NORMAN, Okla. -- Notre Dames hex on Oklahoma is so strong it now impacts an entire conference.By taking down the Sooners 30-13 in a defensive struggle Saturday, the Fighting Irish strengthened their position in the national championship race at the expense of the Big 12.The Sooners entered the game ranked eighth in the BCS standings, and they are the most impressive conquest of Big 12 leader Kansas State.But now the same is true of Notre Dame, and in this sport of style points that influence ballots and computer calculations, hints such as comparative outcomes against common opponents carry weight.The Irishs victory Saturday was as impressive as anything that happened Saturday, perhaps all season, but coach Brian Kelly wasnt in the mood to talk about the deeper meaning.Im not going to say were not excited, Kelly said. But if we start talking about all these other things, were going to lose sight of how we got here. If we start listening to national championship and BCS, well lose a football game. Thats what I told them in the locker room.You can almost hear Alabamas Nick Saban, Kansas States Bill Snyder and Oregons Chip Kelly expressing the same sentiment on a day when their teams all won, and the fifth contender Florida fell to Georgia.Heading into the weekend the top five went: Alabama, Florida, Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame.Will the Wildcats move into No. 2? If so, can they stay there by winning out against a schedule that doesnt includes only one team Texas ranked in the BCS top 25 entering this week?The Irish will jump at least one and perhaps two spots because they put together an effort mindful of the programs glory years. And for Oklahoma, the game served as a painful reminder of how little success the Sooners have had in dealing with the Irish.Notre Dame, which now leads the all-time series 9-1, ended Oklahomas college record 47-game winning streak in 1957. On Saturday, the Irish ended any hope of the Sooners, 6-2, returning to the national championship picture this season.It stinks to lose, Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops said.Offensively, Irish redshirt quarterback Everett Golson played beyond his years, expertly moving Notre Dame against the Big 12s top scoring defense. His one-yard touchdown run with 5:05 remaining proved to be the game winner and it answered Oklahomas lone touchdown, scored only moments earlier.On the deciding drive, Golson completed a 50-yard bomb to freshman Chris Brown, and when the Irish moved to the Oklahoma 1, he took the shotgun snap and burrowed into the pile for the touchdown.It was Oklahomas turn to respond, but instead, Notre Dames stud defender and Heisman Trophy hopeful came up with the games biggest stop. Linebacker Manti Teo collected a tipped interception tossed by Landry Jones.Hes everything you look for in a candidate, Kelly said of Teos Heisman hopes.The Irish had the ball, the lead and precious few minutes remaining.But it was enough time for Notre Dame to tack on 10 more points and give what had been a close game a blowout score.And scores matter. How many voters in the USA Today or Harris polls watched the game? But everybody will see a 17-point victory for a team that was a double-digit underdog.Only a few minutes before Golsons score, Oklahoma had finally reached the end zone. With nine minutes remaining, Blake Bell the Bell-dozer stretched his 6-6, 254-pound frame across the goal line and with the extra point the Sooners made it 13-13 with 9:10 remaining.It took a gusty fourth-down call to reach the 1. Needing two yards from the 9, Bell took the snap and charged as if he was going to throw his body into the pile. Instead, he slung a pass to Trey Millard in the flat, which picked up eight.On a night when Oklahoma looked to re-establish a place among college football leaders, the Sooners highlights were few and big plays non-existent.Mistakes, however, were plentiful.The packed stadium was on fire as kickoff approached, and when the Sooners opened the game in a flurry three Jones completions in the first 38 seconds the place was shaking.Two more snaps and the Sooners had reached Irish territory. Notre Dame defenders couldnt react quickly enough to Oklahomas pace.And suddenly they didnt have to. Jones moved from his shotgun position to the line to change the play, but center Gabe Ikard didnt realize this. He fired the snap to where he thought Jones was standing. OU recovered, but the 19-yard loss started a slow drain of Oklahomas battery.The Sooners defense got caught out of position for the games first touchdown. Safeties cheated up when Cierre Wood found a seam and burst into an open secondary for a 62-yard touchdown.Meanwhile, Oklahoma was held to a paltry 22 rushing yards. A second-quarter touchdown by Bell was wiped off the board by a holding penalty. Meanwhile, Notre Dame dug in.Physical and mental toughness, Kelly called it.Just dont call it a BCS or national championship game statement, at least not to Kelly.
Posted on Sat, Oct. 27, 2012 11:06 PMShare Email Print Order Reprints
Notre Dame takes down Oklahoma and scrambles BCS
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