Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Perfect Irish shut down Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. — Everett Golson scored the decisive touchdown and Manti Te'o bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy with a late interception as No. 5 Notre Dame beat No. 8 Oklahoma 30-13 on Saturday to remain undefeated.

Te'o, the star linebacker, dived when Landry Jones' pass ricocheted off Jalen Saunders and got his gloved hands under it. Kyle Brindza tacked on his third field goal soon after, and Theo Riddick added a late touchdown run as the Irish scored 20 fourth-quarter points.

Jones threw for 356 yards with no touchdowns for the Sooners, who were clinging to hope they could get back in the national title race.

Notre Dame is off to its best start in a decade, doing so as the only team in the country with four wins against Top 25 teams — including two on the road against top 10 foes.

The game revived a rivalry that had been largely dormant since the 1960s with only one meeting since then — in Bob Stoops' first season as Sooners coach in 1999. The Irish won eight of the first nine meetings, including three times when they handed Oklahoma its only loss of the season — most notably in 1957, when the Sooners' NCAA-record 47-game win streak ended.

This meeting was no different, and Notre Dame's throwback defense gave the game a taste of days gone by.

The Irish frequently gave up underneath passes but prevented them from turning into big gains, making the Sooners snap the ball over and over while the Irish waited for a mistake. Oklahoma's first two red zone possessions ended with field goals. The Sooners turned to backup quarterback Blake Bell and their "Belldozer" short-yardage run package to finally punch one in and tie it at 13 with 9:10 left.

Golson, who had to come out for the final play of the third after getting flattened by Tony Jefferson, answered on the next play, a 50-yard post pass to freshman Chris Brown — his first career reception.

It took five more plays for Notre Dame to punch it in from the 15 with Golson taking a shotgun snap for a draw and diving into the line from the 1.

Jones tried to rally the Sooners, but linebacker Dan Fox slammed into Saunders as the pass arrived and Te'o was right there to pick it off. The Irish, who were giving up just 9.4 points per game, haven't allowed more than 17 in a game this season.

That remained true when an instant replay review wiped what appeared to be a 34-yard Jones-to-Kenny Stills touchdown pass off the board on the game's final drive. Stills was called for offensive pass interference by shoving KeiVarae Russell down in the end zone on the next play, and Jones was sacked by Prince Shembo to deliver one final blow by the Irish defense.

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