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Notre Dame

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Associated Press
Oklahoma’s Jalen Saunders averages 45.7 receiving yards per game.

College football preview: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma

Records: No. 22 Irish (3-1), No. 14 Sooners (3-0)

When: 3:30 p.m. today

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend

TV: NBC

Radio: 1190 AM, 107.3 FM

On the Web: To watch video preview for today’s game, go to “Irish Insights” at www.journalgazette.net

3 matchups to watch

Notre Dame’s secondary vs. Oklahoma’s receivers: Three Sooners have more than 100 receiving yards and average more the 40 yards a game, led by Sterling Shepard’s 146 yards (48.7 per game). Jalen Saunders has 137 yards and averages 45.7, and Jaz Reynolds has 121 yards and averages 40.3. Oklahoma’s receivers do not have a height advantage. Reynolds is the tallest at 6-foot-2, but Shepard is 5-10 and Saunders is 5-9. Saunders, who lines up at slot receiver, matched a school record for receptions with 15 for 181 yards in last year’s 30-13 loss to Notre Dame. Irish cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell and Bennett Jackson match up well in size at 5-11 and 6-foot, and the two have combined for 36 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups. Notre Dame rotates Austin Collinsworth, Elijah Shumate and Matthias Farley at safety, and those three have combined for 31 tackles and Farley had an interception last week against Michigan State.

Notre Dame’s front seven vs. Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell: The Irish were able to limit Michigan State’s dual-threat quarterback Connor Cook to 135 passing yards and four rushing yards last week. And the Irish have held teams to 114.3 rushing yards per game and have four sacks this season. But Bell is a different challenge. The 6-6, 252-pound junior has run for 24 career touchdowns, and he proved he can be an effective passer throwing for 413 yards with four touchdowns in a 51-20 win over Tulsa on Sept. 14. The Sooners are giving up 1.3 sacks per game.

Notre Dame’s offense vs. Oklahoma’s defense: The Irish are still searching for a running game and a way to use all five of their running backs in a game. Juniors George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle and Cam McDaniel have done the bulk of the work running for 447 yards on 102 carries, and freshmen Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant have combined for 40 yards on 12 carries. Oklahoma switched to a 3-3-5 defense to contend with the spread offenses it sees in the Big 12, but the Sooners are still strong against the run. Oklahoma is giving up 100.7 rushing yards per game, which is the 18th best average in the nation. The defense also does allow many points, giving up 9 per game, and with an offense that averages 33.7 points, Notre Dame may have to rely on its passing game again this week. Quarterback Tommy Rees is averaging 277.8 passing yards and has eight TDs to two interceptions.

Prediction: Oklahoma 28, Notre Dame 20

tkrausz@jg.net

– Tony Krausz, The Journal Gazette

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