Site Predictions

Staff, moderators both split in decisions with talented Sooners coming to South Bend...

Tim O'Malley -- Publisher

When the betting line opened with Oklahoma favored by 3.5 in South Bend, my first thought was: Uh-oh, Oklahoma 31 ND 20.

Considering the point spread in June had ND favored by 2.5 (before Everett Golson was suspended), and it remained ND favored (by 1) when the season kicked off in late August, this is a pretty drastic point spread movement, one I'd guess is based entirely on Notre Dame's shaky play to date.

The Irish, because of their extensive fan base, has always been a sucker bet (they're winless vs. the spread this season through four). And when they're getting more than a field goal at home, the first thing you should think is: TRAP! Run away, don't bet on Notre Dame as home underdogs.

I expected legions of Irish fans everywhere to jump on this wager because the team has won 10 straight at home and at some point, fan's pride kicks in and they can't help but go with their hearts.

But here's the thing: the line hasn't moved, despite 63 percent of the betting public taking Oklahoma.

There aren't many wagering theories I've found true in my amateur forecasting career, either working for Irish Eyes or through a lifetime of watching and analyzing games prior.

But one rings true more often than not -- the betting public has no idea what they're talking about. And the betting public is pretty down on the Fighting Irish.

Remember, it's never as good, or as bad, as you think.

Notre Dame 23 Oklahoma 20 (Actual game analysis forthcoming)

Anna Hickey -- Recruiting Reporter

Overall team speed and an extra week to prepare are what gives Oklahoma the edge in this contest. Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell looked sharp in his first start against Tulsa and Oklahoma's defense has given up just 27 points in three games. Notre Dame has had some difficulty stopping the dual-threat quarterback this season, and Bell obviously fits that bill. Notre Dame's short passing game should be utilized more so than last week against Michigan State's defense, and Tommy Rees will be more a little more efficient with the deep ball as a result.

Still, I keep going back to Notre Dame's run game, and unless a back breaks through for some big yardage plays, there's too much pressure on Rees to repeatedly hook up with receivers down field to put points on the board... or at the very least jump start some momentum. If play action pass can complement Notre Dame's best game of the season on the ground and the defense contains Bell more times than not, I'm proved wrong.
Oklahoma 32 Notre Dame 21

Brian Dohn -- Recruiting Analyst

The names sound great in this one; Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame. However, much more is known about the Irish, which plays a real early-season schedule. They have been tested by Michigan and Michigan State. Oklahoma's top win is against an anemic West Virginia squad, so although the Sooners are allowing nine points per game, their defense is yet to be tested by a real offense. That comes Saturday, and it will not be pretty.
Notre Dame 27 Oklahoma 10

SeattleNDFan -- Moderator/Stoops' Naysayer

Oklahoma and the Belldozer invade Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since 1999 this Saturday and the Irish hold a 9-1 advantage in the all time series. That will be in serious jeopardy this time around as Oklahoma will probably be the strongest all around team the Irish have yet seen this season.

Notre Dame will need to be able to run on the Sooners or the afternoon will get ugly quickly. If Tommy Rees has to launch more than 35 of his signature laser beams on the day, it will likely be because Notre Dame is playing catchup. If there are any wrinkles Coach Kelly has been keeping under wraps, this would be the game to show them.

The good news is that while Oklahoma has an active and athletic defense, it's likely not quite as good as Michigan State's, and the Irish put 17 points up on the Spartans last week. Oklahoma will likely not play quite as much press coverage, so expect to see the Irish once again utilize the middle of the field for the passing game and release their TE's and RB's back into the patterns.

On defense, either the Belldozer or freshman Trevor Knight will add the dimension of a running QB to the mix and that's been the Achilles heel of defenses far more mature and fundamentally sound than the 2013 Irish have been to date. Expect Oklahoma to put up some points and move the ball as a result. The question is how much and how soon. The Belldozer is probably the better matchup right now for ND, as our linebackers are built similar to him, for power over speed. 

In the end, I expect a close game, and whenever the Irish can keep it close into the 4th, I have to like their chances with Touchdown Tommy and his emerging stable of playmakers.
Notre Dame 28 Oklahoma 27

Amruther24 -- Moderator/Going against the Family

Oklahoma returns to South Bend for the first time since 1999 this weekend carrying a 1-9 all-time record against the Irish. They lost some talent on the offensive side of the ball and certainly play a more wide open brand of football than ND's previous three opponents. Other than that, I don't really know what to think about them as I haven't watched them play this year.

What I do know is that the Irish are a completely different team defensively than the one OU faced last season and even that defense couldn't stop Blake Bell from scoring when OU got in the red zone. Given ND's defensive struggles, I think OU is going to put a lot of points on the board. I also think ND is capable of doing the same even though they still seem to play better offense on the road. Look for OU to make Tommy Rees pass a lot and for them to force him to make things happen downfield. I think he will this week, but it won't be enough as the defense continues to struggle with mobile QBs and in the secondary.
OU 35 ND 30

BNolan -- Moderator/Bundle of Sunshine

I'm as disappointed (or more) than anybody in the product Brian Kelly has put on the gridiron thus far. But I actually think the team can win this Saturday.  Which may just insure a loss, lol... I'll not directly address the considerable coach-speak rhetoric that we are fed weekly, and just say that an Oklahoma team with some vulnerabilities at home comes at a time when this coach and his team can make a statement to naysayers (speaking for myself, mostly) about who they think they are. Rock's house hasn't been all too intimidating in recent years as a venue for opposing teams to play. 

The opposite all too often.

It would be nice if this Saturday was raucous... as it should be. As always... mental mistakes and miscues are killers.  Tommy Rees needs to play over his head, the D needs to wake up for all four quarters, and the running game needs to do its job to help the passing game.  It will take bonehead-less football to win.  Which all of you already know.

So... going out on a shaky limb and hoping the Irish dig deep and play with pride... ND 20 OU 17

Morrissey79 -- Moderator

What to think of Notre Dame this year? It's hard to say any week has been pretty so far, but the Irish sit at 3-1 and are in a prime position to take a huge step in the right direction with a win at home against the Sooners.  

I really don't have much feel for ND this year.  

Going into it I thought the offense would struggle mightily, with flashes of strong play -- really only against MSU has the offense really struggled. The skill position players have proven to be very good, Rees has surprised me overall, and while there hasn't been an individual who has ran very well, until MSU the yards per carry were strong and the total yardage wasn't great but that was more due to the amount of times we actually tried to run it.  

On the other hand, I honestly thought the defense could improve upon last year, though I did concede points per game were going to increase slightly. I don't think I realized just how opportunistic our defense was the first four games of last year and that was mostly impossible to replicate. The defense has been more frustrating for me than the offense because again, I expect more out of it.  

What will happen on Saturday? OU fans seem to think they found their QB in Blake Bell...I'm not so sure. Yes, he played very well against Temple, and yes he'll have an entire 2 weeks to prepare for ND's defense, but I think we match up well. I think we can handle their run game pretty well and I think our corners are starting to gain confidence.  Our offense will probably look pretty similar to last week against MSU, a lot of fades and long throws to test the secondary and to prevent us from throwing a backbreaking INT on a slant or crossing pattern.  My hope is we see more commitment to the run game, but I doubt we will.  

That being said, ND has been winning games at home for quite some time.  

It's not going to be pretty, and at times you'll want to fast forward through the first 3 quarters simply to get to the 4th, but ND will defeat OU 24-17.

KurzND -- Moderator

The Irish are 3-1 but there is still a lot of uncertainty among fans about this Irish squad. This Saturday Bob Stoops and his Sooners will make their second trip to ND during his career. This year the teams have both changed quite a bit. New QB starters a revamped running game for OU, passing game for ND, and weaker defenses. 

OU comes in as the favorite again in this contest and 3-0, however they have yet to face a challenge or play a game away from home. While the Irish come in somewhat battled tested at 3-1 with 2 night time, prime time, road match ups vs Michigan and Purdue, and a physical win over one of the best defenses in the country in Michigan State. Sooner fans are hoping Blake Bell is the physical answer for OU to beat a still talent Irish front 7. 

For the ND defense they need to keep it the same as last year. Stop the run. They cannot let OU get a running game going and pass the ball. If there was a time for the Irish defense we remember last year, this is a good time for them to show. Watch out for Blake Bell running and the OU team power running when they get in the redzone and inside the Irish 10. 

For the Irish offense they need to commit to the run. ND will not beat OU, ASU, Stanford, or teams like BYU if they do not run better. They cannot rely on Tommy Rees to throw the ball 35-40+ times a game and expect to win. Kelly needs to be stubborn and stick to the run and keep trying unless ND is down by two scores in the 4th quarter. 

Hope for the Irish to prove me wrong, but I can't see the team I have watching pulling off wins vs some one of the better teams on the schedule. 
Notre Dame 17 Oklahoma 29

GaviND -- Moderator

One year removed from the game that put Brian Kelly's Notre Dame football team back on the college football map, the Oklahoma Sooners come to South Bend looking to exact revenge from a game in which they were favored by 12.5 points.

Much like the 2012 rendition of the game, Oklahoma enters the affair favored to win and Notre Dame enters the game trying to prove, once again, that they are for real.

Despite redshirt freshman Trevor Knight's reported return to health, senior quarterback Blake Bell will be under center for the Sooners Saturday afternoon. While Knight is easily the more dynamic of the two options, Bell is the better passer of the two -- something that could spell trouble for an oft beaten Irish secondary.

While the Sooners are unquestionably a talented team, they -- much like the Irish -- have failed to impress early on.

The big question, in this moderator's opinion anyway, is if Bob Stoops' boys can match Notre Dame's physically. At first glance (especially in light of the uninspired start the Irish are off to) this game looks like a potential disaster for the Irish, however if Notre Dame can control the trenches and win the turnover battle as they have so many times the last season and a half, they should walk away 4-1
Notre Dame 22 Oklahoma  17 Top Stories