Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Notre Dame-Oklahoma Preview

Notre Dame QB's: After sitting out the game against BYU due to a concussion, Everett Golson returns as starting quarterback for Notre Dame. Golson has completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 968 yards, and has 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Golson has also rushed for 81 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground as well. Tommy Rees started the game against BYU, and was solid in the first quarter, but after that, completed only a single pass for the rest of the game and the team only attempted 3 passes in the entire second half. Rees has also played in every game but the opener this season, and only missed the opener due to a suspension. He has completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 335 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had a 2 yard rushing touchdown in the game against Michigan after relieving Golson early on, and has come into relief at varying points this season. Andrew Hendrix came in for all of 2 plays against BYU, but has appeared in 2 games overall this season. He has completed 5 of 6 passes for 55 yards, and also has 34 rushing yards as well.

Notre Dame QB's vs. Oklahoma Pass Defense: The Sooners are currently 9th in the nation in pass defense, they have allowed opponents to complete just 51.9 percent of their passes for 164.3 yards a game and have also only allowed 3 passing touchdowns and have intercepted 8 passes on the season as well. Golson gives the Irish the best shot overall against the Sooners and will need to use his ability to extend plays as needed to give the Irish a shot in defeating Oklahoma, as this is one of the best pass defenses that Notre Dame will face this season. The other big factor is how well Golson has recovered from this concussion has it was a game-time decision against BYU that led to backup Tommy Rees getting the start and Golson being sidelined the whole game.

Edge: Oklahoma

Oklahoma QB's: Landry Jones is in his 4th year in a row as starting quarterback. The 4-year starter has completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 1,643 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He also hasn't been the only quarterback to play either as backup Blake Bell has completed 7 of 12 passes to have a 58.3 completion percentage and has 82 passing yards. However, Bell is more dangerous on the ground with with a team leading 8 rushing touchdowns with 59 rushing yards on 31 carries. Bell gives the Sooners an additional option and is used at the goal line often.

Oklahoma QB's vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense: Notre Dame is currently ranked 14th overall in pass defense and is allowing opponents to complete only 54.7 percent of their passes and are allowing 174 yards a game. 5 of the 6 touchdowns that Notre Dame opponents have scored all season were passing touchdowns. The Irish have allowed 5 passing touchdowns and have intercepted 12 passes as well this season. Landry Jones is the best quarterback the Irish will face this season so far, and Notre Dame will also need to account for Blake Bell when he comes in as well. It ought to be one of the most interesting matchups to keep an eye on the game.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame RB's: Theo Riddick is coming off his best game ever as a Notre Dame Football player, as he had the two longest runs of his career and along with Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III, carried Notre Dame to victory over BYU. Riddick has 451 rushing yards on 95 carries for a 4.7 average, and also has 3 rushing touchdowns. Cierre Wood has been quite consistent for the Irish as well, and has 393 rushing yards on 65 carries for 6 yards a carry, and has 2 touchdowns as well. George Atkinson III scored the game-winning touchdown over BYU and has 301 rushing yards on 37 carries for an 8.1 average, and leads the team overall with 4 touchdowns as well. Cam McDaniel has seen playing time generally late in games, but has 114 rushing yards on 20 carries for a 5.7 average, and he also has 1 rushing touchdown as well.

Notre Dame RB's vs. Oklahoma Rush Defense: Oklahoma is currently the 49th ranked team in terms of rushing defense. They allowing opponents to have just 3.8 yards a carry, allow 139.8 rushing yards a game, and have allowed 5 rushing touchdowns as well. Notre Dame was able to wear BYU down with the running game, even though BYU had a top 5 run defense going into this game. The Irish need to establish the run early against Oklahoma to gain further advantage in this game, and if they control the clock and keep the ball away from Oklahoma's offense, it would be very significant in determining the result of this game.

Edge: Notre Dame

Oklahoma RB's: Damien Williams is the leading rusher for the Sooners with 552 rushing yards on 74 carries for an impressive 7.5 average, 7 rushing touchdowns, and has a long of 95 yards on a rush. Dominique Whaley may not have as many touchdowns, but he does have 241 rushing yards on 38 carries for a 6.3 average and has 1 rushing touchdown. Brennan Clay has 211 rushing yards on 29 carries and 3 touchdowns. Trey Millard has 14 carries for 109 rushing yards and has a 7.8 average, but also has made an impact in the catching game with 13 catches for 201 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a long of 73 yards on a reception. Blake Bell may be a quarterback, but also has his impact on the running game as previously noted.

Oklahoma RB's vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense: The Irish are ranked 15th in the nation in run defense, and are allowing 106.7 yards a game and holding opponents to 3.4 yards a carry and are the only team to not allow a rushing touchdown so far this season. This is in part to a deep and strong front seven that is headlined by many players such as Manti Te'o, Stephon Tuitt, and Louis Nix III. Oklahoma has been really good on the ground with 20 total rushing touchdowns this season and 3 of the top 4 rushers (Williams, Clay, and Millard) all have yards per carry above 7 yards. This can prove to be dangerous as Oklahoma is able to run the ball at will as the team averages 199.8 rushing yards a game and a backup quarterback can punch the ball in if needed as well.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame WR's and TE's: Tyler Eifert has had the ball come his way more often in recent games and has a team-leading 319 receiving yards on 19 receptions and also has a team-leading 3 receiving touchdowns. TJ Jones is having his best season at Notre Dame with 275 receiving yards on 21 receptions (leads team) and 2 touchdowns as well. Davaris Daniels has 14 catches for 231 receiving yards, Robby Toma has 118 receiving yards on 12 catches, and Troy Niklas has 68 receiving yards on 4 receptions.

Notre Dame WR's vs. Oklahoma DB's: The Sooners are a top 10 pass defense and are in part to players such as Javon Harris, who has a team-leading 4 interceptions, and Aaron Colvin who has 2 interceptions and 6 pass breakups. Eifert is coming off a game where he had 4 receptions for 73 yards and 1 touchdown. Notre Dame would be wise to line up Eifert up in various spots and use his size to go up and get it, or even is a decoy and utilize players like TJ Jones and Davaris Daniels. This is one of the best pass defenses, if not the best pass defense that the Irish will face this season.

Edge: Oklahoma

Oklahoma WR's and TE's: Kenny Stills leads the Sooners with 38 receptions for 471 yards and 4 touchdowns. Justin Brown has 23 catches for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns, Sterling Shepard has 19 receptions for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he is also a freshman on top of that. Trey Metoyer has 13 catches for 108 yards and 1 touchdown.

Oklahoma WR's vs. Notre Dame DB's: Oklahoma ought to give the Notre Dame secondary a major challenge as one of the most talented receiving units is boosted by a talented quarterback as well. The secondary will need to step up their game and shut down the Oklahoma receiving unit as Notre Dame has held 6 of 7 opponents below 200 passing yards, with the only opponent breaking the 200 mark having just 201. However, Landry Jones and the Oklahoma receivers will be the biggest test yet for the Notre Dame secondary.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame OL: The Irish have been good in the run blocking area as the team is averaging 194 rushing yards a game, opponents have been able to get into the backfield as they have allowed 35 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, and 20 quarterback hurries as well. There have been some consistency issues and some players have been flagged for false starts quite a bit as well.

Notre Dame OL vs. Oklahoma DL: Chuka Ndulue is the leader in sacks for the Sooners with 2.5 as the Sooners have 13 sacks and 31 tackles for loss this season and the team has 17 quarterback hurries as well. The line will need to stay consistent, keep up the good job in opening holes for the running game, protect Golson, and avoid penalties as well.

Edge: Even

Oklahoma OL: The offensive line has done a good job this season, and has only allowed 9 sacks and 29 tackles for loss while also doing a great job in run blocking as Oklahoma is averaging 199.8 rushing yards as well. This unit features 3 upperclassmen as starters, with the others being redshirt So. as
well. The unit is clearly a very experienced unit up front.

Oklahoma OL vs. Notre Dame DL: The Oklahoma offensive line is a great unit, but they face a defensive line of Notre Dame that also is a great unit as well. Stephon Tuitt is having a very impressive season with a team-leading 8 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, and 8 quarterback hurries. Tuitt isn't the only player on the defensive line who is doing well as Louis Nix III anchors the line at nose tackle and Kapron Lewis-Moore had a great game against BYU. Notre Dame has done a great job in getting into the opponents backfield with 33 quarterback hurries, 33 tackles for loss and 19 sacks on the season.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame DL: The defensive line has been quite dominant this season and is in part to Stephon Tuitt. He has been a huge factor in the pass rush and has a defensive line-leading 28 tackles, 8 tackles for loss (leads team), 8 sacks (leads team), 8 quarterback hurries (tied for 1st overall), a fumble recovery for a touchdown, 1 forced fumble, and 1 blocked kick. The only thing he has yet to do is intercept a pass or cause a safety. Louis Nix plugs up the middle and has 26 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 3 quarterback hurries, and 1 forced fumble. Kapron Lewis-Moore has 23 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup, and 6 quarterback hurries as well. Many other players see solid amounts of playing time such as Sheldon Day, Tony Springmann, and Kona Schwenke.

Notre Dame DL vs. Oklahoma OL: The Oklahoma offensive line will be one of the best that Notre Dame faces, the Irish had some issues in the pass rush, but have since rebounded after a slump earlier this season. They need to keep this up as Oklahoma only has allowed 9 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, and 10 quarterback hurries. However, Notre Dame will most likely have the best defensive line that Oklahoma faces all season.

Edge: Even

Oklahoma DL: Stacy McGee, a senior defensive tackle, has been reinstated for the Sooners after sitting out the first 6 games for a suspension that was due to a violation of university rules. Chuka Ndulue leads the defensive lineman with 24 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 3 quarterback hurries. RJ Washington has 22 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass break up, and 3 quarterback hurries. Jamarkus McFarland has 17 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 quarterback hurries. Casey Walker has 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 fumble recovery that went for 45 yards.

Oklahoma DL vs. Notre Dame OL: The defensive line features many seniors in the 2-deep and with the addition of a reinstated player makes them deep and experienced at the same time. They face an offensive line that has to stay consistent, but does a good job with the run blocking. However, this should be an even matchup as no player that Oklahoma has seems to have accumulated a lot of sacks so far this season.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame LB's: The linebacker unit is a deep unit that it led by Manti Te'o. Te'o is the heart of the defense and the team overall, and has 69 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 4 quarterback hurries, and 2 fumble recoveries. He is considered one of the top candidates for the Heisman trophy and is having his best season yet as a Notre Dame Football player. Dan Fox is having a solid season and has 33 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup, and 2 quarterback hurries. Despite missing the first game of the season that was due to a suspension, Carlo Calabrese is 6th overall in tackles at 29, and also has 1 tackle for loss and 0.5 sacks. Prince Shembo has done well, and especially at quarterback pressure and has 28 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 8 quarterback hurries. Danny Spond has had a strong impact after missing the first 2 games of the season with injury, and has 23 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 2 pass breakups. The unit is deep and many have seen playing time in every game this season.

Notre Dame LB's vs. Oklahoma: The linebackers will have to help keep the running backs in check, as most of the top running backs have yards per carry that exceeds 7 yards. If they keep them in check, while also helping shut down the passing game, it will be vital, but the Sooners are quite dangerous on the ground with multiple running backs all able to get carries. This will be quite an interesting matchup to keep an eye on, and shutting down the Oklahoma running game is as important as shutting down the passing game.

Edge: Even

Oklahoma LB's: Tom Wort is 3rd overall on the team in tackles with 26, and he also has 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup, 1 quarterback hurry, and 2 forced fumbles. Corey Nelson has 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 pass breakups, and 2 quarterback hurries. Aaron Franklin has 19 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack. Frank Shannon has 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack on the season.

Oklahoma LB's vs. Notre Dame: The Irish were able to wear down BYU's defense by running the ball, and they had 2 running backs break the 100 yard mark on rushing yards. Oklahoma will have to account for 3 running backs that get used regularly, as Notre Dame would be wise to establish the run early on, and use that to their advantage as well. It ought to be an interesting matchup to see if the Irish continue to run the ball often after they ran it for 270 rushing yards on BYU and had 6.3 yards a rush too against the then 3rd ranked run defense.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame DB's: The defensive backs of Notre Dame continue to be one of the biggest surprises of the season as they have held 6 of their 7 opponents this season under 200 passing yards, with the most being allowed in a single game being just 201. This is despite 3 season ending injuries with 2 happening before the season even started and having players converted from the offense starting. Zeke Motta has provided a veteran presence in the secondary with 40 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup. Bennett Jackson has been having a really good season so far with 30 tackles, 4 interceptions, 1 pass breakup and a fumble recovery. KeiVarae Russell is also been a surprise considering that he is a true freshman and was converted over from running back. He has 29 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 pass breakup. Matthias Farley has also been good with 23 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 interception.

Notre Dame DB's vs. Oklahoma WR's: This ought to be one of the best receiving units that Notre Dame faces this season, and they must succeed in shutting down the receivers of Oklahoma. By doing so, it will continue to show how much of an impact the unit has had, and also be a factor in future games this season as well. Shutting down Kenny Stills, Justin Brown, and Sterling Shepard will be important, but also know that the running backs play a role in the catching game as well. It seems like quite a few players to account for on top of the Oklahoma running game, but it is absolutely vital that the Notre Dame secondary continues to keep up the pace in shutting down passing games this season.

Edge: Even

Oklahoma DB's: Safety Tony Jefferson leads the team in tackles with 48 overall, and has 2 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 1 pass breakup. Javon Harris is 2nd overall in tackles with 34, and has 1 tackle for loss, 4 interceptions with 1 being returned for a touchdown this season, and has 2 pass breakups. Aaron Colvin is 4th overall in the tackle area and has 24 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 6 pass breakups. Demontre Hurst has 22 tackles, 2 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery. Gabe Lynn has 14 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss as well this season.

Oklahoma DB's: The Sooners have had one of the pass defenses in the country and face a team that has one of the best tight ends who has been targeted more often in the last couple games. Accounting for Tyler Eifert will be important as he is a big target, good at catching passes in the endzone, and he also attracts a large amount of coverage. This can be a benefit for Notre Dame as it means that the coverage won't focus as much on other players and open things up in the passing and running game even. Regardless, the Oklahoma secondary has a good edge in this matchup and the Irish will need to be able to pass when needed in order to succeed, take pressure off the running game, and keep the defense honest.

Edge: Oklahoma

Notre Dame Kicking Game: Kyle Brindza has had a decent season, and had a period where he went 10-11, but is 11-15 overall this season and missed 2 field goals in the previous game (but made the last one). Ben Turk is averaging 40.9 yards a punt with a long of 53. He also has 1 touchback, 10 were fair caught, 8 inside the 20, and 6 punts of 50 or more yards. Kyle Brindza is also the kickoff specialist and is averaging 62.6 yards a kickoff and has 18 touchbacks this season.

Oklahoma Kicking Game: Mike Hunnicutt is of 8 of 9 in field goals with the only miss being a blocked kick. He has made 8 in a row after having that first one blocked against UTEP early this season. Tress Way is the punter and is averaging 43.2 yards a punt with a long of 71. 2 of his punts have gone for touchbacks, 5 were fair caught, 8 were inside the 20, and 5 were of 50 or more yards. However, he has also had 1 punt blocked this season. Two players have seen time in the kickoff area, Patrick O'Hara has a 63.8 yard average on 28 kickoffs and 13 have been touchbacks. Mike Hunnicutt has a 62.6 yard average on 18 kickoffs and 6 were touchbacks.

Stronger Unit: Even

Notre Dame Return Game: George Atkinson III has not had as strong of a season in returning kicks as he did last season. He has returned 8 kickoffs for 155 yards for a 19.4 yard average and a long of 32. Cam McDaniel also had 1 return back against Purdue for 25 yards. Davonte Neal has returned 12 punts for 34 yards. The return game has not done as well this season in the kickoff area, while the numbers for punt returns can be seen as an improvement.

Oklahoma Return Game: Roy Finch has returned 6 kickoffs for 214 yards, has a 35.7 yard average, and has a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown as well. Clay Brennan has returned 6 kickoffs for 178 yards and is averaging 29.7 yards a return with a long of 42. Justin Brown has been the primary punt returner this season with 16 punts returned for 304 yards and is averaging an amazing 19 yards a return, and has a punt return for a touchdown as well. The return game of Oklahoma has been quite a strength for them this season.

Stronger Unit: Oklahoma

Everything Else: Notre Dame is coming off a close win over BYU where they started a backup quarterback who was solid in the first quarter, but completed only one pass for the remaining 3 quarters of the game. However, Tommy Rees, said backup, goes back to the bench with Everett Golson resuming his position as starting quarterback for Notre Dame. The Irish will need him to make plays in the air when needed, on the ground as well, and help extend plays. Notre Dame would be wise to lean on their running game as they did against BYU and use Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, and George Atkinson III often in the ground game. If Notre Dame can establish the run and control the clock to keep Oklahoma's offense on the bench, it would be very significant to prevent the defense from tiring out. Oklahoma has one of the best home-field advantages in the entire nation and the game is a prime-time game on top of that. Shutting down the Oklahoma offense will be absolutely important if Notre Dame is to win this game.

Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Oklahoma 16

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