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Quick Hits: Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13

By Matt Hinton | Blogger

NOTRE DAME WON: Style-wise, the victory was a familiar one for the Fighting Irish, who did what they've done to every opponent this season by throttling the Oklahoma ground game while patiently moving the sticks on offense. In terms of substance, it was entirely new territory: The eighth-ranked Sooners are the highest-ranked victim Notre Dame has claimed since September 2005, and will serve as the catalyst that propels the Irish into the thick of the BCS championship race down the stretch.

WHY NOTRE DAME WON: The Irish got on the board early courtesy of a rare quick strike, a 62-yard touchdown run by Cierre Wood that put them on top 7-3 in the first quarter. It was over the final three quarters, though, that the offense was at its methodical best, chewing up more than 26 minutes of clock time on its final seven possessions of the night. Five of those drives resulted in points, including extended marches covering, respectively, 64 yards in 13 plays (for a field goal), 70 yards in 13 plays (touchdown) and 73 yards in seven plays (field goal). Ironically, the most time-consuming drive of the night, a 12-play, 60-yard trek that sapped the first seven minutes of the second half, didn't result in any points thanks to a missed field goal. But it did set the tone for the rest of the half, in which Oklahoma held the ball for just ten minutes and only scored once.

As usual, though, the night belonged the Irish defense, which held the same Sooner attack that just piled up 343 yards and six touchdowns rushing against Texas two weeks ago to a grand total of 15 yards rushing, Oklahoma's worst output on the ground since 2009. Although OU was able to move the ball through the air, they came away with just 13 points on four trips inside the Notre Dame red zone, and senior quarterback Landry Jones was held without a touchdown pass for the first time this season.

WHEN NOTRE DAME WON: Leading 20-13 with just under five minutes to play, the Irish came up with the first and only turnover of the night on a tipped pass cradled by linebacker Manti Te'o just before it hit the turf. (Oklahoma fans may say "As the ball hit the turf," but instant replay officials did not agree, and upheld the interception on review.) Five plays later, Kyle Brindza knocked in a field goal from 46 yards out to extend the Irish's lead to ten points with just 3:22 on the clock, effectively putting the game on ice.

WHAT NOTRE DAME WON: With Florida's loss to Georgia, Notre Dame will move into the top four in the next edition of the BCS standings, conceivably as high as No. 2. More importantly, after a two-month gauntlet that's pitted them against four ranked teams in nine weeks – not to mention dates with Miami and BYU – the Irish will be heavily favored to win their next three games against Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest. If they take care of business over that stretch as thoroughly as they have so far, the only thing standing between them and a perfect regular season is a Nov. 24 trip to USC.

WHAT OKLAHOMA LOST: The Sooners can kiss any hope of sneaking into the BCS title game through the backdoor goodbye, and with Kansas State's convincing win over Texas Tech, their Big 12 ambitions are fading by the week, as well. Even closer to home, tonight's loss marks the first time in Bob Stoops' 14-year tenure as head coach that Oklahoma has dropped two games in Norman in the same season. Prior to their loss to K-State in September, the Sooners had only lost two games at home under Stoops in the previous 13 years combined.

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