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OU Football: Week 5 Notebook

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Oklahoma Sooners are coming off a bye week and travel to Notre Dame this week to take on the Fighting Irish on Saturday. Bob Stoops and players met with the media on Monday and talked about the Sooners' preparation for the game. Here are some news and notes from the press conference.

• Bob Stoops recalled his first trip to Notre Dame during his first year at Oklahoma in 1999. Stoops said he learned a lot about his team that day and what he needed to do to turn the program around. "I remember us leading in the third quarter by 16 and looking around and seeing too many happy faces," Stoops recalled. "I felt there were too many guys that thought they had this won and really realized we had not learned how to compete yet for four quarters."

• Fullback Trey Millard said this past week was one of the best bye weeks he's experienced during his time in Norman. "We went a lot of good-on-good. I know the competition is going to be good again this week," Millard said.

• Millard said the revenge factor isn't really there for OU even though the Irish came in to Norman last season to knock off the Sooners, 30-13. "If you play emotional, you tend to make mistakes and that's not the type of team we want to be," Millard said.

• Linebacker Corey Nelson said playing at a historic program like Notre Dame is very different from other road games the Sooners take each year. "When you go to historic places like Notre Dame, Florida State, Alabama, it creates a different atmosphere; it stirs up a different kind of attitude in the players," Nelson said.

• Nelson said that Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees is the smartest quarterback the Sooners have faced this season.

• Nelson said he's excited to see the Notre Dame campus and all the differences from OU. "I look forward to seeing how they do things traditionally," Nelson said. "This will be the first time I've been to Indiana, let alone South Bend."

• Center Gabe Ikard said that the OU offensive line's battle with the Notre Dame defensive line is unique since four of five Oklahoma offensive line starters and two of the three Notre Dame defensive line starters from a year ago return. "It's not every day when you have all those guys back," Ikard said. "It's one of those things where you're familiar with them, you know their strengths, you know how they play, so it makes studying the tape a little easier."

• Ikard called Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix "the best in the country" and said it was the most difficult matchup for him a year ago. "He's lot to handle," Stoops added later. "You've got to block all those guys up front. They're very disruptive."

• Ikard said he and his teammates understand the magnitude of this game, one of the biggest the Sooners have played in recent years. "You don't want to define a season by one game, but this game could swing our season one of two ways," Ikard said.

• Stoops said the Sooners have no injuries going into this weeks's game. Everyone has recovered from the first three weeks, including Trevor Knight, who is scheduled to practice Monday. D.J. Ward is also back practicing after having his spleen removed in August.

• Stoops said Blake Bell's experience against Notre Dame last year, along with his performances in other games in the past two years gives him a chance to perform well in his first road game as the starting quarterback. "He's been in a lot of critical and important situations and he's handled them well," Stoops said of Bell. "He's not a true first-time guy out there playing."

• Stoops added running back Damien Williams would be part of the running back rotation on Saturday after being suspended for the game against Tulsa for "team matters."

• Stoops said the Sooners will treat this game like any other road game, citing the wide range of historic places OU has traveled to in the last several years. "We've been all over the map," Stoops said. "We've been to Oregon, we've been to Alabama, we've got Ohio State coming up. Its another game."

The Big 12 announced OU's game against TCU next week will kick off at 6 p.m. on FOX.

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