Oklahoma Sooners: Manti Te'o

SoonerNation's Jake Trotter and GigEmNation's Sam Khan Jr. give their thoughts on the AT&T Cotton Bowl matchup between Oklahoma (10-2) and Texas A&M (10-2).

1. What's your initial reaction to the matchup?
OU-Florida in the Sugar would have been one of the best matchups of any bowl outside the title game. But this one is about as good. The Sooners get a chance to face off against the Heisman favorite in Johnny "Football" Manziel, which probably means OU will have seen the top three Heisman contenders (Manziel, Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o and Kansas State QB Collin Klein). The Sooners will have to play well, because A&M is one of the hottest teams in college football, coming off that win at Alabama.

2. Which team in the Big 12 does Texas A&M most resemble?
Can I say A&M? I mean, they were in the Big 12 just last year. If I had to compare them to someone currently in the Big 12, I'd probably say Oklahoma State. A&M's offensive line is tremendous, and Manziel has several playmakers to work with. Manziel is obviously more mobile than anyone OSU has, but the Cowboys present the dual-threat attack with Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh. That's where the comparisons end. Because the Aggies are much more formidable defensively than the Pokes with Damontre Moore, who is tied for third nationally with 12 1/2 sacks.

3. What's the most intriguing individual matchup?
Mike Stoops vs. Manziel. Stoops has struggled game-planning against prolific, mobile quarterbacks this season, and Manziel figures to be his biggest challenge yet. Will Stoops go back to the dime package, or will he use linebackers Frank Shannon and Corey Nelson to spy Manziel? Either way, Manziel poses plenty of problems for a defense that's been gashed late in the season.

4. Who's the most important player no one's talking about?
How about Landry Jones? All the focus will be on Manziel, and for good reason. But I'm not so sure there's an advantage at QB. Jones has been on fire the last month of the season, throwing for 500 yards twice. Jones is susceptible to interceptions. But lately, he hasn't allowed those plays to phase him. Jones is capable of putting the Aggies defense on its heel, too.

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Film Review: Notre Dame 30, OU 13 

October, 28, 2012
10/28/12
3:30
PM ET
Any hope of Oklahoma inserting itself back into the BCS title hunt vanished on Saturday with a 30-13 loss to Notre Dame at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The Irish made plays when they needed them and the Sooners did not as OU suffered its second home loss of the season. Here is a closer look at several key plays in the loss:

Sooners fail to convert on third-and-3 at Notre Dame 11-yard line

[+] EnlargeAaron Colvin
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMINotre Dame quarterback Everett Golson beat the Sooners through the air and with his feet.
This was a critical play for many reasons. (1) OU had cruised down the field for the second straight possession to open the game and didn’t want to have just three points to show for it. (2) It was an opportunity for the Sooners offense to gain confidence they could make key plays when they needed them against the Irish. (3) It was an early sign that ND was comfortable dropping in coverage to try to stop OU.


Fifth-ranked Notre Dame sent a message to the rest of college football with a 30-13 win over No. 8 Oklahoma at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Here's a closer look at what happened and what it means for both teams.

How the game was won: In the trenches. Notre Dame shut down OU’s run game while rushing for 215 yards of its own. The Fighting Irish offensive and defensive lines manhandled the Sooners as Notre Dame improved to 8-0.

The game was over when: Irish kicker Kyle Brindza hit a 46-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 23-13 lead with 3:22 remaining. The Irish tacked on a late touchdown to win by 17 points.

Turning point: After OU tied the game at 13 midway through the fourth quarter, the Irish stormed back on their next possession, sparked by a 50-yard reception from Chris Brown. It was a remarkable response to the Sooners. Everett Golson’s 1-yard touchdown run capped the drive and secured the win.

Stat of the game: 0.6. That’s the yards-per-carry average for Oklahoma. The Irish run defense was highly regarded when they arrived in Norman. And they didn’t disappoint, holding OU to 15 yards on 24 carries.

Player of the game: Manti Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker was all over the field for the Irish. He sealed the victory with his fourth-quarter interception and finished the game with 11 tackles, one sack and one interception. He played like a Heisman candidate, leaving his mark on the game with his aggression and hustle.

Unsung hero of the game: Golson. The redshirt freshman quarterback showed exceptional maturity and savvy. He made plays when they were there, tossed the ball out of bounds when they weren't. He finished 13-of-25 for 177 yards with zero turnovers and added 11 rushes for 64 yards and one touchdown. He didn't play like a first-year player.

What Notre Dame learned: Brian Kelly’s rebuilding job appears to be nearing completion. Programs are built on wins like this. With a road win against the Sooners, Kelly’s team made its case earn a spot in the BCS title game. And, at the very least, Irish fans must be thrilled with the progress of Kelly’s program during his third season in South Bend.

What Oklahoma learned: Winning home games against top-25 opponents isn’t as easy as it seemed under Bob Stoops. After heading into the season undefeated against top-25 teams at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium under Stoops, the Sooners suffered their second loss to a Top-25 opponent this year. No. 3 Kansas State knocked off the Sooners on Sept. 22.

What it means: The Irish are for real. Notre Dame is making a strong case to rise to No. 2 in the BCS standings. With wins over Stanford, Michigan, Michigan State and OU, the Irish have a solid résumé and can make a case for a spot in the BCS title game.
Oklahoma faces one of its biggest tests when Notre Dame travels to Norman to take on the Sooners at 7 p.m. CT Saturday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. SoonerNation reviewed the Irish in their 17-14 win over BYU on Oct. 20 to get a better feel for the test they present. Here are three challenges of facing the Irish which Sooners fans should keep an eye on this weekend:

[+] EnlargeManti Te'o
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesNotre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is being touted as a Heisman contender.
Dealing with Te’o

Manti Te'o is going to make plays for the Irish on Saturday, it’s just that simple. The key for the Sooners is to limit the overall impact of the Heisman candidate.

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October 27, 2012: vs. Notre Dame
2011 record: 8-5 | OU’s all-time against Notre Dame: 1-8

Top returners: QB Tommy Rees, Cierre Wood, TE Tyler Eifert, OG Chris Watt, OT Zack Martin, C Braxston Cave, DT Louis Nix, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, LB Dan Fox, LB Manti Te’o, LB Prince Shembo, S Zeke Motta

Key losses: RB Jonas Gray, WR Michael Floyd, OG Trevor Robinson, K David Ruffer, DE Ethan Johnson, OLB Darius Fleming, CB Robert Blanton, CB Gary Gray, S Harrison Smith

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Cierre Wood* (1,102 yards)
Passing: Tommy Rees* (2,871 yards)
Receiving: Michael Floyd (1,147 yards)
Tackles: Manti Te’o* (128)
Sacks: Aaron Lynch (5.5)
Interceptions: Robert Blanton, Gary Gray (2)

Three things to watch:

1. Who will be quarterback of the Irish by Oct. 27? Andrew Hendrix seems to be the favorite, but Everett Golson had the best spring game. Then there’s Tommy Rees, who quarterbacked the Irish last season, though struggled and was later arrested in the spring. Notre Dame has weapons offensively, but if the QB position remains a mess, it won’t matter.

2. The Irish should be solid up front defensively, but they are breaking in two new cornerbacks, and have no returning player with more than just one interception. Factor in that third safety Austin Collinsworth is probably out for the season with a shoulder injury, and Notre Dame’s defensive backfield is thin.

3. Notre Dame plays one of the toughest schedules year in, year out, so the Irish won’t be intimidated by Owen Field. For whatever reason, Notre Dame has also had OU’s number over the years, compiling an 8-1 record in the series. The Irish were the last team to beat OU before its 47-game winning streak in the ‘50s, then ended the streak in Norman. Notre Dame also handed Bob Stoops his first loss as OU’s coach. The Sooners have demons to eradicate, and if history is any suggestion, it might not be easy.

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