Jones will be expected to be on point in every facet of the game, whether it's hitting wide receiver Kenny Stills on a post or checking down and dumping off to his back for a safe outlet or even throwing the ball away. Early in the season and throughout his career, for that matter, Jones has had some trouble with that. Instead of chucking it into the stands on one play against Kansas State, he held on and fled the pocket, but was hammered and fumbled, resulting in a touchdown. Later, he threw a ball off his back foot way over the nearby Stills. It was picked off and led to another K-State touchdown. These are the types of plays he'll have to avoid against an even better Irish defense.
For the most part this year, Jones has been solid. He's delivered 12 touchdowns to only three interceptions, and those numbers could be even better if not for the Belldozer package inside the red zone (more on that in a minute). The Sooner signal caller has completed 62.7 percent of his passes and is really starting to come into his own as a Davey O'Brien Semifinalist. The last three weeks combined he's tossed seven touchdowns to only one interception and amassed 880 yards through the air. Oklahoma would welcome similar production from him in this one.
2 -- Running Back #26 Damien Williams: Speaking of welcoming production, the Sooners certainly have enjoyed what the junior college transfer tailback has brought to the table this year. Halfway through the regular season, Williams is well on his way to a 1,000-yard season. In becoming the No. 1 back over walk-on sensation Dom Whaley, he's currently posted 552 yards and seven touchdowns on 74 carries. Williams has shown a healthy mix of the ability to pop the big run but also to pound it between the tackles for tough yardage. He recorded the longest touchdown run in Red River Shootout history when he busted one 95 yards to the house against Texas a couple weeks ago. Williams also has long touchdown runs of 89 and 65 yards this season, so he's certainly got big play ability in the running game.
But he's also effective as a receiving target out of the backfield. Jones has found him for 11 catches and 134 yards. That's 12.2 yards per reception, so the Irish will have to contain him not just when the ball is handed off to him but also when he slips out in the flat.
The encouraging news is that Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech have all held him under 50 rushing yards. Limiting him to that total is one way to shut down the Sooner offense.
3 -- Fullback #33 Trey Millard: One of the season's biggest mysteries is why the Sooners didn't get this guy involved more early on. Since utilizing him more in the offense the past three weeks following their lone loss, the Sooners have scored 156 points. Eighteen of his 27 total touches have come over that time span. With that, he's accounted for a couple of touchdowns, including a 25-yard touchdown pass from Jones against Texas and one of equal distance last weekend against Kansas.
On the other hand, in the first three contests where they only gave him nine touches, the Sooners scored 25 or more points just once. That came in a contest against FCS opponent Florida A&M. So, clearly it's done wonders getting Millard the ball more. Still, what he does when the ball isn't in his hands is notable as well. Millard serves as one of the key blockers in the Belldozer package and opens up some of the holes for that dominant goal-line package that has accounted for eight scores in 2012.
4 -- Quarterback #10 Blake Bell: Most people around here don't even know him by Bell anymore. He's the Belldozer. Admittedly, opponents have still truly yet to figure out a great way to stop this power package that features Bell coming into the game in third-and-short and goal-to-go situations behind blockers Millard and fullback Aaron Ripkowski. The Belldozer has found pay dirt the eight times on 31 attempts this season, including just the third-ever four-touchdown performance on the ground by a Sooner signal caller against Texas.
If anyone figures to stop it, though, it's a physical front like Notre Dame has with a dominant force in the second level in Heisman hopeful linebacker Manti Te'o. They'll have to get through blocks and shut it down in the backfield, however, or else it'll be over. Bringing down the 6-foot-6, 254-pound force at the line almost always results in a couple more yards and the necessary yardage for the guy and formation opposing defenses have referred to as the "Tebow package."
5 -- Wide Receiver #14 Jalen Saunders: Have to go back to the skill position for another player to keep an eye on here. The Sooners got a major boost before the Texas game when they got the news Saunders' transfer waiver from Fresno State had been approved and he was eligible to play immediately. Otherwise, the coaching staff was poised to redshirt last year's leading receiver for the Bulldogs who amassed 1,065 yards on 50 catches.
His impact for Oklahoma has been an immediate one, both in production and personnel. It has allowed Stills to move back to the outside, while Justin Brown remains there and Saunders can operate in the slot. That has maximized Oklahoma's big play potential in the passing game. Saunders had his first start the other day against Kansas and caught three passes for 34 yards. He's managed five total catches for 88 yards in two games. Saunders could be critical in opening things up over the middle, as well as opening up more one-on-one match-ups for Brown and Stills on the outside.
Joey Helmer is the publisher of SoonersIllustrated.com.