SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Oklahoma had a 356-yard passer and a 181-yard receiver in last year's game against Notre Dame. The Sooners put the ball in the end zone just once, though, and they lost by 17.
Call it keeping the points down or bending but not breaking. Whatever it is, it has worked well for the Irish in the past, and they are cognizant of that as they ready for a rematch Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
"A lot of it has to do with our ability to not give up big plays — keeping the ball in front of us has been one of our mainstays defensively ," coach Brian Kelly said during his Tuesday news conference, adding: "You've got to be sound and fundamental and contain. You can't give up easy runs. I think that's really what it comes down to. When the quarterback's running the football, you've got to make sure you're minimizing their ability to get big plays."
New Sooners quarterback Blake Bell was used in short-yardage situations last year, as he accounted for the first rushing score against the Irish in 2012.
The challenge is different from facing drop-back passer Landry Jones last season, though the Irish have become familiar with mobile signal-callers in different parts of each of their first four games.
"I think from a chemistry standpoint they put you in a position where you have to cover a lot of different scenarios," Kelly said. "You're put in a very difficult position when you can be running the football and have options to throw as well. That constant bind that the running quarterback gives you is a stress on your defense, and we've had that for the last couple of weeks. Our staff and [defensive coordinator Bob] Diaco have done a great job of formulating a plan, and we're going to have to have another great one this weekend."
Notes: Matthias Farley and Austin Collinsworth were listed as co-starters at one safety spot, with Elijah Shumate holding down the other. The inside linebacker depth chart showed similar structure, with Jarrett Grace and Dan Fox as co-starters at one spot while Carlo Calabrese was the lone starter at the other spot. All five running backs were listed as co-starters. … Notre Dame Stadium is calling for a "green out" but the team will not wear green jerseys. Upward of 40,000 pom-poms will be given out.