3 keys to the Oklahoma Sooners winning on Saturday
NORMAN, Okla. - Lots of questions with the Oklahoma football team heading into Saturday's game against Notre Dame and we will certainly know more about the Sooners after they play their first road game of the season.
But for now, here are three things we know have to happen if OU is going to win against the Irish:
1. Blake Bell can't pass the ball 50 times
Oh, he probably could do it – without a problem, his arm certainly wouldn't be hurting – but if Bell is forced to throw it 40 times, the Sooners could be in trouble.
OU has a massive advantage at all the skill positions, but up front, on both lines, is where the game could get decided. Count on the Sooners running the ball, at least trying to, anyway, early on. OU has a number of players who are good enough to get it done, including Brennan Clay, Keith Ford, Roy Finch and Damien Williams.
Bell was sensational throwing the ball last game out against Tulsa, going 27-of-37 for four touchdowns and 413 yards, but duplicating that against Notre Dame without a running game, is going to be too much to ask.
2. The OU defense doesn't have to be great, but it has to be good
No one expects the OU defense to play at the level it has the first three game of the season and no one expects Notre Dame to be at the same level as Tulsa, West Virginia and Louisiana-Monroe, but the Sooner defense still needs to show up.
Oddly, the Notre Dame offense is a lot different than the ones OU has faced and a lot different from the ones the Sooners will see in the future. The Irish feature a drop-back, traditional passer and an offense that is more throw-back than throw-around. The Sooners have been great defensively this year, and the OU offense has been good, but it may not be good enough to go for 40 points. That means not allowing a 20-point fourth quarter like they did a season ago in the 30-13 loss.
3. Louis Nix can't dominate
A season ago, Manti Te'o dominated the Sooners. This season, OU can't let Louis Nix do the same thing. Nix is one of the best defensive linemen in the country and if the Sooners aren't able to run for more than 15 yards like they did a season ago against the Irish, it will be because of Nix.
"He's the best player in the country," OU center Gabe Ikard said of Nix. "I'm very excited to be able to play against someone like him."
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK