=== Bell, No. 14 OU down No. 22 Notre Dame ===
South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Blake Bell threw for 232 yards and two
touchdowns, while the Sooners' stout defense picked off Notre Dame's Tommy
Rees three times, as No. 14 Oklahoma downed the 22nd-ranked Fighting Irish,
35-21, on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
The Sooners (4-0) smothered Rees from the start, intercepting back-to-back
passes from the Notre Dame signal-caller to help create a 14-0 cushion less
than three minutes into the game.
OU linebacker Corey Nelson returned the first pick 24 yards for a score before
Frank Shannon intercepted Rees' next throw, setting up an 11-yard touchdown
run from Damien Williams, who finished with 42 rushing yards on nine carries.
Bell, making his first career road start, helped the early lead stand,
completing 22-of-30 passes while rushing 12 times for 59 yards for Oklahoma,
which has won nine straight regular-season games since last year's 30-13 home
loss to then-No. 5 Notre Dame.
"He was really sharp," Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said of Bell. "He put
the ball where it needed to be, finding the right guys, going through his
Rees finished a woeful 9-of-24 passing for 104 yards, two touchdowns and three
interceptions for the Fighting Irish (3-2), who had won nine of the 10 all-
time meetings against Oklahoma, with their only other loss to the Sooners
coming back in 1956.
George Atkinson III provided the lone bright spot for Notre Dame, rushing for
a career-high 148 yards and a score on 14 carries in the setback.
All three of Rees' interceptions came in the first half, with the Sooners
turning each one into a touchdown to build a 21-7 lead at the break.
The first came on the third play from scrimmage, as Rees dropped back to pass
and was drilled from behind by Eric Striker just as he released the ball.
Nelson was there to intercept the pass and return it 24 yards for a score to
make it 7-0 less than a minute into the game.
Shannon picked off Rees' next pass and three plays later, Williams tight-roped
the right sideline en route to an 11-yard TD for a 14-0 lead just 2:45 in.
"Obviously the interception return and certainly the interceptions in the
first half were crucial," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. "You spot a
great team like Oklahoma 14 points, you're putting yourself in a tough
After going three-and-out on its next touch, Notre Dame's offense appeared to
find its rhythm, as Tarean Folston ripped off a 36-yard run before Rees hit TJ
Jones in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard score to make it 14-7.
Notre Dame moved into Oklahoma territory on each of its next two touches, but
neither produced points, with backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix taking a sack
on 3rd-and-2 from the OU 38 to thwart the first trek before Rees' third
interception of the day ended Notre Dame's next drive.
After Julian Wilson picked off Rees on 3rd-and-10 from the OU 24, Bell
converted a pair of third downs to keep OU's ensuing march moving before
rolling to his right and firing a cross-field pass into the end zone for
Lacoltan Bester, who hauled in the 26-yard score to give Oklahoma a 21-7
cushion with 42 seconds remaining in the half.
Following an OU punt to open the second half, Atkinson brought the Fighting
Irish within a score on Notre Dame's first play from scrimmage, bursting
through the left side of the line and scampering 80 yards untouched into the
end zone to make it 21-14 nearly 2 1/2 minutes into the third.
Michael Hunnicutt hit a 27-yard field goal on Oklahoma's next series before
adding a 19-yarder late in the third to give the Sooners a 27-14 lead.
Notre Dame responded with a 7-play, 75-yard march that Rees capped with a 30-
yard scoring strike to Troy Niklas on the second play of the fourth quarter,
but the Sooners answered with a 75-yard scoring drive of their own to expand
Facing 3rd-and-3 from the OU 46, Bell fired a quick slant over the middle to
Sterling Shepard, who split the safeties and scurried 54 yards into the end
Shepard then hauled in Bell's two-point conversion toss to push the margin to
35-21 with over 12 minutes left in the game.
OU's defense stood tall from there, forcing three straight three-and-outs from
the Fighting Irish before Brennan Clay chewed up the final 5:39 off the game
clock to secure the victory for the Sooners.
Notre Dame had its 10-game home winning streak halted ... Notre Dame
linebacker Ben Councell was ejected in the fourth quarter for a targeting
penalty ... Oklahoma outgained Notre Dame, 450-324 ... Oklahoma racked up 25
first downs while holding Notre Dame to 12 first downs.
09/28 22:54:49 ET