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  • Irish Stake Their Claim in Oklahoma

    by John Vannie

    Notre Dame answered the challenge in resounding fashion after Oklahoma tied the game with nine minutes remaining, and the Irish pulled away for an impressive 30-13 victory over the Sooners. A long pass from Everett Golson to freshman Chris Brown set up Golson’s go-ahead touchdown, and a diving interception by Manti Te’o ended Oklahoma’s last real hope. Theo Riddick rushed for a 15-yard score with 1:36 left to add an exclamation point to a win that will finally cause many Notre Dame detractors to take notice.

    The Irish defensive game plan worked to perfection as they allowed Sooner quarterback Landry Jones to complete short passes in the middle of the field, but held the Sooners to only four of 13 conversions on third down. Notre Dame was also tough in the red zone, allowing only 13 points in four trips. Oklahoma’s dangerous receivers were frustrated all evening as the underrated Irish secondary tackled well, did not permit many yards after the catch and absolutely took away the deep throw.

    Offensively, Golson protected the ball with crisp passes and darting runs. Both Riddick and Cierre Wood chipped in to give Notre Dame more than 200 yards rushing, and T.J. Jones lead the receivers with five catches. Most importantly, the Irish did not commit a turnover and had only one five-yard penalty. Although the special teams struggled most of the evening, Kyle Brindza’s clutch 46-yard field goal after Te’o’s interception gave Notre Dame a 23-13 lead with only 3:22 remaining.

    Although the Irish had plenty of late game heroics, the first couple of possessions for each team contributed significantly to the outcome. The Sooners started fast behind Jones and had Notre Dame on its heels until a bad snap from center sailed over Jones’ head for a 19-yard loss. Oklahoma’s next opportunity ended with a field goal by Mike Hunnicutt, but the red zone stop was a victory for the Irish. Trailing 3-0, the visitors answered when Wood burst through the line on a draw play for 62 untouched yards and a 7-3 advantage.

    The defenses settled in and the teams could only manage an exchange of field goals in the second period as the Irish took a 10-6 lead into the locker room. An apparent touchdown by Blake Bell was nullified by holding, and Te’o stopped another threat with a crushing third down sack of Jones.

    Notre Dame dominated the third quarter by holding the ball for over twelve minutes, but had nothing to show for it until Brindza squeezed a 44-yarder inside the near upright for a 13-6 lead. The Sooners got the ball back in good position after an exchange of punts, and Jones finally hit a big play to Jalen Saunders to set up a one yard dive by Bell to tie the game. Golson then silenced the suddenly active Sooner crowd with a 50-yard bomb to Brown at the Oklahoma 15, and a subsequent third down conversion set the stage for his one yard plunge into glory with 4:27 left.

    Dan Fox got his hands on a Jones pass four plays later, and Te’o lunged for the ball before it hit the turf to knock the wheels off the Sooner Wagon.

    The game unfolded in the way Irish fans had hoped. Jones’ early success and up tempo passing attack was brought to earth by a combination of Sooner mistakes and Notre Dame adjustments on third down. Golson was able to ease into the game without the pressure of being behind on the scoreboard, and he remained poised throughout the evening. The Irish were able to overcome Oklahoma’s dominance on special teams, which only serves to underscore the play of Te’o and the defense. Cornerbacks Bennett Jackson and KeiVarae Russell also deserve special recognition for solid performances.

    Let’s review the pregame questions for additional insights:

    Which quarterback will best protect the football? Although Jones played reasonably well, he is a fifth year senior. One cannot say enough about the job Golson did in this environment.

    Can Notre Dame shut down the run and make the Sooner offense one dimensional? Absolutely. Oklahoma had approximatley 35 yards rushing.

    Will the Irish get off to a solid start on the road? Yes. The early defensive stands and Wood’s TD run to give them the lead were critical to the outcome.

    Can Notre Dame’s receivers get open against the talented Sooner secondary? Yes, and this was a key element in Notre Dame’s ability to control the ball. Several receivers made clutch receptions on short passes while Brown’s ability to burn Oklahoma deep was decisive.

    Will poor special teams play finally cost the Irish? It did not cost them the game, but it did cause me to double my blood pressure medication.

    Can Notre Dame improve its own efficiency in the red zone? Definitely. Golson’s go-ahead score came at a point when the Irish really needed seven points instead of three.

    At what point in the broadcast will you hit the mute button on Brent Musberger? Brent got the axe in my house when he became confused during Oklahoma’s near-touchdown in the second quarter.

    The Irish will now return home next week to become the hunted rather than the underdog. Ten years a go, an 8-0 Notre Dame team entertained a purportedly weak Boston College team, only to fall flat in an ugly 14-7  loss – and let’s not even think about 1993. This team has a different feel to it, however, and a bit more firepower as well now that Golson has come of age.

    76 Responses to “Irish Stake Their Claim in Oklahoma”

    1. This win would have trouble being more satisfying. GO IRISH!

    2. 12-0 HERE WE COME!!!

    3. best game I’ve seen as a fan of the Irish! Best coaching job as well. This staff has got our boys playing incredible football. Go Irish!

      • I kept telling my wife that the coaching staff scripted a perfect gameplan. In effect, they used their offense as defense as well by keeping Jones and the Sooner offense off the field. Great job Kelly, Diaco and company! GREAT JOB IRISH!!

    4. GREAT WIN IRISH! Enjoy it tonight! Back to work tomorrow during films! GO IRISH!

    5. Along with Miami in 88, FSU in 92, and the Cheerio Bowl, this is the BEST ND win I have seen. If you get very quiet and listen in the distance, you can hear the giant waking from its slumber.

      I love Kelly’s process approach he will need it so this team continues to get better rather than try and ride out the next three weeks before SC.

    6. Andrew in DC says:

      Haven’t been this proud to be a Fighting Irish fan in twenty years. Maybe BK really is the right guy! GO IRISH!!!

    7. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      The Irish victory this evening was a statement if ever there was one. A statement that this team is for real and that a national championship is within reach. I have been saying for week that Golson is up to the task if Kelly would only remove the kid’s training wheels. They aren’t completed off by a long stretch, but Golson was given far more freedom than he’s been given all season and he demonstrated quite clearly that he has all the tools to take this team to the promised land. The exclamation point on this victory was when Kenny Crosby Stills Nash and Dumb was denied a TD after taunting Bennett Jackson after thinking he got in for a meaningless TD and was denied a subsequent opportunity because he’s such a chump he had to cross-check Jackson to get in the end zone. Then, the cherry on top of the cake was the crushing beatdown the Irish put on the Sooners’ RB who got stood up and then clobbered. This team isn’t only great, it’s got a nasty streak that is so sweet it’s sick. One game at a time, but this was the taste of a vintage wine we haven’t tasted in forever. A fantastic team victory.

    8. Beeeeautiful!!! And to think they did it without any goons. Did you see any of the USC game? Goons!

      GO IRISH !!!

    9. TenaciousB06 says:

      diving interception…or divine interception?

    10. Beat Pitt. Don’t blow it.

    11. Jack McGee says:

      The secret to winning games is to have fun while you are learning the game day by day. Coach Kelly and his staff deserve the Teachers of the Year Award; they’ve all done a great teaching jub.

    12. if you didn’t know that Kelly was the right guy since Day 1 then I’m sorry

    13. This game belongs in a bottle, to be uncorked on a cold winters day to warm the spirits. Simply terrific, from a D that stopped, no, eliminated the run to an O that was creative, focused and remarkably capable. Kelly has a star in Golson along with talent at every position. Applause to Manti and entire D for adjustments throughout game. We’re # 1.

    14. I heard the second half on radio after watching the first half. It sounded as if in the third quarter the sooners were trying to draw retaliation with some chippy play. But ND played with poise and control throughout. Great players and great coaches.

    15. Kelly and his entire staff are excellent coaches. You could see the Irish weather the early storm and quickly get accustomed to the up-tempo pace. I thought OK was done right there. Our lines dominated them.

      I guess it was worth showing up in OK after all, although none of the talking heads predicted an ND win.

      • Looked to me like a lot of white jerseys pushing the red jerseys wherever they needed them to go.

    16. Mark Napierkowski '88 says:

      There were several articles posted this week from local OK columnists and bloggers, many of them dismissing ND as overrated, not ready for prime-time, etc. I will take great pleasure in responding to them tomorrow and early this week. OK finally ran into a team that tackles, that finishes runs, and that takes no prisoners…GO IRISH!

      • Ryan from Omaha says:

        ND is always overrated going into games, and their opponents are alway overrated afterwards. It’s the only thing that makes the trolls feel important.

        • ND could have played and beaten 8 top-25 teams this season and the pundits would still call them overrated after every win. This one was S-WEEEEEET!!!

    17. Mr. Golson: Peace with the pocket.
      ICBA: Intercontinental Ballistic Arm.

    18. I am at peace, I am happy. I am married to a woman who does not understand, but tonight it does not matter.

    19. I”ve been following Notre Dame since the days of Leahy’s “Boy’s”. I’ve seen most every game since they started televising them and this goes up there with some of the best. Kelly has proven you can get good talent to come to ND in spite of the academic requirements, and once here, he has a staff that knows how t coach them. He will go down as one of the top five before he’s finished, and I see National Championships on the horizon. Go Irish.

    20. I became a Notre Dame fan during the 07 season, it’s shameful how happy I am now.

    21. GO Irish. Major props to Kelly and the boys. Great win. Musburger was hoping OKL would put 50 on the irish, now he can take the belldozer home.

    22. This victory over Oklahoma comes on the same day, in 1973, that an underrated ND team broke the longest winning/undefeated streak held at the time by USC. That ND team eventually beat Alabama for the National Championship. I now believe this ND team will also beat Alabama for the National Championship this year. In 1973, from my biased perspective as a junior at ND, I thought that Tom Clements should have won the Heisman. Still being biased, I believe Manti should win the Heisman this year. Go Irish!

    23. Ryan from Omaha says:

      Almost wish I wasn’t out at halloween festivities so I could read all the trolls talking about how Oklahoma was “grossly overrated”.

    24. I am waiting for the apology from Rick Reilly.

    25. wow

    26. martinjordan says:

      I agree with Omalley that this is the biggest win since Miami in ’88. When notre Dame was winning all those replays I was thinking that Vince Lombardi one said “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” This team was focused and prepared!

      1. Notre Dame outgained Oklahoma 403 yards to 379 yards.
      2. Notre Dame won the time of possesion by five minutes after trailing by five minutes at half.
      3. OU had one posession in the third quarter.
      4. Golson made three or four excellent throw aways.
      5. Notre Dame’s first five plays were all runs including Woods’ long one which set the tone.
      6. Golson hit six different receivers, had 179 yards passing, NO INTERCEPTIONS, and 64 yards rushing.
      7. OU seemed frustrated that they couldn’t get any big plays.
      8. Louis Nix got his money’s worth on Notre Dame’s only penalty.
      9. ABC, Brent, and Herbie absolutely blew the coverage of that penalty and tried to blame the ref when in fact they weren’t paying attention during that whole drive.
      10. Notre Dame’s offensive and defensive lines controlled the line of scrimmage.
      11. This team seems to play better on the road.
      12. They should go into the USC game unbeaten but in 2002 they went 8 and 0 after a big road win at Florida State and then laid an egg against Boston College at home.

      • marleyman says:

        Excellent recap. I am haunted by shades of BC as well. Remember boys: Don’t listen to the noise, trust the process, love one another!

    27. Stoops or Kelly. Let me think!!!!

    28. tom hurak says:


    29. NDBonecrusher says:

      Hear that? That’s the sound of Mark May’s intestines falling out of his body and hitting the floor. I love so many things about this win it’s hard to know where to begin. But here’s just a few of my favorite things (a la Sound Of Music):

      1-I love being undefeated at the end of October.
      2-I love that OU bloggers were predicting them to hang 48 points on our D.
      3-I love winning on the road where the coach is 79-4. Oops–79-5.
      4-I love Manti Teo. The guy has the came of his career and all he wants to do is talk about his teammates and family and God. Unbelievable.
      5-I love that nobody in their right mind would dispute that ND belongs in the company of the best teams in the nation this year.
      6-I love shutting up the haters and doubters. At least for a few seconds.
      7-I love that ND ranks #1 for graduating their players. Again.
      8-I love that they brought the Band.
      9-I love the amount of Guinness I just won, not that I endorse gambling.
      10-I love that the whole Universe just feels better when my Irish are kickin’ ass.

      Enjoy! Believe! These guys are for real and they sure are Strong Of Heart. Have yourselves some Kool Aid today. GO IRISH BEAT PANTHERS!!!

    30. What happened to Cierre Wood? why didn’t he play more. Love the Irish though. need to beat the next 3 opponents. Pls. NO letdown.

    31. Love that the prognasticators are eating Irish stew this morning!!! Do I dare say I see a RG3 clone in the making?

    32. HAve been an Irish fan since I wore my first diaper in Epworth Hospital in South Bend.

      This was a classic in ND wins. It ranks up there with the put downs of the Seminoles and the canes. And this time Kelly will not let them lay an egg over the next four games.

      Irish versus the Tide in Miami for all the marbles.

    33. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      Ya got love Kenny Crosby Stills Nash and Dumb taunting B-Jack City at the end of the game thinking he got in for a meaningless touch only to have a second shot and then pushing off like a two year followed by the massive hit on the Sooner running back who got doubled over and then pancaked.

      Fasten your seat belts, put your tray tables in their locked and upright positions … because this … is special.

      Go Irish!!!!!!!!!!!

    34. KellyGruene says:

      A couple thoughts come to mind. (1) if there were a couple of stud defensive backs in, say, Arizona or California, or a stud defensive line guy in maybe New Jersey, surely they’ll take notice of a game like this; (2) how does ND manage to keep Bob Diaco in South Bend long-term? Auburn and maybe Texas are likely to be looking for new coaches soon and, just as recruits take note of wins like this, so do athletic directors.

    35. John Cochtoastin says:

      If ND wins out and Romney takes the election this will be the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny bleeping Kaye.

    36. Great Win. Hats off to the the coaches and players for a sterling performance. Cierre Wood did his best impression of GAIII on the 62yd TD scamper. This was probably one of ND’s most impressive wins since the Holtz era. I’d love to see the faces on those in the sports media who claimed OU would hang 40+ points and 500 or more yards on the Irish.

      However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the sports punditocracy tried to claim that OU is not a good team and as such, ND is still overrated. It’s a fact that ND was more dominant against OU than KSU was in their win in Norman, but some people will always look for reasons to denigrate ND.

    37. irishhawk50 says:

      Not much to add to what has already been said. The game spoke for itself. A great day for the Irish!

    38. Where is Mark May hiding?

    39. Great game for the Irish. Loved every minute of it, especially watching Stoops whine about everything. Only question I have is why didn’t Wood get more carries. I know Riddick closed it out well but seems to me that Wood should be getting the bulk of the carries. Did he get hurt? Go Irish, beat Pitt!

    40. ditto to the comments above…I have been following ND football for almost 60 years and, with everything on the line, this win ranks in my top five…

      Please learn your lesson from ’93 and ’02…..keep the pedal to the medal….No let downs!!! Pitt can be very dangerous….

      GO Irish!!

    41. Heading to the game next weekend. Can not wait for the atmosphere on campus. Watched the game, then watched it again last night.

    42. I attended the game, sitting in section 40, row 64. I think the sadiest thing I witnessed is the emptying of the stadium by OK fans after we scored with 5 min left. The game was still in doubt but the fans had given up. That is sad.

    43. Well I guess I have no choice no but to be a believer after predicting the Irish to go 8-4. Unless there is a catastrophic breakdown this should be an 11 win regular season at the very worst. I still fear USC out in LA but they are more than beatable. I just can not believe the incredible play of #5 on defense. He is having a season for the ages.

    44. Also ranks up there with Texas in Jan 78 as a complete domination of an opponent picked to destroy us.

    45. Hootie169 says:

      Turning point in the game was our teams salute to an injured OK player as he was helped off the field…just a real class act!! GO IRISH!!

    46. El Capitano says:

      Great comments here. I will just add that Diaco really impressed me with his game plan. So many times I became frustrated with the seemingly endless dink and dunk completions and found myself pleading him to tighten the coverage. But clearly he is smarter than me and earns every bit of his paycheck. The D executed the plan to perfection, not allowing the big plays. It was a masterpiece, kind of like watching Greg Maddux throw hit-able strikes at the knees all game and racking up ground out after ground out. The previous poster is right: how can we keep him in the Bend?!

    47. This is an extraordinary group of young men. They are extremely talented, and we are pretty deep in all positions now, but what really distinguishes this team is: character, intensity, strength, focus, coachability, poise. They have helped immensely in BK’s progress to what seems to be a really good coach right now. We could become more talented in the future, and still not be this good in the future — because the chemistry is exceptional right now. But that concern is for another day. Right now, like every other Domer, I am loving this ride.

    48. A few points to make:
      *Brent Musberger is quickly turning into the Harry Carey of his time. Gee, thanks Brent, for your 4th quarter announcement that the Irish are again…”relevant.”
      *I’ve never been so proud of Brian Kelly and his play calling.
      *Our defense is 100% legit. Best defense I have Ever seen at South Bend.
      *Manti T’eo has got to be on that New York stage for the Heisman. He is the classiest player in the history of college football. Loved his comment about “faith and family.”
      *Our young Eric Golson has grown up! He made a couple of miraculous escapes out of the back field that would’ve let Rees flat on his back. Great passing. Great running.
      *Special teams remains a bit of a problem, though it feels silly to knit pick after the way we just played!
      *Why didn’t Notre Dame receive any number 1 votes in the polls today? We are 8-0 like Bama and K State. I refuse to believe that those teams have played a tougher schedule then what we’ve played.
      *This is the biggest Notre Dame victory in 20 years!

    49. ElkhartIrish says:

      Having grown up in the shadow of the Golden Dome and imitating ND on our sandlot team in the fifties, I didn’t really closely follow ND until I was almost retired, as strange as that may be. I missed all the NC teams in those years. Now I think I have a chance to make up for it. Congratulations to the team and the coaches for their excellent job. Go Irish!!!

    50. SubwayAlum_2012 says:

      Great comments above; how delicious is this kool aid
      One thing i want to bring out: how about the conditioning of the irish on both sides of the ball all game. Hyper speed didnt stop them, and theos TD in the 4th was flat out us playing harder than them. Notre dame has not lost a game in the second half all season, and they have punished people in the 4th quarter with the game on the line. With as much credit going to the Diaco’s 11 man psycho-squad, how about the Strength and Conditioning coach? Notre dame has met the navy triple option, big ten defenses (i maintain they are some of the best in the land), the fun and gun from miami, and OKs light speed offense, and they have conquered them all in dominant fashion.
      To quote tom hanks from “a league of their own”…..

    51. Chris Brown…another talent in our future!

    52. I am not ashamed to admit that I was pleased to see ND players hurting OU players with hard tackles. Okwara is going to be a stud. Teo and company woot, wooting after solid hits had me celebrating in silence. I was holding my 2 month old boy during the 4th quarter.

    53. Don’t forget Tommy clutch! 3rd and seven pass for first down. Where would we have been without him?

      • Okay, enough with the Tommy Rees trumpeting already. If Golson had not been hurt, ND would have won the game regardless.

    54. I hope Diaco is the highest paid assistant in all of CFB.

    55. cork sterling says:

      A super congrats to the ND team and coach staff for their game plan strategy and execution. Thought there were enough game turning plays on both sides of the ball. Here are my key plays of the game:
      1. Woods 62 yard run to give ND the lead which really put more energy/confidence into the defense and offense.
      2. Tommy Rees 3rd down completion to keep a drive alive.
      3. Golson’s 50 yd pass to Brown.
      4. Fox’s pass deflection and Teo’s great reaction for the interception.
      5. Riddick’s nail in the coffin run.
      6. Total physical domination on both sides of the ball.
      Kelly and his staff have started to build the foundation of consistency for the ND program and hopefully they maintain it and generate legacies like Ara and Lou.
      ND will be relevant for years to come!!!

    56. george kaplan says:

      Biggest and best win since 1993. They should run the table. If Kelly can mature
      Golson in the next 4 weeks we”ll beat SC. NC would be nice but if we could just see them play hard and tough and with poise and excellence for, say, 18 years I’ll be happy.

    57. Did anyone notice Oklahoma’s big play to set up 13-13 tie was illegal? I almost had an anyeurism watching it. They called a “fake wide reciever screen” then threw downfield. Great call, if the refs don’t flag the two illegal linemen downfield. The right tackle was five yards downfield when the ball was thrown. textbook “illegal lineman downfield” penalty, in my opinion.

    58. Not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said. Best game I’ve seen since FSU in 93. Lived in Florida most of my life and I’d give ANYTHING to play the Gators or FSU this year…but we have bigger fish to fry yet. I’m so proud of this team…they have class and Te’o is the epitome of the type of kid you want at ND. I work with a girl from Hawaii and she says the whole state is proud of him. What a class act! This team is special and the defense is so much fun to watch. As for the talking heads at ESPN who gave ND no better than a 17 point loss….are they relevant now??????

      • I absolutely loved hearing Brent Musburger say, “Listen up folks. Make no mistake – the Irish are relevant again.”

    59. NDBonecrusher says:

      Back to business now.
      I live in Pittsburgh, the greatest city in the Universe. Dad went to Pitt. Me, wife, sis, etc went to ND. You would NOT BELIEVE the amount of smack that Pitt fans are talking this week! All of Pitt’s wins this year have been decisive blowouts. They have a Jekyll and Hyde personality, which makes them dangerous and difficult to prepare for. No letdowns here, guys. Play your game and you will spank Pitt by 4 touchdowns.