George Atkinson III out vs. Sooners

Updated: October 27, 2012, 11:38 PM ET
By Matt Fortuna | ESPN.com

Fifth-ranked Notre Dame entered its biggest game of the season without one of its top playmakers, as George Atkinson III did not make the trip to Norman, Okla., for Saturday night's contest against No. 8 Oklahoma.

Atkinson stayed back at school because of flu-like symptoms, a source told ESPN.com. The school confirmed Saturday that Atkinson did not travel and was inactive.

The sophomore averages a team-best 8.1 yards per carry, netting 301 rushing yards on just 37 attempts. He has four touchdowns this season, including scores of 56 and 55 yards.

The No. 3 running back, Atkinson is also the Fighting Irish's No. 1 kick returner, bringing back eight kicks for 155 yards this season. He burst onto the scene as a true freshman last year when he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Despite Atkinson's absence, Notre Dame beat Oklahoma 30-13.

Matt Fortuna | email

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