Notre Dame QB’s
Tommy Rees is coming off his worst game of the season for the Irish in the win over Michigan St. He completed only 14 of 34 passes for 142 yards and 1 touchdown. He was overthrowing receivers often which led to many incompletions as well. On the season, he has completed 79 of 142 of attempts for 1,111 passing yards along with a completion percentage of 56.0, 8 passing touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Andrew Hendrix has appeared in 3 of 4 games this season with just 1 completion on 5 attempts for 9 yards. Notre Dame has the 32nd ranked pass offense in the nation.
Notre Dame QB’s vs. Oklahoma Pass Defense:
The Sooners have the 39th ranked pass defense and are allowing 190.7 passing yards a game and have allowed zero passing touchdowns. The Sooners have 3 interceptions and are allowing opposing teams to complete just 51.3 percent of their passes. Tommy Rees will need to avoid overthrowing his receiver and avoid locking on to any to prevent predictability. If Rees can consistently complete passes, avoid overthrowing, and play mistake-free football, then that will help significantly as Rees needs to bounce back from a very inaccurate performance.
Trevor Knight opened the season as starter, but isn’t starting anymore after Blake Bell took over. Knight completed 21 of 48 passes and his completion percentage is only 43.8 percent for 205 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Blake Bell has been quite accurate with 69.8 percent of his passes completed. He has done this on 30 of 43 yards for 451 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He also has a long completion of 82 yards. Both quarterbacks were able to run the ball if needed as Knight had 20 attempts for 145 yards and a 7.2 yard average and Bell has 55 yards on 14 attempts for a 3.9 yard average, but has zero rushing touchdowns. This is a bit surprising considering that last season, Blake Bell had 11 rushing touchdowns last season that tied him for 1st overall on the team in rushing touchdowns.
Oklahoma QB’s vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense:
Oklahoma might have the biggest quarterback the Irish face all season who stands at 6’6” and 252 pounds. Bell is a force in the red zone with his history of gaining rushing touchdowns and has been referred to as the Belldozer (also in part to the Sooners having the Belldozer package on offense). While he is known best for running the ball, the Irish will need to account for him with passing the ball considering how accurate he has been and able to throw the deep ball as well. Notre Dame has the 67th ranked passing defense that has allowed opposing teams to complete 54.1 percent of their passes and have allowed 8 passing touchdowns and 228.3 yards per game. Notre Dame’s pass defense has 3 interceptions as well and 2 of the 3 have gone for touchdowns, while the third led to a touchdown drive for the Irish. Bell is one of the top quarterbacks the Irish face all season long.
Notre Dame RB’s:
The Irish haven’t been as impressive in the running game as they are ranked 100th in the nation with an average of only 114.2 yards per game. Cam McDaniel leads the Irish in rushing yards with 169 yards on 45 attempts for an average of 3.8 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Amir Carlisle has 157 rushing yards on 33 attempts and a 4.8 yard average. George Atkinson III had 121 rushing yards on 24 attempts and a 5.0 yard average and 1 rushing touchdown. Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant have 26 and 14 rushing yards, respectively.
Notre Dame RB’s vs. Oklahoma Rush Defense:
The Irish have been trying to search for their identity on the ground, but have struggled at times by facing strong run defenses all season long. Oklahoma won’t help either as they have the 17th ranked rush defense that allows only 100.5 yards per game and for opponents to just get 3.9 yards per rush and 3 rushing touchdowns. The Irish might lean more on Cam McDaniel, the leading rusher in the last couple of games and one who has scored 2 very important touchdowns. The Irish should still try to work in the freshmen as well so that they can get playing time.
Brennan Clay leads Oklahoma in rushing yards with 262 yards on 45 carries for an average of 5.8 yards per rush along with 2 touchdowns. Damien Williams has 161 rushing yards on 37 attempts and a 4.4 yard average. Roy Finch has 110 rushing yards on 15 attempts (7.3 yards per rush) and Keith Ford has 66 yards on 11 attempts (6 yards per rush) and a rushing touchdown. The Sooners have the 16th ranked rushing offense and have an average of 271 rushing yards per game.
Oklahoma RB’s vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense:
The Irish have the 28th ranked rushing defense that allows 114.2 rushing yards a game and 2 rushing touchdowns. Opponents have been averaging 3.7 yards a rush on the Irish. The Irish have done decent in the last couple of games against the run after being unremarkable in the first two games. The Irish will need to account for Blake Bell in the red zone in addition to the main running game. The Sooners have a variety of players who are able to run the ball and that can pose challenges, but Oklahoma faces a much stronger run defense in Notre Dame’s after playing against weak run defenses in the first three games of the season.
Notre Dame WR’s and TE’s:
TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels both are nearly tied for the receiving yards lead. DaVaris Daniels has 305 receiving yards on 20 catches for a 15.2 yard average and 4 receiving touchdowns. TJ Jones has 21 receptions for 304 yards for a 14.5 yard average and 2 receiving touchdowns. Tight end Troy Niklas has 9 catches for 158 yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and a 17.6 yard average. Chris Brown has 7 catches for 125 yards with a 17.9 yard average and Corey Robinson has 4 catches for 66 yards and a 16.5 yard average. CJ Prosise has 3 catches for 25 yards with an 8.3 yard average and William Fuller has 1 reception for 37 yards.
Notre Dame WR’s vs. Oklahoma DB’s:
The Irish continue to show tremendous depth the receiver position with freshmen Corey Robinson and William Fuller both making important plays that also were first down conversions too. The Sooners had lost most of their starters in the secondary going into this season and while they are ranked in the top 40, they haven’t had an impressive schedule with 2 of the 3 opponents being in non-BCS conferences. The other team, Big 12 conference opponent West Virginia, had came into the season with a new starter at quarterback and their top 3 receivers from last season gone. The Irish have the most talented receiving unit that Oklahoma will face so far this season and could pose problems with increasing depth.
Edge: Notre Dame
Oklahoma WR’s and TE’s:
Oklahoma lost their top 2 players from last season that combined for more than 150 receptions, 1800 plus receiving yards, and 16 receiving touchdowns. Sterling Shepard has 11 receptions for 146 receiving yards with a 13.3 yard average and 2 touchdowns while Jalen Saunders has 10 catches for 137 yards,3 touchdowns, and a 13.7 yard average. Durron Neal has 6 catches for 91 yards and a 15.2 yard average and LaColtan Bester has 6 receptions for 69 yards (11.5 yard average). Jaz Reynolds has 5 catches for 121 yards and a team-high 24.2 yards per catch.
Oklahoma WR’s vs. Notre Dame DB’s:
The Irish must remain consistent in the secondary against Oklahoma. They have quite a few players that they can target in the passing offense and the secondary has been a mark down at times from the impressive unit from last season, but have done well in the last 2 games and are showing improvement, if they do well against the Sooners, the chance of a turnaround from the consistency issues in early games will be more than likely.
Notre Dame OL:
The offensive line hasn’t done as well in run blocking with a 3.7 average per rush and 114.2 rushing yards per game. They didn’t allow a sack against the Spartans, but opponents have had little difficulty in getting into the backfield with the line allowing 21 tackles for loss. Pass protection has been better with only 3 sacks allowed and only 2 quarterback hurries.
Notre Dame OL vs. Oklahoma DL:
The Sooners have not been as productive in getting to the quarterback with only 3 sacks, but have 10 quarterback hurries. They can get into the backfield with 12 tackles for loss. The defensive line on its own has only combined for 1 sack with 2 players combining for that one sack. The unit was a younger one coming in that lost most of its starters with the lone returnee being Chuka Ndulue. The Irish might be more productive with Oklahoma not being as strong and experienced on the line and should be able to keep Tommy Rees protected and look better in the run blocking area.
Edge: Notre Dame
One of the stronger units for Oklahoma this season is the offensive line. Run blocking has solid with 5.4 yards per rush and a very impressive 271.7 rushing yards per game. They have allowed 4 sacks on the season, but have allowed 19 tackles for loss in just 3 games. The unit is more experienced with the versatile Gabe Ikard anchoring the line at center and has started at guard as well before.
Oklahoma OL vs. Notre Dame DL:
The Irish have one of the most talented defensive lines in the country and gives the strong offensive line of the Sooners are challenge. The offensive line will face a Notre Dame team that has 4 sacks this season, 15 quarterback hurries, and 17 tackles for loss. The battles in the trenches once again are important here and red zone defense by Notre Dame will need to be at its best with Blake Bell being a red zone threat on the ground. The Irish will need to really contain the run game and keep Bell out of the end zone.
Notre Dame DL:
The Irish welcome back Sheldon Day, who was injured against Purdue and was quite active in the game and was heavily missed in the close win over Michigan St. Louis Nix III has 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup. Stephon Tuitt has 10 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception for a touchdown, and 3 quarterback hurries. Sheldon Day has 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss while Kona Schwenke has 3 tackles and 1 quarterback hurry.
Notre Dame DL vs. Oklahoma OL:
The Irish face an Oklahoma offensive line that keeps their quarterbacks protected, but opponents can get into the backfield with the 19 tackles for loss. Notre Dame will really need to contain the running game of the Sooners. This matchup is a balanced one between two really great units.
The Sooners lost a solid amount of players from their defensive line this season and returned only one starter in Chuka Ndulue. Charles Tapper has 14 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, and 2 quarterback hurries. Geneo Grissom has 8 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup. Jordan Phillips has 6 tackles, 1pass breakup, 1 tackle for loss, and the other 0.5 of the defensive line’s only sack. Chuka Ndulue has just 1 tackle and 1 fumble recovery.
Oklahoma DL vs. Notre Dame OL:
The Sooners haven’t done much in the stat department on the defensive line. Considering that they haven’t accounted for many sacks and haven’t been able to get into the backfield for many tackles for loss poses a problem for them. Notre Dame has done well in the pass protection area and should be able to keep Tommy Rees protected so that he can get passes off in enough time, but Rees needs to avoid overthrowing his receivers. The Irish should be able to contain the less experienced Oklahoma defensive line.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame LB’s:
Jarrett Grace earned his first start and started over Dan Fox in the Michigan St. game. Grace has played rather well this season and continues to improve and now has the lead in tackles on the team with 28 tackles and has 1 tackle for loss and a pass breakup. Carlo Calabrese has 26 tackles with 4 tackles for loss (team-high) and 1 fumble recovery. Dan Fox has 27 tackles and 3 tackles for loss. Prince Shembo has been able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks with a team high 7 quarterback hurries with 11 tackles. True freshman Jaylon Smith continues to be a player with impact and has started every game in his career at Notre Dame so far and has 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup. While he hasn’t started any games, Ishaq Williams has had importance to the defense and has 9 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack.
Notre Dame LB’s vs. Oklahoma:
The linebackers will be important in support to the front seven as Oklahoma has a strong running game and also in the red zone with Blake Bell. The play of the inside linebackers will need to be strong and Jarrett Grace is good in coverage and run support and will help. Stopping the running game is going to be as important as shutting down the passing game.
Senior outside linebacker Corey Nelson has the team in lead in tackles and tackles for loss with 20 and 3, respectively. He also has 1 sack, 3 pass breakups, and 2 quarterback hurries. Frank Shannon is second in tackles with 19 tackles and also has 1 tackle for loss and 2 quarterback hurries. Eric Striker has 10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 quarterback hurries.
Oklahoma LB’s vs. Notre Dame:
Oklahoma only lists two starters on their depth chart for the linebacker spot as they tend to use more defensive backs as they face spread offenses. The Irish have tended to pass more more this season with the running game struggling at times. The linebackers will need to account for Troy Niklas in coverage as he has been able to make plays in the receiving game for the Irish at tight end. Supporting the defensive line will be important as well.
Notre Dame DB’s:
The Notre Dame secondary has been a notch down from thee unit of the previous season, but they have contributed key plays that have turned the corner in games for the Irish. Matthias Farley’s interception against Michigan St. led to the game-winning drive with a Cam McDaniel rushing touchdown and Bennett Jackson scored on an interception return that put the Irish up a couple of scores in the win over Purdue. Bennett Jackson has 24 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, and 1 quarterback hurry for the Irish. Matthias Farley has 15 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, and 2 pass breakups for the Irish. KeiVarae Russell has 12 tackles and a team-high 4 pass breakups. Elijah Shumate has 10 tackles with 1 tackle for loss and Austin Collinsworth has 6 tackles and 2 hurries.
Notre Dame DB’s vs. Oklahoma WR’s:
The Sooners have quite a few players to target in the passing game. The Irish have been able to turn things around a little in the secondary, but they must remain consistent. With the main focus being Sterling Shepard and Jalen Saunders, Notre Dame must account for them and the other players who have made an impact such as Durron Neal, Jaz Reynolds, and LaColtan Bester.
Aaron Colvin is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the country coming into this season and has 8 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup. Zack Sanchez has 15 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and 2 pass breakups. Quentin Hayes has 12 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and 1 forced fumble. Julian Wilson has 8 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 2 passes broken up. Gabe Lynn has 5 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 pass breakup, and 1 fumble recovery (27 yards)
Oklahoma DB’s vs. Notre Dame WR’s:
The Oklahoma defensive backs will have quite a task in accounting for the receiving unit that Notre Dame has. TJ Jones DaVaris Daniels, and Chris Brown will be the main focus for them, but also they have to account for emerging freshmen in Corey Robinson and William Fuller, and even at tight end in Troy Niklas who can be a coverage nightmare with his size. If Tommy Rees avoids overthrowing his receivers, it will pose many problems for the Sooners secondary.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Kicking Game:
Despite a blocked punt and a missed field goal, Kyle Brindza had a big impact in the win over Michigan St. He has made 5 of 7 field goals (71.4 percent) with a long of 44 yards. Brindza also punts and has been solid with a 40.4 yard average on 14 punts with a long of 51 yards and has 2 touchbacks, 5 fair caught, 2 inside the 20, and 2 punts of 50 or more yards. Alex Wulfeck has also punted as well with 2 punts for 87 yards (43.5 yard average) with a long of 49. He has 1 touchback, and the other was fair caught inside the 20. Kyle Brindza is averaging 64.3 yards a kickoff on 22 overall with 12 touchbacks.
Oklahoma Kicking Game:
Mike Hunnicutt has made 8 of 9 field goals with a long of 44. His only miss was a 35 yarder on his fourth field goal attempt in the win over West Virginia. Jed Barnett is averaging 44.1 yards per punt on 13 punts with a long of 54 yards. He has zero touchbacks, 9 have been fair caught, 7 have been inside the 20, and 3 punts have been for 50 or more yards. Nick Hodgson is averaging 64.6 yards per kickoff on 22 kickoffs and has 15 touchbacks, but one has gone out of bounds.
Stronger Unit: Oklahoma
Notre Dame Return Game:
George Atkinson III has returned 11 kickoffs for 302 yards and has a 27.5 yard average with a long of 50. TJ Jones has returned 5 punts for 43 yards with an 8.6 yard average and a long of 18.
Oklahoma Return Game:
Try Franks has returned only 2 kickoffs for 52 yards (26 yard average) with a long of 28. Brennan Clay has returned 1 kickoff for 20 yards. Jalen Saunders has returned 8 punts for 108 yards for an average of 13.5 yards a return with a long of 45 yards.
Stronger Unit: Notre Dame
Oklahoma is coming off a bye week after winning at home against Tulsa the previous week. This will be their first road game of the season and don’t play another true road game until October 19th at Kansas (They play Texas at a neutral site on October 12th). The Irish handed Oklahoma a home loss last season that was one of only five home losses of Bob Stoops tenure at Oklahoma so far as Oklahoma has been one of the hardest places to play at for opposing teams as they had a period of 39 consecutive games won at home and went undefeated at home for 5 straight seasons. The Irish come off a close win at home over Michigan St. and are playing their 3rd home game of the season this weekend. Quarterback Blake Bell will be making his first career road start against the Irish and scored the only touchdown for Oklahoma in the 30-13 loss to Notre Dame last season. The Irish will need to contain the Oklahoma offense once again and remain consistent on defense. The running game will need to get things going after being underwhelming in the last three games and Tommy Rees will need to improve on a game against Michigan St. that saw him overthrow receivers very often. The level of competition that Oklahoma has faced so far has been unimpressive this season while the Irish are coming off 3 consecutive games against Big 10 competition.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Oklahoma 17