Wood finished the night with 74 yards. Theo Riddick matched that total and quarterback Everett Golson added 64 on 11 carries.
If only it had been limited to rushing damage, the Sooners (5-2) might have had a chance. But Golson finished the night 13-for-25 for 177 yards through the air.
Fifty of the yards came midway through the fourth quarter on a play-action pass that turned out to be the play of the night.
Despite trailing most of the game, OU rallied when Blake Bell banged his way into the end zone from one yard out to tie it up 13-13 with 9:10 remaining. At that point, the Sooners had the record crowd of 86,031 at Owen Field energized.
That buzz died when Golson hit Chris Brown for 50-yard strike on the drive’s second play. The Sooners never recovered.
“We had them and then we gave up a big play,” OU safety Tony Jefferson said. “We can’t do that — especially at that point in the game.”
Five plays later, the Irish had a 20-13 lead. The Sooners had a chance to tie it up, but the game’s only turnover was the final nail in OU’s coffin.
Jones tried to hit Saunders on a short route with 4:27 left. Notre Dame linebacker Dan Fox hit Saunders as the ball arrived — perhaps, a little early — and Manti Te’o grabbed it before it hit the ground.
“It was a double-sided call. It could have been a PI (pass interference) and could have been an interception like they called,” Saunders said. “Like I said, it’s back on me. I’m the one who dropped the ball. It was in my hands.”
Te’o, who has become the first defensive player to generate serious Heisman Trophy buzz since Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009, added more momentum to his candidacy. He finished the night with 11 tackles, one of Notre Dame’s two sacks and an interception.