Looking ahead: OU to go with Blake Bell vs. Notre Dame

Looking ahead: OU to go with Blake Bell vs. Notre Dame
September 16, 2013, 5:45 pm
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The Belldozer will roll into Notre Dame later this month with an unexpected wrinkle.

Blake Bell, long viewed as nothing more than a short-yardage battering ram, will start for Oklahoma on Sept. 28 against Notre Dame in South Bend, coach Bob Stoops announced Monday. The Sooners are off this weekend and defeated Tulsa 52-20 on Saturday.

Stoops named true freshman Trevor Knight his starting quarterback prior to the season, and Oklahoma's offense sputtered in a 16-7 in over West Virginia in Week 2. An injured Knight sat out the Tulsa game, in which Bell torched the opposing defense for 413 yards and four touchdowns through the air.

"It's a testament to his character that he didn't get down, he didn't get negative, he kept working," Stoops said on Monday. "He got his opportunity and was ready for it. He took all kinds of advantage of it. When you go through a year, somebody has to step up and continue to play for the team. Blake is a great example of persevering and get your opportunity and take advantage of it."

[More: After narrow victory, Notre Dame searching for its identity]

In his first two years in Norman, the 6-foot-6, 252-pound Bell completed 10 of 20 passes for 115 yards with an interception while backing up Landry Jones. But he scored 13 touchdowns in 2011 and 11 in 2012, proving to be nearly impossible to tackle in short-yardage situations. He scored the first rushing touchdown against the Irish defense last year in Norman, which was Notre Dame's eighth game of the season.

"If he's on the field, we're going to have to do something really extraordinary, because he's a tough guy to stop," coach Brian Kelly said before last year's game.

If Bell's performance against Tulsa is any indication, he'll once again be tough to stop -- but not just on the ground.