Notre Dame Football Primer: #16 Irish face #19 Oregon State in the Sun Bowl

The Fighting Irish are returning to the Sun Bowl for their first appearance since 2010.

Quarterback Steve Angeli will get the assignment against the #19 Oregon State Beavers this week. After finishing last season with 9 wins and a bowl victory, Marcus Freeman looks to punctuate his second year in South Bend with a 10th victory and 2nd bowl trophy. Both programs have been through turnover with coaches, the transfer portal, and NFL departures, but this game still means a lot to each fanbase. This Sun Bowl will be one of the most highly anticipated matchups outside of the College Football Playoffs.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: Friday, December 29th at 2:00 PM ET on CBS
  • Location: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
  • Matchup History: Notre Dame is 0-2 against Oregon State (Last Meeting 2004 Insight Bowl: Beavers won 38 to 21)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -6.5


  • Conference: Pac-12
  • Head Coach: Trent Bray
  • 2023 Record: 8-4 (5-4)
  • 2022 Record: 10-3 (6-3)

Weather Forecast

The current GameDay forecast shows a 5% chance of rain, with a high of 58 degrees and a low of 33.

Oregon State Storylines:

Head Coach Jonathan Smith leaves for Michigan State. The world of college football will pass anyone by who does not act promptly. Coach Smith left for East Lansing immediately, and the Oregon State Football program promoted Defensive Coordinator Trent Bray to take over as Head Coach.

Since his departure, the Beavers have lost two quarterbacks in the transfer portal, along with numerous other players. Although the names will change, Oregon State enters Friday’s clash with a 2-0 record against Notre Dame, and they are looking to remain undefeated against the Fighting Irish.

Ben Gulbranson will get the start this week. In his career, Gulbranson is 128 for 205 (62 %) with 1,525 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 11 sacks taken. On the ground, he has 40 carries for 52 yards (1.3 yards per carry) with 5 rushing scores.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Steve Angeli gets his first career start. Sam Hartman was initially going to participate in the bowl game for Notre Dame. Still, after looking over his NFL future, he has decided to forgo his final game in an Irish uniform.

Angeli is 19 for 25 this season with 272 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, and no sacks taken. The Irish Quarterback has not recorded a carry or scramble in 2023 but can run.

Coach Freeman is seeking his first “10-win” season. Notre Dame lost 3 of their 4 matchups with teams that finished ranked in the final College Football Playoff Poll (#7 Ohio State, #15 Louisville, #22 Clemson, with a victory over #18 NC State). When this season could have spiraled out of control, Marcus Freeman secured 9 wins with an inadequate offensive coordinator and lackluster wide receiver room.

Finishing the 2023 calendar with double-digit wins and a victory over another ranked opponent would go a long way toward keeping the momentum with the transfer portal and coaching additions.

Countless Irish players have opted out or entered the transfer portal. Yes, Marcus Freeman has added several key pieces this past month. However, the athletes who opted out, entered the portal, and incoming transfers will not participate in this game. This is a rare opportunity for younger players to step up and prove they deserve playing time next Fall.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Oregon State Defense: The Fighting Irish Offense will look completely different with no Sam Hartman, Audric Estime, Joe Alt, or Blake Fisher, just to name a few. It is still being determined what fans can expect to see with Steve Angeli under center and Coach Gino Guidugli calling the plays.

The Oregon State Defense will have the advantage, as this short-term Irish Offense looks to move the football with a brief period of preparation.

Advantage: Oregon State

Oregon State Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Oregon State Offense was led by former Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei all season. Now, the Beavers will rely on their third-string quarterback to put up points.

Al Golden’s defense returns most of their starters from an imposing defense. If they continue to get pressure on the quarterback like they did in the second half of the season, the Beavers will struggle to score points.

The Fighting Irish have the advantage in this category.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Spencer Shrader is 14 for 20 this year, with his longest conversion at 54 yards. Conversely, Oregon State’s kicker Atticus Sappington is 13 for 14, with his longest conversion at 48 yards.

Advantage: Tie

My Prediction:

It is hard to believe the season is already over. With a 12-team playoff format coming in 2024, it will be frustrating if the Fighting Irish do not make the postseason this time next year.

Although this is not a New Year’s Six Bowl game, the Notre Dame fanbase is excited to see the Fighting Irish take the field one last time. Irish fans are only guaranteed 12 games each Fall and, ideally, a few more when their team is having a successful year. Friday provides the final opportunity for fans to watch Notre Dame until next season when the Irish open up at Texas A&M.

This will be a lowering scoring contest. If the Irish want to finish with 10 wins, then Al Golden’s defense must dominate this matchup. Notre Dame’s Offense will do enough to put some points on the board and eventually pull away in the second half. I have the Fighting Irish winning by two touchdowns.

Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Oregon State 20

You may also like

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button