Notre Dame was eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday when the Chaos Saturday we all were hoping for never materialized. Their consolation prize is not too bad, however, with a New Year’s Day matchup in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State (10-2). The Irish return to the Fiesta Bowl for the first time in six years to face the Cowboys for the first time in program history.
Notre Dame finished the regular season ranked 5th, just outside the playoffs while Oklahoma State finished 9th after coming up inches short in the Big12 Championship. Marcus Freeman will get his head coaching debut in a New Year’s 6 Bowl game with an opportunity to do what Brian Kelly never did in 12 years – win a BY6 bowl game.
The two face off on New Year’s Day with a 1:00 PM ET kickoff as opposed to a Thursday night showdown in the Peach Bowl – the other possible bowl matchup the Irish could have landed in.
For the Irish, a Fiesta Bowl berth seemed unlikely following the loss to Cincinnati given the struggles at the time. Notre Dame seemingly had no offensive line and no answer at quarterback. A second-half surge, however, propelled the Irish back in the NY6 and within inches of a playoff berth.
Oklahoma State entered Championship weekend ranked 5th, but fell to Baylor who started a backup quarterback. The Cowboys has a chance to win with a 4th and goal from the one-yard line in the final 30 seconds but came up inches short of converting and winning the Big12 Championship.
In terms of possible matchups for the Irish in an NY6 game, this is favorable. Oklahoma State has a strong defense but did not look particularly strong yesterday against Baylor – specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Aside from their loss to Baylor, the Cowboys also lost to Iowa State and the fighting Matt Campbells earlier this year. They struggled against Texas in mid-October, but like Notre Dame, they finished the season strong.
The last NY6 bowl game Notre Dame won was back in January 1994 when the Irish beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. In BCS/NY6/Playoff bowl games, Notre Dame has an 0-7 record all-time. Bob Davie lost his only BCS game, Charlie Weis both of his, and Brian Kelly had an 0-4 record in BCS/playoff/NY6 games.
Notre Dame’s last appearance in the Fiesta Bowl was at the end of the 2015 season. The Irish lost to Ohio State 44-28 in the game and star linebacker Jaylon Smith suffered a gruesome knee injury in the contest.
This could be a favorable match-up for ND this time around. Now I don’t mean that it will be easy. Just that ND has a better shot at taking down Oklahoma State then they would say a team like Alabama.
And to be honest, throwing Freeman into the fire like that probably would have been a bit much for a HC’s debut. OK State is a winnable game if ND prepares and plays to their strengths. It helps that almost the entire coaching staff will still be there. It also helps the team will probably have a bit, let’s just say extra motivation to try to win this game. Obviously not the only thing they will be thinking about, but it can’t hurt.
Reports are Venables to OU. Crystobal probably going to Miami.
This highlights another whole sub-story to Saban’s crazy legacy….how he can just keep everyone, or replace anyone at the drop of a hat, with even better. Often with experience-oozing former head coaches. It’s fooking ridiculous.
Fer crissakes, with all its money, Belichek in New England couldn’t avoid SOME rebuild stumbles, SOME tarnish….and they cheat!
You could call this 28 year major bowl drought “The Curse of Bob Davie.” It began in 1993 when ND lost to BC after beating Florida State. That set in motion the following sequence of events. Rick Minter was the DC that year and in line for a head coaching job at the end of the season. As a result of the BC loss the best he could do was the Cincinnati job. ND played Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl instead of playing Nebraska in the Orange Bowl for the National Championship. ND struggled some with the Texas A&M defense and Lou was impressed and in need of a DC he hired Texas A&M’s Bob Davie and the rest is infamy.
Laughing at the Big 12 is just a fashionable slur…something SEC parents teach their 4 year olds.
Having said that, it future is uncertain. Texas was particularly idiotic to throw away its regal position in that league to step into permanent wannabe stsatus in the SEC.
I see this as a very challenging game. OK. St. has a very good D’ and Gundy has the athletes to pressure (and will) NDs very good but not very mobile QB. What concerns me still is an OL that doesn’t run block that well (Kyren got by far most of his amazing 1000+ yards after contact), and Ok. St. will be NDs second toughest opponent and we all know how NDs toughest opponent did against them. Plus Ok. St. was playing vs. Baylor with their 3rd string QB (they also lost C. Brewer, their starting QB, earlier this year). If QB Bohanon, a mobile QB who presents more of a challenge to any D’ and their RB Warren are back, NDs D’ will be tested but I believe they’ll be up for it. Looking forward to NDs schemes without BK, especially with the extra 15 practices that BK never took advantage of with his predictability and his “they just didn’t execute” excuses after every big loss. A win in a NY6 bowl (or a CFP game as well) will be something BK never did in his 12 years, so that would be a great start for Coach Freeman and a great team farewell to the man who chose to “follow the money” like most do- but not exactly the best timing. A Fiesta Bowl bid vs. OSU, and then starting off next year at tOSU, not an easy way for Freeman to start off his tenure. Go Irish!
Bohnanon is Baylor’s injured QB.
1) NDs running offense is slow, uncreative and predictable. Any team from the south is going to find it ridiculously simplistic.
2) A great way to calm down a super-aggressive defense is to use its speed as bait.
Screens, toss sweeps, shovel passes, misdirection runs.
A month is enough time to install some.
C’mon Tom…you finally got the car keys.
I hope that KH will play. It’s probably his last chance to wear a gold helmet – and he might be medically cleared by then. I feel certain that he will want to support his teammates and Coach Freeman with his best efforts, if healthy. Watching the Cowboys against the Bears, it looked like neither team wanted to win for the longest time. But I think they will be a formidable opponent for us – and I know Coach Freeman will have them fired up! Should be a great gane.
An interesting, novel pairing.
Of note, RB Jaylen Warren was out yesterday…he’s damn good and tough; played with his injured ankle in the OU game, but was a no-go against Baylor.
Might have been the difference, given the increased reliance on the pass and the struggles the QB had.
I’d presume he’ll be 100% for the bowl.
ND will be ready, and this is a winnable game, but by no means a gimme.
It can finally be said: Playing ND is their bowl game!”
Kyle Hamilton will sit out, but ND has done a nice job replacing him. Oklahoma State had a great pass rush, so that is the biggest threat to ND.
Mike – “I’m a man! I’m 40!” – Gundy better be ready. This looks like a much easier game on paper than Pitt. Hopefully, Freeman has our boys ready as well….
I don’t know that fans of a team that (very happily) cheered Brian Kelly for 12 years has any basis to make coaching taunts.