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October 26, 2012

Millard has work cut out for him vs. Te’o

NORMAN — With 22 players on the field, it’s rare when you truly get two teams’ best players going head to head. On Saturday night, however, it will happen when No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1) faces No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) at Owen Field.

The game within the game will be between Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and OU fullback Trey Millard. It will be the best versus the best in their own personal “Oklahoma Drill.”

“It’s definitely 11 on 11, but I know there are a lot of schemes where I’ll be blocking him,” Millard said. “It’s something you look forward to in practice and get prepared for.”

He should because opportunities like this don’t come along often. Millard may have developed into a very skilled offensive player this season. The guy is averaging 7.8 yards per carry and 15.5 yards per reception. Nonetheless, Millard is still the Sooners’ No. 1 fullback, and that job is earned by neutralizing linebackers.

“I love making big blocks and I love springing guys,” Millard said. “If I have the ball in my hands, I love doing that, too. I definitely think if we have some of those longer runs, it definitely gets the whole offense kind of fired up, makes the play-action that much more dangerous, makes the wide receivers that much more dangerous.”

Te’o is better than any linebacker the Sooners have gone against in years. The last linebacker to finish in the top five in the Heisman Trophy balloting was OU’s own Brian Bosworth, who finished fourth in 1986. Te’o, who has four interceptions and a fumble recovery this season, would probably surpass that, based on the way he’s played in the first seven games.

“He’s a great player,” OU coach Bob Stoops said of Te’o. “Those guys have had a great year so far for us, too. It’ll be one of the many battles in there.”

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