SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Oklahoma’s experienced virtually nothing but heartbreak at Notre Dame. A record winning streak and even national title hopes had come crumbling down in the 10 previous meetings over the last 61 years.
Luck usually seemed to belong to the Irish. But it all changed Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium.
The 14th-ranked Sooners exploited every break they received and created several more in a 35-21 victory over No. 22 Notre Dame.
“We came out hungry. This is just the start of it all, but today did show what we’re capable of,” OU linebacker Corey Nelson said.
What OU did was dominate the beginning and end of the showdown between two of college football’s traditional powers and completely flip the script from OU’s 30-13 loss to Notre Dame last year in Norman.
Las year, OU never led and wore down in the fourth quarter. Saturday, it never trailed and dominated the final 14 minutes of the game.
The third play of the game showed where the day was heading. OU linebacker Eric Striker hit Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees as he threw and his fluttering pass went right to Nelson, who returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.
One play later, Sooner linebacker Frank Shannon snared a deflected Rees’ pass setting up OU’s 32-yard touchdown drive.
“We came out right out of the gate and jumped right on them,” Shannon said. “Corey had a good interception, Striker with a big sack and I came out with another interception. And our defense, we were really hyped going in and that gave a lot of momentum to the offense.”
The momentum ebbed and flowed Saturday, but that barrage of Notre Dame turnovers and OU capitalizing on them was a major difference in the game.
However, there were others.
OU quarterback Blake Bell, who made his second career start and first on the road, threw for 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The last was a 54-yard strike to Sterling Shepard early in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the victory. The first was a scrambling 26-yard connection with Lacoltan Bester with 42 seconds left in the first half that.