Sooners fall to Fighting Irish

NORMAN, Okla. — Notre Dame's dominance over Oklahoma continues, as the No. 5 Fighting Irish escaped out of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Saturday night with a massive statement victory, knocking off the eighth-ranked Sooners 30-13 in front of the largest ever crowd at Owen Field.

A raucous 86,031 left stunned as the Fighting Irish ran their all-time count to 9-1 against the Sooners and asserted themselves in the BCS National Championship race, while OU fell out.

The loss also becomes the first time since 1998 in which OU has dropped multiple home contests in the same season.

In a contest eerily reminiscent of an earlier season game against Kansas State, the Sooners just couldn't ever get off the field defensively when they had to, they couldn't create turnovers and they couldn't consistently establish an offensive rhythm.

Early miscues--among those, Sooner center Gabe Ikard snapped the ball past quarterback Landry Jones when he was checking at the line of scrimmage on the first drive of the game--prevented them from getting into any kind of that rhythm.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame's defense was just flat out nasty against the run.

The Irish limited the Sooners to their seventh-lowest all-time rushing total of just 15 yards, squashing out anything running back Damien Williams and crew want to do on the ground even though they allowed their first rushing touchdown of the season to the Belldozer in the fourth quarter.

The Sooners got on the board first when place kicker Michael Hunnicutt converted a 28-yard field goal at the 7:12 mark of the first quarter.

It took Notre Dame only 48 seconds to respond, and respond in a big way.

Irish running back Cierre Wood busted loose 62 yards to the house, giving the visitors a 7-3 lead, and they would never trail again.

Notre Dame place kicker Kyle Brindza hit a field goal of his own, a 34-yarder, midway through the second quarter to make it 10-3 Irish.

Just another field goal would cap off the scoring in the first half, this time again by Hunnicutt from 30, and Notre Dame led it 10-6 at intermission, an identical mark as the game a month ago against K-State.

They led it despite getting out-gained 197-161 and having only six first downs to OU's 13.

Another significant stat in the first 30 minutes was time of possession, which OU led by nearly five minutes.

But that would change after the teams came out of the locker rooms.

In fact, the Irish possessed it for 11:45 in the third quarter, limiting OU to just one possession in which it drove but eventually had to punt.

They controlled it for nearly two-thirds of the time, 19:57, in the second half.

Brindza and Notre Dame added their second field goal of the game early in the fourth when he booted through a 44-yarder that ran the count to 13-6.

It looked like the Sooners might finally have their push in the fourth quarter when, for the first time, co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and the Sooner offense broke out the Belldozer pass.

And it worked.

On fourth-and-2, Bell threw to fullback Trey Millard and he sprinted eight yards down to the 1.

A play later, Bell rushed in to tie the game at 13.

But Notre Dame quickly got back on top when the crowd was as hostile as it had been all night.

Two plays from scrimmage later, and the Irish were in the red zone.

Quarterback Everett Golson found pay dirt on third-and-1 with 5:05 to go for the eventual game-winning score.

On the ensuing possession, wide receiver Jalen Saunders, who found holes in the Notre Dame defense the entire night and amassed a program record-tying 15 catches for 181 yards, appeared to be interfered with.

Instead, no flag was tossed and Jones' passed tipped off Saunders and into the arms of Irish stud linebacker Manti Te'o's hands for a pivotal interception.

Notre Dame capitalized with a 46-yard field goal to go up 23-13.

The Irish capped off all scoring when running back Theo Riddick scampered in from 15 yards out with 1:36 remaining.

In the end, Notre Dame out-gained OU 403-379 and rushed for an astounding 215 yards.

Riddick and Wood, who each had touchdowns, led the way with 74 yards on the ground apiece for Notre Dame.

Golson threw for 177 yards on 13-of-25 passing.

Jones actually had quite a nice night, commanding the Sooners offense when it flowed to 356 yards on 35-of-51 passing with the one pick.

Saunders led all receivers, while Kenny Stills also had seven catches for 86 yards.

Sooner running back Damien Williams was limited to only 29 yards on 13 carries.

OU gets back to action next week when it heads to Ames, Iowa, for a contest against the Iowa State Cyclones at a time to be determined, while the undefeated Irish (8-0) now return home to take on Pittsburgh at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

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