MOORE — They are two of the most storied programs in college football history. Oklahoma and Notre Dame have combined for 15 national championships, 1,679 wins and 12 Heismann trophy winners.
Yet, the two schools have only met on the gridiron nine times in their long and illustrious histories. The last meeting on the University of Oklahoma campus came in 1966, before any member of the current Oklahoma squad was born.
The Sooners and the Irish will renew their rivalry Saturday in Norman. And once again the eyes of the college football world will be on them.
“You are excited though because you don’t get a lot of these big games,” senior Justin Brown said. “There are only so many that you get. So you are excited about the opportunity to go out and showcase how hard you have been working.”
No. 9 Oklahoma demolished Kansas 52-7 to win its third straight game after losing to Kansas State. No. 5 Notre Dame held off a scrappy BYU Saturday for a 17-14 win. It took a second half comeback for the Irish to remain undefeated and keep the matchup worthy of the hype that will be bestowed on it this week.
“Big games. One being OU-Texas or OU-Nebraska when they were still here. Games like that, that’s what you come to college for,” senior Casey Walker said. “That’s what you play ball for. You can be the best in the country and just run over everybody, but if you don’t ever get a challenge, how do you know how actually good you are.? I am excited for the game.”
Even before Oklahoma beat Kansas, it was announced that its game with the Irish would be played on national TV in primetime at 7 p.m. With both teams winning Saturday, it guaranteed that ESPN’s College GameDay would make a trip to Norman.
GameDay has been on site for 27 Oklahoma games since 1995, including last season’s 55-17 win over Texas in Dallas. Saturday will mark the seventh GameDay appearance in Norman. Only Florida (34) and Ohio State (30) have been featured more times on the show than OU.
“That’s why you come to OU,” Aaron Colvin said. “You want to play in games like this. I know emotions are going to be flaring. But, at the same time, we have to stay level-headed.”
The last time GameDay paid Norman a visit it was in 2008 when the Sooners pummeled Texas Tech 65-21. It’s something most of these Sooners have not experienced, yet.
“I think it’s going to be crazy just like my freshman year in 2008 when Tech came up here,” Walker said. “I think it’ going to be that type of atmosphere. Maybe a little bit wilder. I am ready for and I get to play in it. It’s going to be on.”
The Irish own a 8-1 record all time against the Sooners. That includes ending Oklahoma’s 47 game win streak in 1957. From Oct. 1951 to Oct. 1958 Oklahoma amassed a 66-3-2 record. It’s only losses were to the Irish.
Very few of OU’s current fan base remember that day. But that hasn’t stopped them from getting excited about the top-10 matchup.
“My family had season tickets in 1957 and has ever since,” said 37 year old Casey Davis. “My dad worked for Harold Keith, covered the Sooners as a journalist, and worked in the press box keeping stats. He has seen some of the greatest moments in Sooner history and has waited 55 years to see OU avenge Notre Dame snapping Bud’s 47 game winning streak.”
Even though the players said they didn’t allow themselves to think about Notre Dame until once the Kansas game was done, they know what this game will mean to the fans and the program. And to be able to play it in front of the Sooner Nation makes it even better.
“Just knowing the crowd is going to be behind you, it’s going to be rocking,” Javon Harris said. “I’m excited just like everybody else to see me throw my hands up and probably see the whole crowd jumping up and down. For this to be as big a game as it is, that means we have to play big.”