The Notre Dame Fighting Irish went into Norman, Okla., Saturday night and picked up a massive 30-13 win over the Oklahoma Sooners. In the process, Notre Dame gained 403 yards, including 215 on the ground. Oklahoma fans are pointing to the Sooner defense as the main reason the Irish were able to leave town with a victory.
Jordan Esco, writer for Crimson and Cream Machine, SB Nation's Oklahoma blog, finds that the Sooners failed at three key defensive tasks: winning the turnover battle, stopping the Irish run game and containing Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. As far as turnovers were concerned, Esco was disappointed in the Sooners' inability to make plays:
The issue here isn't that Oklahoma had the game's lone turnover, but that they never even came close to forcing one from a redshirt freshman quarterback playing in the biggest game of his young career on your own home field. The OU defense never came close to pressuring Golson or forcing him into poor decisions with the football.
Against the Notre Dame rushing attack, Oklahoma allowed one big play, but according to Esco, the large amount of smaller plays really hurt the Sooners:
Yes, they really only had that one big play in the Cierre Wood 62-yard touchdown run. But it wasn't about that one play as much as it was the multiple long, sustained drives they had as a result of the four, five, or six yard plays. The Irish offense was constantly on and/or ahead of schedule with respect to the chains and we cannot stress enough how big a difference that made in this game.
Golson was able to gain 177 yards through the air and 64 yards on the ground. Esco believes he was able to keep too many plays alive for the Irish, which Oklahoma's defense knew it couldn't allow if it was going to have a decent chance at victory:
Golson made plays all night long with his legs and while they weren't of the game-breaking variety, but they were more like the death by a tiny little cuts variety if you'll allow for the poor attempt at a metaphor. Whether he was scrambling away from what little pressure Oklahoma was able to manage or converting third down after third down, Golson was about as close to perfect (barring the Tony Jefferson kill shot) as I suspect any Notre Dame fan could have hoped for in this game.
Next up for Oklahoma is a road game at Iowa State Saturday, Nov. 3.