1. Running game. The team that runs the football the most efficiently earns a large leg up in winning in South Bend. Thinking the line of scrimmage will resemble the UFC Octagon. Who's willing to go all in every play? Gut says new Sooner coaches Bill Bedenbaugh and Jerry Montgomery's men rise up and show that they are $2 steak tough.
Manti Te'o and the Irish shut an electric Sooner crowd up last year. OU must return the favor this time around.
2. Crowd control. Irish took Oklahoma fans out of the game in Norman at crunch time last year. It's imperative that Stoops' Troops return the favor Saturday in South Bend. Notre Dame students will bring it.
3. First down. Sooners were anemic against ND last year on first down plays which essentially made OU one dimensional. Curious as to play calling and productivity for OU on first downs.
4. Special teams play. It's hard to be perfect but anything too far from such could equate to a long day for Sooner faithful. Defending punts and kickoffs...converting field goals when the opportunity arises...popping a big return...and gaining field position in the punting game are all magnified in this huge road game.
5. Prime Time for Playmakers. Players such as Saunders, Millard, Shepard, Clay, Finch, Metoyer, Jaz, Damien Williams, et al must have a breakout performance. Good news is that OU has ample offensive weapons and ball protection and running north and south with the pigskin is critical. NO FUMBLES.
6. Quarterback harassment. ND QB Tommy Rees must be punished and not allowed to become comfortable. With Coach Mike Stoops getting better every week, defense can use their speed, tackle efficiently, and play under control, OU might be able to control Brian Kelly's offense. Concerned about Irish RB's catching ball out of backfield and the Irish big eaters controlling the line of scrimmage.
7. Blake Bell. Not concerned about how Bell handles the pressure away from Norman. He's got great DNA and is a tough minded athlete. Don't see Bell running the ball a great deal but I can also see #10 using his legs to give OU something that was lacking last year in the loss to Notre Dame. Plus, Bell has gotten tons of reps since Trevor Knight was injured. That's a factor...a big factor.
This is.an amazing opportunity for Oklahoma. A road game against a nationally ranked, historic football program. OU is damn sure due. ND's won 9 of 10 meetings all time. This game is set up to be a deluxe Slobber Knocker and will not be for the weak at heart. A bucket list trip for this life long Sooner fan.
OU 21 ND 20
Jim Ross. @JRsBBQ
Editor"s note: Jim Ross is an Oklahoma native living in Norman. JR is a two time, New York Times best selling author, former NFL and XFL broadcaster, and a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Check out JR's BBQ Sauces, Chipotle Ketchup, Main Event Mustard, All Purpose Seasoning and Beef Jerky. All are made in Oklahoma and available at the four, Norman Homeland stores and in Lawton at the three, Country Mart stores. JR's can also be ordered online at http://www.wweshop.com.