By: Evan J. Thomas- October 25, 2012
So how does the old saying go? "Defense wins championships and offense wins games". Notre Dame's defense has played lights out through the first seven games this season, led by Heisman candidate and senior linebacker Manti Te'o. Its going to take more than just stellar defense to stop the high powered Oklahoma Sooners.
The toughest matchup of the season for the undefeated Irish comes this Saturday night in the hostile grounds of Norman, Oklahoma as the Irish put their 7-0 record up against the one loss Sooners.
The Sooners dynamic offense is led by senior quarterback Landry Jones. Jones offense is currently ranked 17th nationally but has yet to encounter a stifling defense like the Irish. Jones is by far the best passing quarterback the Irish have seen all season. Jones is surrounded by a bevy of offensive talent that will surely look to put pressure on the secondary of Notre Dame.
For the Irish to win they will need to prevent the big plays downfield and will need to force Jones into making mistakes. That is a daunting task for the Irish defense but a task that they have relished in all season.
Irish quarterback Everett Golson has been cleared to play and will start this Saturday night. Golson sat out last week's BYU game due to a concussion suffered in the Stanford game the week before. Golson will need to grow up fast in that intimidating atmosphere and limit his mistakes. The momentum the running game has given the team in past weeks will need to be on display again for the Irish offense to put points on the board. Golson is going to have to beat the Sooners with his arm, as the Sooners are likely to load the box in an attempt to force Golson to throw.
It has been 10 years since Notre Dame was still in the mix for the BCS National Championship hunt this late in the season. Head coach Brian Kelly has his troops looking more and more like the Cinderella story of the year. The pressure this week has been placed squarely on the shoulders of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and his squad to win at home more than it will be for Notre Dame to go 8-0 since the Sooners are an 11 point favorite. No one predicted the Irish to be in this position let alone undefeated with the schedule they have endured this season.
My prediction for this week - Oklahoma 20 - Notre Dame 13