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Irish have history of making history vs Oklahoma

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Irish have history of making history vs Oklahoma

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Heisman Trophy winners and national champions. One historic blowout. One historic upset. One of the most memorable collisions in college football history.

Notre Dame and Oklahoma have not played often, but they have produced some classics - most won by the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame leads the series 8-1. No team has had as much success against the Sooners having played at least that many games.

``It's a great trivia question because most people would be astounded,'' said Jay Wilkinson, son of Bud Wilkinson, who coached the Sooners to three national championships in the 1950s.

The Sooners were ranked in the top 10 in six of those games, while the Irish were in the top 10 four times.

They are both in the top 10 again, and set to play for the first time since 1999 on Saturday night in Norman.

No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1) will try to hand No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) its first loss of the season and derail the Irish's national championship hopes.

The most memorable game between the two featured just one touchdown.

The Sooners had won back-to-back national titles in 1955 and '56, and had won an NCAA-record 47 straight games. The Irish were coming off a school-worst 2-8 season in which they had been embarrassed at home by Oklahoma 40-0, the most lopsided home loss in Notre Dame history.

The Irish came into that 1957 game off consecutive losses to Navy and Michigan State, and arrived in Norman, Okla., as 18-point underdogs.

``I think deep down we thought we were going to get our fannies kicked,'' said Dick Prendergast, an end on the Irish team, now a 75-year-old periodontist in Long Grove, Ill.

But he said the Irish, coached by Terry Brennan, were inspired by two things. When they arrived in Norman, they saw signs saying the Irish had no chance against the Sooners. Then when they went to the hotel in Oklahoma City, they were greeted warmly by the manager until he saw Notre Dame had a black player, halfback Aubrey Lewis.

``He said, `I'm sorry, we can't have you as guests here.' Everyone shut up. We wanted to know what he meant by that. He said, `Well, we don't tolerate blacks,''' Prendergast said.

Prendergast said the Irish got back on the bus and drove about 15 miles to what he described as a second-rate hotel where there was one shared bathroom.

``By this time, our feelings were getting emotional. It had an effect on us. Because we all liked Aubrey,'' he said. ``We were really pepped up for this game. It did more to get us up for this game than coach Brennan could have said or anyone else could say.''

The Irish won when Dick Lynch scored on a pitch, running wide to the right on fourth-and-3 with 3:50 left.

``It just shows if you believe in miracles, one happens,'' former Notre Dame end Dick Royer said.

The loss likely cost the Sooners a third straight national championship as they finished 10-1.

``That would have been amazing,'' Oklahoma running back Clendon Thomas said.

Wilkinson said his father regretted not opening up the offense more.

Brennan said the difference between the '57 game and the loss the season before was that the chances the Irish took worked as opposed to the year before, when a young Irish team turned the ball over repeatedly, with Thomas and Tommy McDonald both scoring on interceptions.

``They beat the heck out of us,'' said the 84-year-old Brennan, who still attends a game at Notre Dame Stadium every season. ``If we played them straight up we'd lose 20-0, so I figured why not take some chances and go for it. We only lost 40-0.''

Paul Hornung, who won the Heisman at Notre Dame in 1956, remembers being in an all-star game after the season with Oklahoma center Jerry Tubbs, who had trouble snapping the ball back to him when Hornung was punting.

``He said, `Paul I'm sorry. You know we never punted at Oklahoma,''' he said.

The series between the two powers began in 1952 and featured that season's Heisman winner, Billy Vessels, against '53 winner John Lattner of Notre Dame. With the score tied at 21 after an Irish touchdown, Notre Dame's Dan Shannon tackled Oklahoma's Larry Griggs, knocking both players out and the ball loose. Al Kohanowich recovered for the Irish at the Oklahoma 25, and Tom Carey scored the game-winning touchdown for the Irish.

The Irish won again the next season 28-21 en route to a 9-0-1 record in Frank Leahy's last season.

The Irish also won a pair of games in 1961 and '62, then beat the 10th-ranked Sooners 38-0 en route to winning the national championship in 1966. The third-ranked Irish beat the fifth-ranked Sooners 45-21 to open the 1967 season. The final victory came in 1999, when the Irish beat the 23rd-ranked Sooners in Bob Stoops' first year as coach.

``There have been a lot of great games,'' Wilkinson said. ``I'm sorry they didn't get to play more.''

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.