- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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As always, thanks to ESPN Stats & Info and sports information departments for these stats:
Entering his first start on Sept. 14, Blake Bell had thrown 26 passes and rushed for 24 touchdowns. He had averaged one rushing touchdown every 1.7 carries in goal-to-go situations, which was the best ratio in the FBS among active players with at least 15 such rushes. Against Tulsa, Bell completed 73 percent of his passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns. He set a school record for the most passing yards by an Oklahoma quarterback in his first career start, and posted a 96.7 Total QBR. When looking just at passing plays, Bell had a Total QBR of 99.1, the second-highest QBR on passing plays for an Oklahoma quarterback in the last 10 seasons behind only Sam Bradford, who had a 99.3 against Baylor in 2008.
With Bell at quarterback, the Sooners averaged 4.6 points per drive against Tulsa, which was their highest mark over the past five seasons. Their offense also added about 33 expected points toward their 31-point margin of victory, the third-most expected points added for the Sooners offense over the past five years. In one start, Bell has thrown as many touchdowns (four) as Trevor Knight had in his first two starts of the season.
Oklahoma’s offense is averaging 7.1 yards per play with Bell as its quarterback, compared to 5.4 yards per play with Knight under center. Bell gave the Sooners a downfield-passing threat. Bell has completed 40 percent of his passes thrown 15 yards or longer, including two touchdowns against Tulsa. That is right on par with the AQ average on such throws (40 percent). In comparison, Knight had completed 1-of-14 passes thrown 15 yards or more with no touchdowns and two interceptions before getting injured in Week 3 against West Virginia.
Last week against Michigan State, Tommy Rees completed just three of a career-high 17 passes thrown 15 yards or longer downfield with nine overthrows. Entering that game, Rees had completed 14-of-28 passes of 15 yards or longer and had seven overthrown passes.
Oklahoma opponents have completed 4-of-17 passes (23.5 percent) thrown 15 yards or more this season, and the Sooners have allowed the fourth-lowest completion percentage (27 percent) since the start of the 2012 season among AQ schools.
Since 2009, Oklahoma lost eight games to teams it had the opportunity to play the following season. Oklahoma won all eight rematches and scored at least 40 points in five of those games.
Oklahoma is 1-9 all-time against the Irish. There are only two schools the Sooners have a losing record against who they have played at least 10 times -- Notre Dame (.100 win percentage) and Texas (.425). This is OU’s first trip to South Bend since 1999.
Entering the BCS Championship Game last season, the Notre Dame defense allowed just nine total touchdowns -- seven through the air. Through four games this season, they have already allowed 10 touchdowns -- eight of the passing variety.
Notre Dame, which finished last season second in the FBS in scoring defense, has had trouble getting off the field on third down this season. On third-and-7 or more, opponents are converting 36.7 percent of the time, which ranks 113th among FBS schools.
Notre Dame has won its last 10 home games dating back to 2011. The Irish are 4-1 all-time against the Sooners in South Bend, with Oklahoma's lone win coming in 1956.
The Sooners' defense has allowed just 27 total points in three games -- all against FBS teams. The only team to allow fewer than Oklahoma’s 9.0 ppg to FBS opponents this season is Louisville (6.7).
With 152 wins at Oklahoma, Bob Stoops is just five behind Barry Switzer for most in program history (157).
2dBrandon Chatmon and Jake Trotter