SOUTH BEND — After Notre Dame’s 17-14 escape from its “trap” game Saturday against BYU, the expression used the most by players and coaches afterwards to describe the victory was ‘It wasn’t pretty, but …’.
But it was a win and the Irish faithful will take it, a sterling 7-0 record, and the No. 5 national ranking that goes with being one of only 11 unbeatens left in college football.
The most important thing this week for ND is to break one of Brian Kelly’s rules – the 24-hour rule. The head coach wants his players to celebrate all victories, but only for 24 hours; after that, it’s time to focus on the next opponent. Well, up next is 8th-ranked Oklahoma and it will be played in Norman.
So please, celebrate that your defense had its sixth straight game holding the opponent to less than 300 total yards, the longest such streak since 1983. Be proud about 38 consecutive quarters of not allowing a rushing touchdown. Go crazy about allowing only 66 points total, the best seven-game total since ’76. Party like it’s 2002 (Ty Willingham’s first season), when ND started 8-0.
Enjoy the good feelings as long as you can because reality hits Saturday. College GameDay will be there again (is ESPN following ND until they lose?), but Lee Corso will not be donning the leprechaun outfit this time, nor should he. One of Kelly’s quotes after the BYU game was, “I didn’t sense a great feeling after winning, (but BYU’s) a darned good football team There are a lot of teams that have made their programs on winning 7-6 and 13-7. It’s just who we are.”
Who art thou? Thou art an average team with a great defense that has played a mediocre schedule. Before the season — before most seasons — the Irish schedule looked daunting. But the truth is, the teams this year are not very good. Of the teams played so far, only three are over .500. Navy barely is at 4-3 and Michigan is not a good Wolverine team. True, Oklahoma has only played a trio of teams over .500 too, but they are 4th-ranked Kansas State, 15th-ranked Texas Tech, and Texas, who was ranked 15th when the Sooners easily dispatched of them. They are a combined 18-3 with two of the losses against Oklahoma.
OU has scored over 50 points three times, over 60 twice. They hung 63 on Texas. There is a good reason the lower ranked Sooners are 10 ½ point favorites this weekend. A more interesting bet would be if the over/under for quarterbacks used by Notre Dame is 2.
On paper this should be a great game. On the field though, the Sooners should easily cover the spread and ND fans should cover their eyes. It will not be pretty.