Past is present when Irish, OU meet

Here it is, right where we need it, an almost-late-season intersectional test of two top-10 teams. Games like this are rare. They come our way only when Notre Dame is involved, and the Fighting Irish haven't breathed the thin air of national contention this close to Halloween in a decade.

Here it is, a game untainted by the emotion of annual conference rivalry, a football test as pure as if it were conducted by guys in white lab coats. The rivalry on the field exists only in the sense that No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) and No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1) want to remain in the race for the crystal football.

The Irish's defense, which has allowed fewer touchdowns (six) than any team in the nation, will attempt to slow down a Sooners team that has scored 52 points per game since losing at home to Kansas State, 24-19, on Sept. 22.

No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 8 Oklahoma have played this kind of game more than once. They are two of the most successful programs in the sport. Notre Dame has won eight Associated Press national championships, one more than Oklahoma. The Irish rank third in all-time victories with 860. The Sooners are sixth with 826.

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