Dallas Colleges: Everett Golson
Good luck finding a bigger story in college football over the past month than the one that broke on Saturday night. Notre Dame is more than 800 miles and a 12-hour drive from the nearest Big 12 campus in Oklahoma, but don't be surprised if quarterback Everett Golson's season-long suspension affects both Big 12 schools in the Sooner state.
It's a sure thing to affect Oklahoma, which makes the trek to South Bend on Sept. 28 in hopes of avenging last October's home loss to the national championship-bound Fighting Irish. Golson, a redshirt freshman in 2012, threw for 177 yards on 13-of-25 passing and rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown in the 30-13 win in Norman.
Golson completed 187 of 318 passes for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions last season, adding 298 rushing yards and six scores. For now, the Irish are left with some uninspiring options to replace Golson for 2013, though he hopes to return for 2014.
From colleague Joe Schad:
Senior Tommy Rees is the most experienced quarterback enrolled, with 18 career starts. Fourth-year junior Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire, a spring enrollee, are also on the depth chart.
Zaire was the sixth-ranked QB prospect in the Class of 2013, according to the ESPN 300.
That helps the Sooners' odds to get a huge road win, but it's where the other possible tie to Oklahoma comes in. Former Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt left Stillwater to be closer to home, and the biggest news surrounding his landing spot thus far has been the 37 schools where Mike Gundy refused to let him go.
Notre Dame, though, is just a four-hour drive from Lunt's hometown of Rochester, Ill. Golson's likely return in 2014 makes me think South Bend is an unlikely landing spot for Lunt -- he'd have to sit out 2013 per NCAA transfer rules -- but he's definitely a better passer than Golson, and he'd be practicing for all of 2013 while Golson isn't enrolled at the university.
It's far from a sure thing, but he'd have a chance to play. The Irish are interested, according to Schad.
Former Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt has drawn interest from Notre Dame within the past month and now may again be an option, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad. Lunt will visit Louisville on Tuesday, a source said.
Lunt was also considering Illinois, but we'll see how much of a draw a chance to take over a BCS title game participant is for the former Cowboy, who'll have three years of eligibility remaining.
There's no doubt about the Sooners feeling the aftershocks of Golson's surprising punishment, but it's also given Oklahoma State fans a reason to keep an eye on the Irish roster in the coming weeks.
Fifth-ranked Notre Dame sent a message to the rest of college football with a 30-13 win over No. 8 Oklahoma at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Here's a closer look at what happened and what it means for both teams.
How the game was won: In the trenches. Notre Dame shut down OU’s run game while rushing for 215 yards of its own. The Fighting Irish offensive and defensive lines manhandled the Sooners as Notre Dame improved to 8-0.
The game was over when: Irish kicker Kyle Brindza hit a 46-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 23-13 lead with 3:22 remaining. The Irish tacked on a late touchdown to win by 17 points.
Turning point: After OU tied the game at 13 midway through the fourth quarter, the Irish stormed back on their next possession, sparked by a 50-yard reception from Chris Brown. It was a remarkable response to the Sooners. Everett Golson’s 1-yard touchdown run capped the drive and secured the win.
Stat of the game: 0.6. That’s the yards-per-carry average for Oklahoma. The Irish run defense was highly regarded when they arrived in Norman. And they didn’t disappoint, holding OU to 15 yards on 24 carries.
Player of the game: Manti Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker was all over the field for the Irish. He sealed the victory with his fourth-quarter interception and finished the game with 11 tackles, one sack and one interception. He played like a Heisman candidate, leaving his mark on the game with his aggression and hustle.
Unsung hero of the game: Golson. The redshirt freshman quarterback showed exceptional maturity and savvy. He made plays when they were there, tossed the ball out of bounds when they weren't. He finished 13-of-25 for 177 yards with zero turnovers and added 11 rushes for 64 yards and one touchdown. He didn't play like a first-year player.
What Notre Dame learned: Brian Kelly’s rebuilding job appears to be nearing completion. Programs are built on wins like this. With a road win against the Sooners, Kelly’s team made its case earn a spot in the BCS title game. And, at the very least, Irish fans must be thrilled with the progress of Kelly’s program during his third season in South Bend.
What Oklahoma learned: Winning home games against top-25 opponents isn’t as easy as it seemed under Bob Stoops. After heading into the season undefeated against top-25 teams at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium under Stoops, the Sooners suffered their second loss to a Top-25 opponent this year. No. 3 Kansas State knocked off the Sooners on Sept. 22.
What it means: The Irish are for real. Notre Dame is making a strong case to rise to No. 2 in the BCS standings. With wins over Stanford, Michigan, Michigan State and OU, the Irish have a solid résumé and can make a case for a spot in the BCS title game.
1. Who is under more pressure to win?
Jake Trotter: There's a ton of pressure on Notre Dame to win. Outside of the Brady Quinn years, the Irish haven’t really been a factor in the national title picture in almost 25 years. This is their chance. But there might be even more pressure on the Sooners. The game is at home, and Oklahoma has a reasonably legitimate shot at getting to the national title if it can get past this game. The fan base is getting antsy. Another 10-2 or 9-3 season will only augment that.
Matt Fortuna: Weird as it may sound, I think Notre Dame is playing with house money at this point. The Irish have seven wins already -- which no one saw happening -- and have games left against Pitt, Boston College and Wake Forest. Ergo, they are likely a 10-win, BCS-bowl bound team at the worst right now. Steal one in Norman, and now we're looking at an 11-0 Notre Dame team going into its regular-season finale at USC.
2. Can OU run the ball on Notre Dame?
Trotter: The Sooners have been running the ball well since inserting junior college transfer Damien Williams into the starting lineup. If they’re able to run the ball on Notre Dame, too, the game is basically over. More likely it’ll be tough sledding against a front seven loaded with future pros. But if Williams and fullback Trey Millard can keep the Irish honest as threats to run, that should take enough pressure off quarterback Landry Jones and the passing game.
Fortuna: If the Sooners can, the Irish can kiss their upset hopes goodbye. But Notre Dame has been outstanding against the run and has not allowed a rushing touchdown all season (nine straight games dating back to last season). Oklahoma needs to establish a ground threat early to open things up for Landry Jones and the passing game, which is where the Sooners have the biggest advantage.
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