off sooner or later. The feeling has been that Notre Dame are keeping up rather than leading the way. A win over No. 8 Oklahoma this weekend could well change that mentality.

Notre Dame has already seen off three ranked opponents (Michigan. Michigan State and Stanford) and with two left on the slate (Oklahoma and USC), it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider this the toughest schedule this season. If it’s not, it’s right up there.

Irish Visit Sooners on Saturday

Notre Dame travels to Norman, Okla., for the first time in 46 years this Saturday. That game saw the Irish take a 38-0 victory in 1966 on the way to a National Championship. Fans will be hoping this proves a harbinger for the remaining weeks of this season.

Oklahoma has only ever beaten Notre Dame once – a 40-0 win back in October, 1956 – and has lost the last six meetings between the sides, including a 45-21 defeat the last time the two sides met (October 2, 1999).

Despite Notre Dame’s historical dominance, Oklahoma is currently set to enter Saturday’s matchup as 11-point favorites, a result of the Sooners’ countrywide dominance over the last six or seven years.

Oklahoma is 79-4 under head coach Bob Stoops and has dominated College Football for most of that time. An early loss to the still-unbeaten Kansas State put a blemish on the Sooners’ record this season, but a win against Notre Dame could put the side from Norman back in the National Championship picture, especially if the likes of Alabama and Florida drop wins along the way.

Saturday’s matchup will pit Oklahoma’s high-scoring offense – averaging 52 points per game since losing to Kansas State – against Notre Dame’s formidable defense – second to only Alabama in points allowed and yet to concede a rushing touchdown.

Bettors eyeing the spread should consider that Oklahoma is 4-2 ATS this season while Notre Dame is 4-3 ATS.

The over/under is 48. Six of Notre Dame’s seven games have gone under the total this season – only an opening week drubbing of Navy in Dublin went over – while four of the last six Irish road games have gone under too. Oklahoma has seen the total go over three times this season.

Notre Dame’s visit to Oklahoma Memorial Stadium will mark only the second time the Fighting Irish have visited an opponent’s stadium this season, the other encounter taking place at Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium. The Irish have also played in the aforementioned Dublin and defeated Miami (FL) at Soldier Field in Chicago.

National Championship Odds: Notre Dame is currently 14/1 to take the BCS National Championship, number seven on the College Football Futures list. Saturday’s opponent Oklahoma is 18/1.

 

Remaining Schedules

Notre Dame

Oct 27: at No. 8 Oklahoma

Nov 3: Vs. Pittsburgh

Nov 10: at Boston College

Nov 17: Vs. Wake Forest

Nov 24: at No. 9 USC

Oklahoma

Oct 27: Vs. No. 5 Notre Dame

Nov 3: at Iowa State

Nov 10: Vs. Baylor

Nov 17: at No. 19 West Virginia

Nov 24: Vs. Oklahoma State

Dec 1: at TCU

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