For many in the Sooner Nation, this coming weekend has been circled on the calendar since the schedule came out a couple of years ago. As it turns out, it will be the premiere game in the nation on Saturday, complete with a national TV audience and a visit from ESPN’s GameDay crew.
While the Sooners and Irish have only played a hand full of times, this series is considered an intense and storied rivalry that has its roots in the very history of college football. There are very few Sooner and Irish fans who don’t know the history of these two programs. But, for those warriors who are about to participate in the latest edition of this game, it’s just the next big game on the schedule.
"I saw it on the schedule but I didn't really get too ahead of myself,” said OU Wide Receiver Justin Brown. “That's just not how I am and I don't think that's how our team is. We've got to take it one game at a time. It just happens to be that this is the Notre Dame week, so we've got to get prepared and ready to play.”
The marketing strategy began on Monday to make this an extremely tough environment on the Irish. It’s not a “Red Out” or a “White Out” it’s a “Stripe the Stadium.” Sooner fans are encouraged to either wear Crimson or white depending on the section they are sitting in.
"I hear it's going to be a great environment,” said Brown. “But you can't get too hyped up for it. You have to stay focused at hand.
"Especially since I'm from back east, I watched Notre Dame a lot along with some other programs. I'm a fan of college football; I'm not a fan of any specific team."
Make no mistake, the importance and ramifications of this game are certainly not lost on Brown. He understands completely what this game is all about. He had his share of big games before transferring from Penn State.
"I mean, OU's a great program traditionally,” said Brown. “Notre Dame's a great program. There are a lot of other great programs that we play. So you kind of have to expect to play in some of these big games.
"It's going to be a good game. They have a great defense, but that's what you want. You want to go against the best; you want to go against a great defense and we're going to get that opportunity. We're excited."
Like in all big games, special teams will play a significant role. And the Sooner special teams are making opponents take notice. After nearly breaking several punt returns earlier this season, Brown took a 90 yard return to the house against Kansas for his first return for a TD as a Sooner. The Sooners are, obviously, hoping to repeat the feat against Notre Dame on Saturday.
"It is exciting,” said Brown. “But, you just have to go out there and do what you can do. Special teams relies a lot on the blocking and what not, so everybody has to do their job. Hopefully, when our special teams guys get our chance we can go out there and make a big play."
For Brown, the key to success on Saturday is how you practice through the week. It’s bringing the same intensity to work every day.
"I think you have to bring it every day in practice.” said Brown. “You have to take the same approach on the practice field every day, no matter who you are playing. It's always a matter of getting better and that's the approach we have to take this week."
The Sooners and fighting Irish will kick off at 7:00 p.m. Saturday evening on Owen Field.