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1999 Notre Dame game a turning point for Oklahoma

The only players at Notre Dame and Oklahoma that weren’t in elementary school the last time the teams met are the ones that were in kindergarten at the time. When the Irish visit Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium this Saturday night, it’ll be the teams’ first game against each other since 1999. But there’s one guy who distinctly remembers that game — Sooners coach Bob Stoops.

Hard to forget blowing a 30-14 lead and losing 34-30. Especially when it’s your first year as head coach.

“I was asked this morning what I remember about it, and I said I remembered getting up by 17 points and not knowing how to win,” Stoops said on Monday afternoon. “I told my staff when we got home from the game, I said our guys hadn’t ever been up on anyone by 17 points.”

That 1999 team went 7-5 — Oklahoma’s first winning record in six seasons. And despite the collapse, that strong performance against Notre Dame was a sign of things to come for the Sooners, who went on to go 13-0 and win the national championship in 2000. They’ve been a perennial power ever since.

Stoops pointed to that Notre Dame game as a learning experience for his team and his program.

“I know we weren’t satisfied about it,” he said. “We were up 17 points and I look around and see a bunch of guys laughing and giggling and knew they had no idea. We still had a whole half (to go), and sure enough we didn’t know how to keep it.”