Notre Dame v. Oklahoma: Key Matchups


Louis Nix - Notre Dame NT
Michigan Wolverines running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (28) runs the ball at Notre Dame Fighting Irish player Louis Nix III (1) in the third quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame moved to 3-1 on the season with a victory over Michigan State in a hard fought defensive battle.  The Irish did not look efficient on offense versus the Spartans and have a big challenge coming to South Bend in the undefeated Oklahoma Sooners.  The Sooners will be playing their first road game of the season when they face the Irish and will be looking to prove they are an elite team and not just a team undefeated because of their weak schedule thus far.  The following are the key matchups the Irish must win to be successful versus the Sooners:

Louis Nix versus Gabe Ikard:  Just as it was last year the matchup of Irish nose guard Louis Nix and Sooners center Gabe Ikard will be pivotal in deciding the game.  Nix is an All-American talent considered by many to be the best nose guard in the country, his counterpart Ikard is considered to be the same at the center position.  Nix controlled the matchup when the two met in Norman last season and he’s going to have to win it again when the two seniors go at it in order to disrupt the Sooners ground attack and also pressure quarterback Blake Bell into bad decisions.

Jarrett Grace versus Blake Bell:  Irish linebacker Jarrett Grace is experiencing his first season as a regular contributor at Notre Dame and despite being a work in progress leads the team in tackles with 28.  Grace will be in for a challenge in Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell.  Bell is a dual-threat quarterback as he is a punishing runner who can also throw the ball well.  Bell has completed 70 percent of his passes this season for 451 yards and four touchdowns.  Grace will have all of his skills tested as he must contain Bell’s success running the ball while also matching up on Oklahoma receivers and running backs as the Sooners spread the field with their passing attack.

DaVaris Daniels versus Gabe Lynn:  As the season has progressed DaVaris Daniels has continued to prove he is the big play threat for the Irish and will likely draw the opposition’s number one corner on most occasions, this week that is Gabe Lynn.  Daniels has dominated so far this season and when he hasn’t been recording catches he has been drawing pass interference penalties as he is extremely difficult to cover man to man.  Sooner cornerback Gabe Lynn will need to shut Daniels down or the Irish receiver could have a huge day.  Lynn is a senior who leads the Sooners in interceptions with two and also has a fumble recovery this season.  If Daniels can beat Lynn in one-on-one coverage it will make Tommy Rees’s life much easier when it comes to moving the ball downfield.

Cam McDaniel versus Corey Nelson:  Irish running back Cam McDaniel is the man the Irish coaching staff has intrusted with the responsibility to earn the tough yards running the football.  Notre Dame will need to experience success running the ball versus the Sooners because without balance on offense they will struggle.  McDaniel will be meeting Sooners linebacker Corey Nelson is the hole most of the afternoon.  Nelson, a senior from Texas, is the Sooners leading tackler so far this season with 20 and also has a sack and three pass breakups.  McDaniel will need to wear down Nelson and win the majority of their meetings as the Irish will need every inch as the team has struggled immensely in the run game, particularly in short yardage.

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  1. “Sad Warrior,”

    Totally missed you own movie reference. Awesome job!

    Keep the pop culture references coming….

  2. Yes, Jack! I totally agree. Why not allow academically and athletically gifted JC transfers? Why not go back to the Lou Holtz-era policies of admitting some borderline cases? I believe that netted us players like Chris Zorich, Ricky Watters, and Jerome Bettis, among others, back in the day. Not coincidentally that was the last time ND was at the top of college football. BTW: Note that there were no major recruiting or academic scandals during Lou’s tenure. So it’s not like the more liberal admission policy brought in thugs and illiterates.

    Jack that’s why I said what I said about perhaps ND football no longer being feasible long term. Sure, the Irish may play for a NC every decade or so but unless it opens things up a bit more (without degrading itself like the SEC or Ohio St.) it will be hard to ever be consistently great again. You see, that’s not me being on a ledge or negative. After all, you seem to agree with me so that would make you a pessimist too. No. I think it’s a realistic way for ND to get back to the top without sacrificing its soul in the process.

    Strange how people can come to some kind of common understanding when they talk rather than sling mud.

    1. SFR,

      I also remember most of those players graduating. I’m not saying get criminals but there is no reason why you can’t take a few players that are on the edge of getting in and not getting and give them the oppertunity for a great education.

      I think if ND does that they will easily become a force in college football. It leads to depth of the team and if you have a recruiting class that is horrible you can always fill the hole with a few JC players. Why not make St. Mary’s a footballs school or feeder program.

  3. No calls where Tommy rolls right and throws the ball. One of those is coming back. Game will be decided by a field goal. Go Irish!

  4. Jack,

    Just pulling YOUR chain….. Perhaps more serious about some others on here, though…..

    Pickle Juice with Vodka or Kool Aid anyone? 😉

    1. SFR,

      The way they are playing pass the Vodka with some, tomato juice, horseradish, celery salt, a-1 and every Marylander’s favorite with their Bloody Mary rim the glass in Old Bay.

      I agree that this team is underachieving and that when you stack this program up against the top 5 teams it doesn’t stack up. I also can say that no other top 5 team in football is also there academically. They also grey shirt, accept JC transfers and are pretty much a feeder system for the NFL. I hate saying this but ND was at it’s finest when it allowed border line kids the oppurtunity to play at the school.

      I don’t want ND to shirk on their principals, but they need to learn to make exceptions. I don’t think Rudy could get into the school now. I do believe that ND needs to win a BCS game or make the playoffs and soon, but based on what I have seen this season they are not ready.

  5. Jack,

    The only ledge I’ve ever been on was one overlooking a giant waterfall in Argentina. I’m afraid of heights.

    But I guess a lot of ND fans on here are afraid of heights, too. They’re afraid of seeing ND at the top so they prefer to sink to the bottom and settle for ticker-tape parades for beating Temple. Hooray, we beat the mighty Owls of Temple. The good thing about the mediocre is that they don’t ever have to get high enough to be on any kind of ledge. They’ll settle for just being stuck in the mud.

    How many BCS bowl wins have we won, Jack? There’s always next season, right? Or the one after that? Or the one after that? Etc., etc., etc.

    Go Cubs! Oops, meant Go Irish!

  6. I think everyone going to the game Saturday should dring a gallonn of vodka and pickle juice before kick-off…

    You know… in keeping with the whole “everybody wears green” thing.

      1. Actually Normie, the ancient Mesopotamians drank the fermented juice squeezed from the cucumis sativus gourd,(or pickled cucumber)by specially selected gourd maidens as a remedy for the hangover long before aspirin, Alka-Seltzer, or the “hair of the dog” was ever used.

        So yes, Jason Witten would make a fine spokesmen as he is part Mesopotamian

    1. Shaz-We (those who will not be Reshembo’d) are wondering what is this pickle juice thing? Our OU Dudes are saying it’s some sort of voodoo elixir to help ND gain an edge!

      We are glad to hear SFR has lessoned the ‘Broken Arrow’ talk and has a good feeling. He is one honest guy for sure!


      1. Sad Warrior,

        “What is this pickle juice thing?”

        ***See cliff notes above.

        or… anytime you read a post that mentions drinking “kool-aid” just substitute kool-aid with the words “pickle juice”
        and your in like flint!

        ND Pickle Juice…. Hoooah!

  7. Ron, Might be a good idea to do so, right? If Jason Witten’s for it, it has to be good!

    What’s your gut telling you about the game, Ron?

      1. SFR, JC, JDH and Ron,

        I will be drinking mass quantiities of beer in my home city of Baltimore, but now back to the game. I am glad I SFR is off the ledge and getting that happy feeling.

        Here is my take on this match up: This Irish team has a knack of playing to the competition, If the competition is good then the Irish will play well. How does this translate, it translates into a lot of fourth quarter ball games and nail biters. I hate nail biters and fourth quarter games but that is what I have seen all year long is playing to the level of their competition.

        Now my take on OU: They have only played WVU and they just got stomped by Maryland. WVU gave up 16 points to OU’s offense. This is the same defense that just got torched by Maryland for 36.

        Tommy needs to continue to take shots deep and down field. Until they start connecting on those shots defense will not respect it and jam the line of scrimmage with 8-9 guys daring Tommy to beat them.

      2. By the way, Shaz and Ron.

        Sorry, sincerely, I know I put on my pilgrim heretic hat…I was wrong concerning you guys! Turns out, Ron had me choking on my early coffee today with extreme laughter. All I can really say Shaz…yeah we are really 100% Irish!

        Not to mention, Rob and I were frolicking on “Pickle Juice!”


      3. Jack,
        I think there is ALOT of truth to ND playing to their level of competition- we certainly saw that throughout 2012 (- the NC game against Bama).

        One thing is almost assured: even with our problems this year, ND’s future is bright! Saturday will be a great litmus test. Man I remember how much fun I had last year during the Oklahoma game! What an atmosphere- especially when (per usual), all the TV “experts” picked ND to lose! Not so fast my friends!

      4. Yep I definitely will buy the beer if that improves spirits around here. I may need it by the 4th quarter.

        Lets go Irish, Lets go Irish

  8. “Sad Warrior,” “Shaz,” “JC,” “JDH,” and the other die-hards on here, call me crazy, but I think ND will play its best game of the young season against OU. I know that I’m going on blind belief and that’s something that I usually warn against. But I just have a gut feeling. Can’t explain it. The key is to play smart and don’t give up any easy points. Cliches, I know. But nonetheless true. Just see what happens when you go against the cliche. So let’s have some guarded optimism. As usual, however, I like other here will nonetheless call like we see it without sugarcoating anything. No drinking the “pickle juice,” right JC?

    1. SFR,
      I feel we’ll do fine against OU. I am worried though that Tommy’s many “near-picks” could turn into actual picks anytime now. If Tommy plays smarter and the offensive play-calling is more novel, I think it’s a W.

  9. Shaz-we hear you loud and clear. “Shembo Monster… Ring that Bell!”

    From wahat we’ve seen (and been told) this Folston is a powerful back who does not go down easily. Also that Redfield is a phenom in the wings? Why is he not on the field yet, somewhere?

    You really scored some points with the ‘change up’ idea with Hendrix and Zaire. The Sooners might not know how to react to that surprise. Having TR and one of them on the field together would really cause some confusion.

    Go Irish! Hooah!

  10. Shaz and SFR-seems to us that the hidden key to this game may rest in the area of psyops:breaking the will of the Sooners ‘sooner’ than later? We are confident the Irish will bring their best ‘A’ game effort of the season , but we expect OU will do the same as well.

    It’s been difficult to get read on the Irish since we missed seeing the first three games and only recently could read articles on those games. It does appear that Shembo Monster, Irish Chocolate (voted our personal fave here), Grace, and of course Mr. Tuitt have all improved as this season unfolds. Any thoughts? Any controversies you would like to initiate will be noted and appreciated. Our ‘Sooner Dudes’ are aching for some fuel to be tossed into this fire…

    Enjoy the game. Go Irish! Stay safe. Hooah!

    1. Warrior,

      I like your term “hidden key”.

      If you remember last year’s meeting in Norman the hidden key was Chris Brown who stepped up to make a big play when the game was tied in the 4th quarter.

      It seems to take up to around the 4th game of the season for our freshmen to learn the offence, get accustomed to the speed of the game, and have some plays designed for them that are put into the game plan.

      Will Fuller had a big catch last week, Cory Robinson looks like he’s the real deal and could have a big game, and Folston saw some actual playing time other than clean up duty late in the 4th quarter.

      As much as we have struggled in short yardage I wouldn’t be surprised to see Zaire run some option (if healthy) or Hendrix in the wildcat in those situations.

      On the defensive side we really missed Sheldon Day last week.
      If he’s healed up enough he should give us big a boost, and I think Max Redfield brings too much speed to our secondary not to see the field more.

      Breaking the will of the Sooners is going to be a challenge, with then having their bye week last Saturday, they now 2 weeks to rest and prepare for the Irish.

      Hopefully these early season games against BIG10 teams has toughen the lads up.

      Shembo Monster… Ring that Bell!


    2. Warrior,

      Have you ever seen the TV show “South Park?

      If you have, then know about Eric Cartman.

      He likes to play a little game called ROSHAMBO.

      If your Sooner Dudes are really aching for some fuel for the fire, just challenge them to a game of roSHEMBO!

      Here’s how you play roSHEMBO..

      Everytime The Shembo Monster makes a play, you kick a Sooner dude in the nuts!

      And oh yeah, you go first!

      Shembo Monster!…. The Prince of Pain!

      1. We are up for it! Except they want a deal-they want to use a bat or a razor on the ND followers. Sometimes these OU Dudes are very scarey! However, they have rooted and cheered for the Irish in all other games. They are a classy and good bunch; just a tad bit touched in the head at times!

        We have that good feeling as well about the game.

        Go Irish! Hooah!

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