By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish this week face perhaps their biggest test of the season so far.
Notre Dame hits the road to Norman, Okla. to take on No. 8 Oklahoma.
And even though the 7-0 Irish enter the game with the higher ranking, they will be a 10-point underdog against the Sooners.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly looks at the Sooners and sees them in a place he wants his team to be.
The Sooners (5-1) are 79-4 at home under Bob Stoops.
“That’s where we want to be,” Kelly said. “We want that consistency. Year in and year out you know Oklahoma is going to be part of the conversation. And that’s where we want to get our football program. We’re no where near that yet. We think we’re moving in the right direction. We’re trending the right way. But I think the hallmark of great programs is that consistency, the consistency that we saw here for a number of years that we haven’t seen, we want to be able to bring that back. And that takes time. And that takes a lot of winning. And that’s why there’s so much pride and tradition in their program as well.”
After sitting out last week’s game against BYU as he recovered from a concussion suffered the previous week against Stanford, sophomore quarterback Everett Golson will return to the starting lineup Saturday night against Oklahoma — on the road, in a prime-time, nationally televised game.
Kelly has no qualms about sending Golson out in the hostile environment.
“I just think he’s a more confident player,” Kelly said. “He’s excited about playing against Oklahoma, and we expect him to play well.”
Kelly said one key to victory for his team will be pressuring Sooner quarterback Landry Jones.
That was part of the recipe Kansas State used to defeat Oklahoma, 24-19 in Week 3.
“I can tell you if he’s in a rhythm like most good quarterbacks, he’s going to be difficult to beat,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to blitz every guy when we get off the bus, but there’s certainly going to be a way we’re going to have to disrupt his timing a little bit. And hopefully we can do it by putting him in some predictable passing situation. So it’s pretty clear. This is a very talented player that if he gets on a roll and set his feet every play, you’re in for a long day.”
Stoops expects the matchup of his offensive line against the Irish’s defensive front seven to be critical.
“It’ll be difficult,” Stoops said during his weekly press conference earlier this week. “They’re very good, very physical in how they play up front. I do feel good in that our guys have really played great through the year here. Hopefully, we’ll be able to execute.”