Key matchup: Nix III vs. Ikard

It's not as simple as saying the winner of this matchup is why OU or Notre Dame will win, but the Gabe Ikard vs. Louis Nix III battle is one to watch Saturday.

A lot of matchups will decide who wins between No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 22 Notre Dame on Saturday, but there is one in the trenches that might resonate a little bit more.

OU center Gabe Ikard vs. Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III

It will symbolize either how far the Sooners have come from last year or be an indicator of the job that still lies ahead for Bill Bedenbaugh in his first year as OU's offensive line coach.

The Irish bullied the Sooners last year in Norman, Okla., especially when it came to the Notre Dame defensive line against the OU offensive line.

"There's no doubt that Nix is the best in the country," Ikard said. "It constantly takes two guys to block him. I saw on Saturday against Michigan State how active he is. He's one of those guys where you can tell how strong and talented he is on the tape.

"Last year he was certainly the biggest challenge of my season. I'm excited to block the best in the country."

Nix was Ikard's biggest challenge and one he didn't win last year. OU has become a lot more physical on the offensive line. The linemen were encouraged to eat all summer and gain weight and become the bully this year.

Ikard won't be alone as there's no doubt guards Nila Kasitati and Bronson Irwin, whoever is in at the time, will provide some assistance. Winning the line of scrimmage will be crucial in this one, and it starts with this matchup.

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