ND's 2012 opponents, Week 8: Oklahoma

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
10:30
AM ET
Week 8: Oct. 27 at Oklahoma (at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla.)
Time/TV: TBA
Series: Notre Dame leads all-time, 8-1
2011 record: 10-3 (6-3 Big 12; tied third place)
Head coach: Bob Stoops (139-34, 13 years)
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Landry Jones, RB Dominique Whaley, FB Trey Millard, WR Kenny Stills, OG Gabe Ikard, LB Tom Wort, CB Demontre Hurst, CB/S Aaron Colvin, FS Tony Jefferson

Key losses

WR Ryan Broyles, LT Donald Stephenson, TE James Hanna, DE Ronnell Lewis, DE Frank Alexander, LB Travis Lewis, CB Jamell Fleming

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Whaley* (627 yards)

Passing: Jones* (4,463 yards)

Receiving: Broyles (1,157 yards)

Tackles: Lewis and Colvin* (84)

Sacks: Frank Alexander (8.5)

Interceptions: Jefferson* (4)

Three questions for ... SoonerNation's Jake Trotter:

As we all know, it's been a long time since these two powers met. What's the excitement level like in Norman for this game?

Jake Trotter: It's huge. The game is a hot ticket, among homes probably right there with OU-Nebraska in 2001 and OU-Texas Tech in 2008. Notre Dame is a big name in of itself. When you add the fact that OU is 1-8 all-time against the Irish, that Notre Dame ended OU's 47-game winning streak in 1957, that Notre Dame hasn't been to Norman since the '60s, this is a game OU fans have been waiting for. Especially those who remember the '50s and '60s.

The Sooners are the popular preseason pick to win the Big 12. What are some potential weaknesses that Notre Dame may be able to exploit against them?

JT: OU doesn't have a dominating defensive line. The group is experienced, but it's hard to see anyone up front earning All-Big 12 honors. If the front four can't get pressure, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will be forced to blitz from his back seven, and that could open big plays in the passing game. The secondary should be more sound this season, but the Sooners gave up a ton of big passing plays last season. When the Sooners have lost in the Bob Stoops era, it's often been because they got gashed deep with the pass.

Oklahoma's schedule is really backloaded this season, with the exception of the annual tilt with Texas. Do the Sooners enter this contest undefeated?

JT: You're right, the key stretch will be in November, with road games at West Virginia and TCU, and a home tilt with Oklahoma State, the defending Big 12 champion. But beginning Sept. 22, the Sooners play Kansas State at home, go to Texas Tech, then take on Texas. Kansas State has a ton of people back from its Cotton Bowl team from last season. Tech beat OU in Norman last year, and OU has been a disaster recently in Lubbock, losing the last three there. Texas, meanwhile, probably has the best defense in the Big 12, and will be a dangerous team if it gets anything out of the quarterback position. I expect OU to be undefeated going into the Notre Dame game, but I wouldn't be stunned if they slipped up during that three-game stretch.

Matt Fortuna | email

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