NORMAN — The last time Oklahoma experienced heartbreak at the hands of Notre Dame most of its players were in the very early stages of elementary school.
Nonetheless, the current crop of Sooners joined that group Saturday when they learned that tangling with the Fighting Irish doesn’t typically go well.
No. 8 OU’s 30-13 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame might not have been as lopsided as the score suggests. What couldn’t be refuted, however, was that for the second time this season the Sooners got into a four-quarter slugfest with a really good team and was floored.
Much like the Sooners’ loss to Kansas State on Sept. 22, the Fighting Irish (8-0) did nothing perplexing. They ran the ball (39 times for 215 yards), played great defense and leaned on OU all night.
The Sooners finally tipped in the final seven minutes.
That was when Notre Dame ran off 17 points to turn a razor-tight game into the Sooners’ ninth loss to the Fighting Irish in 10 tries, dating back to 1952.
“Notre Dame flat-out beat us, “ OU quarterback Landry Jones said. “You can’t beat around the bush after a game like that.”
Jones threw for 356 yards, and Jalen Saunders had 15 receptions for 181, but the offense consistently bogged down in the red zone.
Eventually, the Fighting Irish imposed their will.
They completely shut down the Sooners’ running game. Damien Williams led OU with 29 yards on 13 carries. OU averaged 0.6 yards on 24 attempts.
Notre Dame had no problem running the ball. In addition to all the yards, all three Irish scores came on the ground.
The rushing dominance became obvious midway through the first quarter. After OU had taken an early lead on Michael Hunnicutt’s 28-yard field goal, the Irish answered with a 62-yard touchdown run from Cierre Wood less than a minute later to take a 7-3 lead.