SOUTH BEND, Ind. —
Both put the Sooners up by 14 points and they were two of the 33 passes Bell put in the air without an interception.
“He was really sharp,” OU coach Bob Stoops said of Bell. “He put the ball where it needed to be, finding the right guys, going through his reads. And give credit to the line to give them the opportunity to find those guys, so I thought he played great.”
In so many ways, Bell was the X factor Saturday. The junior was poised despite making his second career start. His athletic ability also showed up against the best defense the Sooners have faced.
Bell rushed for 59 yards and the Sooners finished with 212, which was 197 more than it put up in last season’s meeting.
Notre Dame (3-2) did have success running the ball. George Atkinson III rushed for a career-high 148 yards on a just 14 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run early in the second half.
But Notre Dame was counting on being able to run the ball and wear OU down like it did last season. The Irish couldn’t do it.
The defensive improvements OU has made were shown throughout the game. Notre Dame was just 4 for 12 converting third downs and had just 12 first downs in the game.
“We’re down 14 points, and I’ve got to go five wide receivers against a really good defense that matches up well against teams that do that,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “This defense was built to do the thing that’s we were doing down 14 points. That’s what I didn’t want to. I wanted to be in two tight ends and I wanted to run the football, and I wanted to run play action and I wanted to be able to control the game that way.”