The biggest story surrounding Saturday night's game between Oklahoma and Kansas had nothing to do with the actual game. There was little doubt in the minds of anyone across the country that the Sooners would defeat the Jayhawks—even though head coach Bob Stoops called it an "enormous game" in his weekly press conference Monday. Instead, the focus centered on how the Sooners would play against a less-than-stellar Kansas team with a huge matchup against No. 5 Notre Dame next week in Norman on the horizon.
The Sooners didn't have any problems with Kansas, thrashing the Jayhawks 52-7 in a game that wasn't even that close. Landry Jones was a very efficient 20-for-29 for 300 yards and three touchdowns, and OU got a 90-yard punt return from Justin Brown and a 100-yard kickoff return from Roy Finch, the first time in school history the Sooners have had a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown in the same game.
With the Sooners win, and Notre Dame's 17-14 come-from-behind victory over BYU, college football fans across the country are going to be treated to a clash of titans in a game that has significant implications for BCS bowl games and the national championship race next Saturday night in Norman.
The Sooners and Irish haven't met since 1999, Bob Stoops' first year in Norman, and before that, you have to go back to 1968 to find the last meeting between the two teams. OU is just 1-8 all time against Notre Dame, with the most famous win for the Irish being the 7-0 upset in Norman that ended the Sooners' record 47-game winning streak in 1957.
After the game Saturday night, Stoops compared the anticipation for the game to that of the 2000 game against Nebraska. The Huskers came to Norman as the No.1 team in the country, and left on the short end of a 31-14 whipping. That game was the final proof the country needed to acknowledge that Oklahoma was truly back to its winning ways of old. That win propelled OU to its seventh national championship.
Going back to Saturday, it was clear Notre Dame might have been looking ahead a bit, but the Sooners had no such issue, jumping on Kansas early, and maintaining the intensity well into the second half, when the game was out of reach. The Sooners' effort is an indication of the focus of the players during the week of preparation. Stoops said after the game how pleased he was with the maturity of the team's approach during practice each week.
Now, with Kansas in the rearview mirror, the Sooners can focus all their attention on the Irish, and they weren't shy about expressing their excitement about the matchup after Saturday's win.
"We are excited for this one," quarterback Landry Jones said. "This one has not necessarily been marked on our calendar, but we have all been looking forward to it. Coming to place like Oklahoma, it's just a blessing that you get to play another school with tradition like Notre Dame. It's going to be a good one."
It will be a raucous scene in Norman next Saturday night. ESPN announced Gameday will be on site, and the game is slated for the Saturday Night Football primetime slot on ABC. As for the atmosphere in the stadium itself, electric may prove to be quite the understatement. The Sooners haven't had a highly anticipated home game with such large implications since 2008 against Texas Tech, and the OU crowd responded that night in a pretty impressive way.
Big games can always prove to be a stumbling block when teams look ahead and forget about taking care of business beforehand. The Sooners didn't allow that to happen Saturday night against Kansas. So talk up OU-Notre Dame all you want, folks. It's going to be fun.