Notre Dame and Oklahoma will meet on the football field for the tenth time this weekend in Norman, OK. While the hype surrounding the game is high as ever as Notre Dame enters the contest ranked fifth in the latest BCS Standings and riding a seven game winning streak, it will be far from the longest streak these two teams have put on the line in their previous meetings.
On November 16, 1957, Notre Dame traveled to Norman to meet the Sooners, who entered the game with a 47 game, 1,512 day winning streak. The 18-point underdog Irish triumphed in a low scoring affair, winning 7-0 and shutting out Oklahoma for the first time in 120 games. The lone touchdown was scored by Dick Lynch at the beginning of the fourth quarter after an 80 yard, 20 play drive. However, that 47 game winning streak remains the longest by a major college football team in NCAA history.
Oklahoma began the winning streak in 1953 with a win over Texas after losing to Notre Dame earlier in the season by a score of 28-21. Notre Dame and Oklahoma also met during the 1956 season, when the Sooners handed the Irish an embarrassing 40-0 loss in Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame leads the overall series with Oklahoma 8-1. The last meeting occurred in South Bend in 1999 during current Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops’ first season in Norman. Quarterback Jarious Jackson led the Irish, throwing for 276 yards and two touchdowns and running for 107 yards and another score, as Notre Dame squeaked by with a win, 34-30.
(Notre Dame is no stranger to ending winning streaks in other sports as well. The Notre Dame Men’s Basketball team ended UCLA’s record 88 game winning streak on January 19, 1974 in South Bend. UCLA’s streak began in January of 1971 after a loss to Notre Dame in which Irish star Austin Carr scored 46 points.)
While there will be no double digit win streak on the line this weekend in Norman, the result of the game will have large ramifications on the college football landscape. Oklahoma will enter ranked eighth in the country coming off a dominant performance against Kansas and former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis. The Sooners’ lone loss was suffered at the hands of national championship contender Kansas State, who became just the fourth team to win in Norman in Stoops’ first 82 games as a head coach. With a win, the Sooners will cement their status as a BCS bowl team and maintain an outside chance of playing in the National Championship.
For Notre Dame, the game offers the opportunity to quiet those who question its status as national championship contenders after a shaky performance against Brigham Young. A once seemingly daunting schedule now appears softened after the stumbles of some of Notre Dame’s opponents. A win in a hostile environment against quality competition would go a long way in shifting the public’s perception of the Irish. Furthermore, a strong defensive performance against a potent Sooner offense could thrust Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o to the front of a Heisman Trophy race that lacks a clear frontrunner at this point in the season.
The matchup will provide a contrast in styles as well, as Oklahoma ranks fifth in nation in points per game, averaging 44.7 a contest. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has surrendered just 9.4 points per game this season, good for second in the nation. It’s hard to imagine Notre Dame being able to keep up offensively with the Sooners in a high scoring shootout. The Irish will seek to continue winning ugly, low scoring games as they have the past two weeks against Stanford and Brigham Young.
The largest question facing the Irish will be the play of quarterback Everett Golson, whom Brian Kelly declared the starter for this week after the sophomore sat out the Brigham Young game with a concussion. The uncertainty of the Notre Dame quarterback play stands in sharp contrast with the Sooners’ quarterback situation. Senior and four year starter Landry Jones has been one of the best players in the country since assuming the role, taking over for Sam Bradford at quarterback his freshman year. Saturday’s matchup promises to be an exciting game, whatever the outcome.
Dan McGeever is a senior studying civil engineering. He enjoys an occasional Philly cheesesteak and is always on the lookout for a witty bookstore basketball team name. If you have one, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.