Coming into Saturday night's nationally televised contest between the Sooners and the Fighting Irish, the marquee match-up was Oklahoma's rushing attack vs. Notre Dame's vaunted defense. Of course it didn't live up to the hype as the Irish won this aspect of the game hands down.
Had this been a heavy weight fight, it would have been stopped. That's how bad Notre Dame dominated Oklahoma's run game. The Sooners managed to net just 15 rushing yards on 24 attempts. Granted, two bad snaps played a huge role in that paltry number but Oklahoma's backs weren't able to find any daylight anyway. Damien Williams had just 29 yards on 13 carries and fullback Trey Millard managed 11 yards on three carries. The run game just wasn't there for the Sooners.
Let's put the credit squarely where it belongs, on the shoulders of the Notre Dame front seven. They completely dominated the line of scrimmage and physically beat the Sooners all night. In fact, they beat Oklahoma so bad up front that they were able to play a safety over the top of Kenny Stills for most of the night and essentially removed him as a factor in the game.
The lack of a rushing game put more pressure on Oklahoma's passing game. Landry Jones was 35-of-51 for 299 yards but threw no touchdowns and had an interception. I don't fault Jones for the pick, or for not being able to get the ball into the end zone. Notre Dame basically took every threat away from him except for Jalen Saunders and the backs coming out of the backfield.
Saunders was really the lone bright spot on the night for the offense. He caught eight passes in the first quarter alone, setting an Oklahoma record, and then he tied Ryan Broyles' single game receptions record with 15 catches for 181 yards.
The story of the night for Oklahoma's offense can be summed up by the first drive. The Sooners moved from their own 12 to the Notre Dame 46 in the first five plays of the game, averaging 8.4 yards per play. Then, on the sixth play of the game, center Gabe Ikard snapped the ball while Jones was checking down the play. The Sooners went from a promising first and ten at the Irish 46 to second and twenty-nine from their own 35. There are several things that can factor into a center making a mistake like that, with the guy lined up across from him being one of the. Talk about a drive killer!
That's how the night went for Oklahoma's offense. Promising drives stalled out, penalties negated big plays and the Irish defensive line had their way. The Sooners don't have a bad offense in any way, shape or form. There's a ton of talent and speed for Oklahoma on that side of the ball. However, on Saturday night, Notre Dame had even more talent of the defensive side of the ball.