Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell will be making his first ever road start on Saturday. For Sooner quarterbacks, their first game outside the friendly confines of the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium has been a mixed bag. Under Bob Stoops, Sooner quarterbacks are 3-4 in their first road starts, with none winning against BCS opponents.
Add to that the atmosphere of Notre Dame Stadium, and a family that’s packed a rental house to the rafters to watch Bell play, and it should be a special afternoon for the junior from Wichita, Kansas.
The Oklahoman’s Jason Kersey has a great story about the Bell family, a devoutly Catholic group that’ll travel 16-members to South Bend to watch Blake play.
Here’s more from the Oklahoman:
The Bells began planning this trip months ago — renting a house near the Notre Dame campus and two vans for the large group that would travel to witness Blake’s first career road start at the preeminent Catholic university.
All that planning will pay off when he trots onto the field a little after 2:30 p.m. Saturday to lead No. 14 Oklahoma against the Irish, but only a month ago, the family figured they’d spend the afternoon watching Blake watch the game.
“It’s the ideal situation: Watching him play probably the most storied program of all time, Notre Dame, and especially after the way he won the starting job,” said Austin Muck, Bell’s cousin who hadn’t planned on coming to the game until a sudden change of heart this week compelled him to travel more than 1,000 miles and sleep on a floor.
The family always stays together — or at least at the same hotel — when they travel to OU games, but they knew last spring that hotels around Notre Dame would be wildly expensive this weekend.
Then they discovered that lots of locals in South Bend rent houses to out-of-towners on game weekends and for other big campus events. Family members and a few close friends lined up to join the Bells in the rent house, despite the fact many of them didn’t have a ticket to the game.
“There was a group of them that didn’t have tickets, but they were going no matter what,” said Sherry Bell, Blake’s mom. “If they didn’t get tickets, they would’ve just watched the game somewhere in town.”
Add the minor monkey wrench that was thrown into this plan when Bell wasn’t announced the starter coming out of preseason camp, and you start to see another interesting subplot coming out of no where as Sooner fans begin making their way to South Bend.
But the Bell family was coming regardless, especially after their initial trip to South Bend in 1999 when Kansas played Notre Dame to open the season in 1999.
“Being a lifelong Catholic, to sit in the stands at Notre Dame and watch your son start at quarterback for Oklahoma … what could be better than that?” Mark Bell told the Oklahoman. “Watching Blake throw a couple touchdowns, then look up at Touchdown Jesus?”