Stoops: 'On to Notre Dame'
Oklahoma's third consecutive rout sets up showdown with Fighting Irish
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma linebacker Tom Wort hammered Dayne Crist so hard, the ball popped out of the Kansas quarterback's hand. Three hundred pound defensive tackle Casey Walker did his best Refrigerator Perry impersonation, scooping up the fumble and rumbling 45 yards before stumbling out of bounds to set up another OU touchdown. Minutes later, highlights of Notre Dame's narrow victory over BYU flashed on the Owen Field jumbotron, drawing an ovation as loud the one for the fumble.
Saturday night, the surging Sooners smashed their third consecutive opponent, 52-7, setting the stage for next weekend's showdown with the fifth-ranked and still unbeaten Fighting Irish.
"Now it's on to Notre Dame."
If you don't have a ticket already, don't bother. National championship implications will be in play, and ESPN's "College GameDay" will be in the house for the first time since the Sooners' 65-21 rout of second-ranked Texas Tech in 2008.
That win ultimately catapulted OU into the national championship game. A victory over the Irish could do the same.
"We're excited for this one," said quarterback Landry Jones, who against the Jayhawks had another pristine passing performance, throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. "Not going to say we had Notre Dame marked on our calendar, but we've been looking forward to it, for sure.
"A huge game for this program."
Stoops called it the most anticipated home game since top-ranked Nebraska came to town in 2000. After falling behind by two touchdowns, the second-ranked Sooners came storming back to knock off the Huskers, then stormed to the school's seventh national title.
Those Sooners were firing on all cylinders by October. These Sooners are, too.
OU has scored 40 points or more in all three of its October wins. The first-team defense hasn't surrendered more than one touchdown to an opponent this month, either.
Even the special teams have been downright special.
Justin Brown weaved through the Kansas coverage team left, then right for a 90-yard punt return touchdown early in the second quarter. Later, Roy Finch took the opening kick of the second half 100 yards for a touchdown, marking the first time in school history that the Sooners scored on a punt return and kickoff return in the same game.
"These last three games, we've been on a roll," said safety Tony Jefferson, who led OU with 11 tackles. "Offense, defense, special teams, we're playing how we need to be playing."
The Sooners weren't always playing this way. Turnovers and poor fourth-quarter defense doomed OU in its early-season home defeat to Kansas State.
But after an off week following the loss, the Sooners have come out a different team.
Jones has been taking care of the ball and distributing it to his litany of playmakers, including bulldozing fullback Trey Millard, who had his second touchdown reception in as many weeks.
Spearheaded by Jefferson and cornerback Aaron Colvin, the defense been breaking the will of its opponents before the fourth quarter has even begun with hard hits and forced turnovers such as the Walker fumble return.
"It showed a lot of character that we were able to bounce back," said receiver Kenny Stills, whose 44-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter ignited the rout.
"We're continuing to roll now, and that's really exciting for us."
Now it's on to Notre Dame. And another chance for the Sooners to turn a great season into something even more.