One of the best matchups of the week is Notre Dame hosting Oklahoma, two teams with BCS bowl aspirations and a rich history of excellence to back it up. Bob Stoops is looking to push his team past its recent plateau of 10 wins in a season, while Notre Dame finishes a tough September slate.
The key battle this week will be Oklahoma's rushing attack against Notre Dame's stout front seven, who allow just 114.3 yards per game and only three yards per run. Both numbers will be put to the test by the Sooners, but Notre Dame's physicality up front is a major obstacle.
Rankings and records: Oklahoma comes into the game at No. 14 after a 3-0 start against largely middling competition, while Notre Dame is 2-1 and No. 22 in the nation. For only a 10-game series, these two teams have a bit of a history with each other, as Notre Dame holds a 9-1 lead in the "rivalry." Oklahoma's only win came in 1956, in the middle of a 47-game winning streak (fun note: Notre Dame was the last team to beat Oklahoma before that streak in 1953 and the team that finally snapped the streak in 1957).
Vegas: Oklahoma is favored by 3.5 points, according to OddsShark.com. The over/under is 49.5 points.
Weather: It's looking like the upper 70s and a few stray clouds in South Bend at kickoff; nothing to complain about here.
Three names to know
Blake Bell is getting the starting nod at QB for Oklahoma after injuries and poor play sidelined putative starter Trevor Knight. Bell has been affectionately known as the "Bell-dozer" in years past, but his game has progressed from "short yardage masher" to a more complete QB this season. Notre Dame's secondary is talented but inconsistent, and if Bell can throw on the Irish, Oklahoma will be in good shape.
Bell has a stable of running backs in Oklahoma's rush-heavy offense, and the emerging leader is senior Brennan Clay, who leads the Sooners with 262 yards in three games and 5.8 yards per carry thus far.
Notre Dame is looking for a solid third option at wideout, and it just may have found it in 6'5" freshman WR Corey Robinson, who caught three passes for 54 yards against Michigan State. Against a strong defense like Oklahoma's, creating mismatches is important, and Robinson's long frame may help the Notre Dame offense do just that.
Two things at stake
If Notre Dame's still legit, it needs to win this game; it's a home game against an Oklahoma team that has struggled against top-flight competition in the last couple years. A win here and Notre Dame is still positioned to at least be in the hunt for a BCS bowl by the time the season finale at Stanford rolls around.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma can exorcise plenty of demons with a win in South Bend. It would be the Sooners' highest-profile win since obliterating Kansas State in 2011 and—barring a terrible game under center—would solidify Bell as the starting QB going forward. And hey, Oklahoma would be creeping toward the Top 10 with plenty of time to go and no losses on its resume. We're just sayin'.
How to witness
TV: NBC is picking up this game at 3:30 ET, with Dan Hicks and Mike Mayock calling the game and Alex Flanagan as sideline reporter.
Online streaming: This game is on NBCSports' LiveExtra streaming service.