- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Oklahoma gives up just less than two sacks per game (1.67). Stephon Tuitt averages just more than one (1.14).
If Notre Dame pulls off the upset Saturday in Norman, Okla., Tuitt will add to his team-leading eight sacks. And he will find other ways to disrupt the Sooners' offensive rhythm.
A unit averaging 52 points over its past three games is facing a defense surrendering less than 10 points per game, one that is a heavy underdog despite being undefeated.
Tuitt is, in his teammates' words, a freak. He is 6-foot-6, 303 pounds, and he is very fast, as evidenced by his 77-yard fumble return in the season-opener, a play that saw no Navy skill position player get within sight of the sophomore.
A touchdown is one big play that would provide a huge lift Saturday for the Irish, but Tuitt's athleticism can come in other more subtle, more consistent ways, too -- namely, by batting down balls at the line of scrimmage or pressuring the quick-firing Landry Jones into errant or hurried throws.
"We thought he was a complete player in terms of having the ability to be on the field on first, second and third down," coach Brian Kelly said this week of recruiting Tuitt. "We didn't think he was a guy that was going to come off the field. He's developing as a football player, and [defensive line] coach [Mike] Elston has done a good job with him, and Stephon has done a great job. He's committed to being a better football player."
If he's the best player on the field Saturday night, Notre Dame will still be undefeated.