Decisions that defined OU in 2012: No. 3

From QB Landry Jones staying to defensive coordinator Mike Stoops arriving, the storylines were many for the 2012 Sooners. But sometimes, the small decisions turned out to be big ones that defined the season, too. With that in mind, here are the five decisions that probably made the biggest impact on Oklahoma's 2012 season.

On July 27, 2007, Oklahoma and Notre Dame announced plans to play a home-and-home series, with the Irish set to come to Norman on Oct. 27, 2012.

The Irish were a 3-9 team in 2007. But in 2012, they had their best season in almost 25 years and arrived in Norman undefeated. After three hard-fought quarters, Notre Dame pulled away in the fourth and prevailed 30-13 on its way to a national championship appearance. With two losses, the Sooners were officially out of the national championship picture.

What if OU had not scheduled Notre Dame? The Sooners still would not have reached the national title game. Notre Dame would have made it anyway, and OU would have finished behind any one-loss team from the SEC. The Sooners probably still wouldn't have advanced to a BCS bowl, as the bowl outlook would have been the same. But OU would have entered the AT&T Cotton Bowl at 11-1. And even with a loss there, an 11-2 season would have had fans feeling at least a little better about the 2012 campaign.

Instead, OU finished 10-3, and lost to all three of its top-15 opponents.