OKLAHOMA SOONERS (3-0)
at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (3-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma -3, Total: 49.5
No. 14 Oklahoma looks to make up for last season’s loss in Norman as they head to South Bend to take on No. 22 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Last season, the two teams were tied at 13 with 5:05 left before Notre Dame scored the final 17 points of the game. The biggest reason for the Irish victory was their terrific job against the Sooners rushing attack (24 carries for 15 yards). However, this is not the same Notre Dame defense as last season, and QB Blake Bell has the Oklahoma offense rolling right now. In a 51-20 victory over Tulsa in their last game two weeks ago, Bell threw for a career-high 423 yards and showed that he is more than just the “Belldozer.” His favorite target in that game was WR Sterling Shepard, who finished with 123 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Sooners are not the only offense in this game that has been able to throw the ball as QB Tommy Rees has Notre Dame’s offense rolling as well. With Everett Golson suspended due to academics, it was expected that the Fighting Irish offense would slip. However, Rees along with DaVaris Daniels and TJ Jones have formed one of the most dynamic offenses in the country. Against Purdue, Daniels grabbed eight catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-tying touchdown. The key matchup in this game will be Oklahoma CB Aaron Colvin matched up against the receiving corps. Bob Stoops is 12-4 ATS (75%) when the line is +3 to -3 as the coach of Oklahoma, but Brian Kelly is 10-1 ATS (91%) after his teams gains 125 rushing yards or less in two straight games as a college head coach.
Which perennial powerhouse will prevail on Saturday? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The experts continue to flourish in their college football Best Bets this season with a combined 56% ATS mark (39-31-1), highlighted by StatFox Gary's perfect 5-0-1 ATS mark over his past two weeks and 67% ATS record (6-3-1) this year. StatFox Brian is 60% ATS (9-6) in college football Best Bets this season while StatFox Scott is at 58% ATS (11-8) after a 3-1 ATS showing last week.
While Michigan State has a very good defense, their offense is absolutely abysmal. They allowed a subpar Notre Dame defense to look a lot better than it really is last week. That will not be the case with the Sooners however, as they are once again one of the premier offenses in the country. Through four weeks, the Sooners rank 16th in the country with 272 rushing yards per game. Brennan Clay has led them on the ground, averaging 87.3 yards per game while scoring two rushing touchdowns. The offense is once again explosive, but the Sooners appear to be playing the type of defense that Oklahoma did in the early 2000’s. In three games, the Sooners have given up just nine points per game, ranking fifth in the country. With Aaron Colvin, they have one of the elite cornerbacks in the country. With Julian Wilson on the other side, the Sooners have the guys that can match up with the Notre Dame receivers. If Jordan Phillips and the rest of the Oklahoma defensive line are able to get pressure on Rees, then there is a good chance that the Sooners will be able to get the victory. If not, then Notre Dame could once again pull off a SU upset.
Notre Dame currently heads into its game against Oklahoma with 13 straight home victories. While it has not been pretty the past two weeks, the Fighting Irish made enough plays late in both games to beat Purdue and Michigan State. Junior RB Amir Carlisle is starting to give Notre Dame a solid rushing attack to complement their high-flying passing attack. Against Michigan State, the Fighting Irish were called for eight penalties, totaling 86 yards. They must play mistake-free football if they want to get their third straight victory, and the defense needs to force more turnovers than its four takeaways in four games this year. Notre Dame's run defense has been pretty strong this season, holding opponents to 114 yards per game on 3.7 yards per carry.