Sooners excited about Notre Dame trip

OU defensive end Charles Tapper

OU coaches are trying to deflect the attention away from the significance of the trip to Notre Dame. Make no mistake about it, the players are excited for this opportunity.

If you ask most Oklahoma coaches, they'll say it's just another game. That's what they have to say for a situation like this.

Talk to OU players, however, and the tone is completely different. Is going to play at Notre Dame just a little bit different than playing at other schools? No doubt.

Senior, freshman, offense, defense – doesn't matter. There's a reason why just mentioning Notre Dame elicits a huge reaction.

"It's going to be a once in a lifetime experience," senior cornerback Aaron Colvin said. "It's my senior year, and as a leader, every week is a big game for us. Especially for me, this is my last go-round. I'm going to prepare like it's going to be my last game."

It is said every year that recruits go to OU to play in games like this. But playing in games like this isn't enough. You have to win games like this, too.

While the Sooners have routinely figured out the Texas puzzle, they have been less successful in showdowns against other major programs. Last year's 30-13 loss at home against Notre Dame was another example.

"If you go to the University of Oklahoma, you have a sense of pride," defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue said. "Last year what happened in the fourth quarter, they flat out beat us and we didn't execute. That is in the back of our minds. We're all prideful players, and we have respect for them so we have to get after it."

Sophomore defensive end Charles Tapper was just a spectator in last year's defeat. This year he's going to be expected to make a huge difference.

Tapper has started the first three games at defensive end this season and has been a huge playmaker so far even if the stats don't necessarily reflect that.

The first three games and wins were nice, but this is a different animal.

"This is the biggest one we've had yet," Tapper said. "Notre Dame has some great offensive tackles, great guards, great center and their tight ends are very powerful so it's going to be a great task for us."

But it's not just a tough task defensively. Offensively it's going to be a tough chore for the Sooners. Although OU piled up yards on the Irish, the points didn't follow.

OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell doesn't want to dwell on the missed opportunities from last season, but he said he's with his players in being excited about going to South Bend.

"We're very different from a lot of teams in our league and a lot of teams in the country," Norvell said. "We play elite competition every year in non-conference. Those are huge games and great environments for our tea.

"Florida State (in 2011) was an incredible environment and those are lifetime memories that those kids will take with them. We would be lying if we said it's just another game. It's not. You don't get to play in South Bend very often. That's one of the unique things about playing college football at Oklahoma."

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