SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In the interest of full disclosure, I am a lifelong Notre Dame fan (when you grow up in New Mexico, ya gotta root for somebody besides the Lobos if you want to avoid clinical depression).
Now, that I have most of Sooner Nation's blood boiling, let me fire up everybody who doesn't already hate me by telling you why Notre Dame will win on Saturday.
The Irish plays 'big boy football.' Pretty sure I borrowed that line from Pat Jones. The former OSU Head Coach loves the kind of defensive line talent that can't be taught and Notre Dame has it.
Nose guard, Louis Nix III is a First Team All American who tips the scales at over 350 pounds. Gabe Ikard had serious trouble blocking him last year (OU: 15 yards rushing) and as good as Ikard is, Nix is as good as it gets, so expect more of the same.
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 322 pounds. The Junior All American tallied 12 sacks last season and has two more so far this year. OU'S O-line has been more physical this year.
The run game is improved, but it hasn't seen anything like this ND D-Line so far. If the Irish can again snuff out the run, that Sooners offense will look very different than it did two weeks ago against Tulsa.
The Irish has a knack for winning the close ones.
In his fourth season as head coach, Brian Kelly has molded Notre Dame into one of the nation's most tough-minded groups. ND has won 10 of its last 11 games decided by a touchdown or less, including recent defeats of Purdue and Michigan State.
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If the Sooners jump in front early, the Irish is in trouble, but if ND can make this a four-quarter affair, that mental and physical toughness will take its toll, just like it did last October in Norman.
The Irish is battle-tested.
Granted, Notre Dame has already squandered much of its momentum from last year's 12-0 regular season. The loss to Michigan featured some atrocious tackling on defense (something this team was never guilty of in 2012) and some sloppy mistakes on offense (the Rees INT before the half was a dagger).
But give this team credit for playing a brutal September schedule. Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State back-to-back-to-back is no joke. The Irish weathered the storm in wake of that loss to the Wolverines and an ugly defeat of Purdue to win a hard-fought, well-deserved battle with a tough Michigan State squad.
OU has looked great so far, but how can we possibly know how great the Sooners really are? In a battle of tested vs. untested, give me the squad that's been in a tight game, against a tough opponent.
All that said, take heart Sooners; according to my wife, I'm never right.
For more on the series between the Sooners and the Irish go to www.kjrh.com/ounotredame. There you will find videos from past games, photos, news and more about the 2013 matchup.
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