On the Notre Dame–Oklahoma betting front, the spread has now grown from eight up to twelve points against the Irish. On the boob tube, only former Notre Dame coach, Lou Holtz, has predicted the Irish to beat the Sooners, and since Holtz has only picked against the Irish once in his entire career at ESPN—when Notre Dame played South Florida, coached by his son Skip—that wasn’t exactly a surprise.
As for my fellow RANT writers, only one, M. Shannon “Woody” Smallwood, took the risk this week to side with the Irish.
Well, if “Woody” can step out and befriend Notre Dame, just call me “Buzz Lightyear”…
Indeed, the reasons to pick against the Irish tonite are legion. For starters, if I had a nickel for every prognosticator who mentioned that Oklahoma has averaged over 50 points (44.7 for the season) in its last three games, I would be a rich sportswriter.
Of course, if it was only Oklahoma’s fifth-ranked scoring offense against Notre Dame’s second-ranked scoring defense (only 9.4 points-per-game allowed) I think a few more talking heads would give the Irish a shot. But it’s not.
Instead, most figure the mismatch will come when Notre Dame’s 76th-ranked scoring offense (not to mention its 98th-ranked passing game) goes against the Sooners’ 12th-ranked (and ninth- against the pass) scoring defense. And at this point, since probably only Everett Golson’s mother would take the Irish starting quarterback over the Sooners’ Heisman-hopeful QB Landry Jones, it’s not a stretch to give Oklahoma the edge there.
If Notre Dame has a slight hope, it is when its improving, 38th-ranked rushing game, goes up against the just “okay” 46th-ranked Oklahoma rushing defense. Unfortunately, Notre Dame’s standout three-headed rushing monster has been reduced to two, with George Atkinson III out with the flu. But the remaining two backs, Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, have been begging for more carries—and now they just happen to have a primetime opportunity to prove they deserve it.
Analysis: If Golson can keep from turning the ball over, the Irish have a shot. Still, Notre Dame’s veteran offensive line must not only limit the sacks but the false start penalties in order for the Irish backs to not only run to daylight, but paydirt. For it is expecting too much for this Notre Dame defense to duplicate the shutout effort of the 1957 Irish squad in its upset of the Sooners—even though they will come close.
Prediction: The Sooners will score three times, and the Irish only two. But with a highly-charged, election-year Month of the Rosary drawing to its dramatic conclusion, and the game also being played on the eve of the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude (the latter the patron saint of lost causes), it seems that math, Manti (Te’o) and Mary (Our Lady) all align in Notre Dame’s favor.
Final Score: Notre Dame 10, Oklahoma 9.