Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has seen Oklahoma up close and personal in Memorial Stadium.
Kelly led Cincinnati to Owen Field on Sept. 6, 2008 and watched his Bearcats fall 52-26 to the Sam Bradford-led Sooners.
"I think what I took away from it mostly after that game when I was at Cincinnati is that there was still a bit of a gap," Kelly said. "Even though we were a team that was playing very well, there was still a bit of a gap between us and Oklahoma."
Kelly hopes there isn't as big as a gap between No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) and No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1) this weekend as he leads the Irish against a program he would like to emulate.
The Sooners are 144-35 in 14 seasons under coach Bob Stoops. They won the national championship in 2000, and Oklahoma is 79-4 at home under Stoops. Oklahoma's only home loss to a ranked team came this year when Kansas State beat the Sooners 24-19 on Sept. 22.
Kelly is two spots behind Stoops for the most wins on the FBS level since 2001. Kelly has 117 victories, trailing Texas' Mack Brown (119) and Stoops (124).
"That's where we want to get our football program," Kelly said. "We're nowhere near that yet. We think we're moving in the right direction. We're trending the right way. But I think the hallmark of great programs is that consistency. That consistency that we saw here for a number of years, that we haven't seen, we want to be able to bring that back. That takes time and that takes a lot of winning."
The Irish can make a big statement with this road win. It is the first time since 2006 that a top-10 Notre Dame team will be playing a top-10 opponent.
Saturday will also be the second game in three weeks that Notre Dame will be playing a game that is the site for ESPN's "College GameDay." The ESPN show was at South Bend when the Irish defeated Stanford 20-13 in overtime Oct. 13.
A win over the Sooners would also give the Irish a real shot at finishing the season undefeated, and it would boost Notre Dame's chances of landing in a BCS bowl game. The Irish are fifth in the latest BCS standings, and they are assured a BCS spot with an eight-place finish or hire.
But Kelly isn't worried about the hoopla going into the game and what a win or loss could do for Notre Dame's bowl hopes.
"Our guys got to worry about whether they're stepping with their right foot or their left foot," Kelly said. "Those numbers (Stoop's win total) really are not something we bring up, but clearly we know how good they are."