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Irish Insights


Notre Dame falls to Oklahoma

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame's margin of error to reach a BCS bowl game shrunk to nearly nothing Saturday.

The No. 22 Irish fell 35-21 to No. 14 Oklahoma in Notre Dame Stadium with only No. 5 Stanford in the season finale left as an impressive game on the schedule. The loss snapped the Irish's 10-game home winning streak.

Notre Dame (3-2) was undone by three first-half interceptions that led to 21 points for Oklahoma (4-0).

Tommy Rees, who only had two turnovers entering the game, threw all three interceptions, with two of them coming off tipped balls. Rees went 9-for-24 passing for 104 yards with two touchdowns.

The Irish were able to find a running game against the Sooners, gaining 220 yards. George Atkinson III finished with a career-high 148 yards on 14 carries with an 80-yard touchdown.

Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell, who had to leave the game with a knee injury in the third quarter only to return in the fourth, went 22 for 30 for 232 yards with two touchdowns.

The Irish cut into the Sooners lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter thanks to a miscue by the Oklahoma defense.

Tight end Troy Niklas was left uncovered on Oklahoma's 9, caught an easy pass from Rees and waltzed into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown to reduce Notre Dame's deficit to 27-21 with 14:10 to play.

Oklahoma didn't let Notre Dame stay close for long, as Bell hit Sterling Shepard for a short pass that the receiver turned into a 54-yard touchdown as he sprinted past Jarrett Grace. The Sooners cashed in a 2-point conversion to take a 34-21 lead with 12:24 to play.

Notre Dame didn't put together a drive that lasted more than three plays after Shepard's TD, and Oklahoma held the ball for the game's final 5:39.

For more on this game, read Sunday's Journal Gazette or return to after 3 a.m.