Beyond the Boxscore: Breaking Down Notre Dame’s 40-8 Pounding of Oregon State

In a virtually flawless performance, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish closed out their 2023 season with a 40-8 Sun Bowl win over the Oregon State Beavers on Friday afternoon. The victory gives the Irish a final record of 10-3 on the year, while the Beavers conclude their season with an 8-5 mark.

Both teams were dealing with major absences in their respective lineups due to transfers and opt-outs. Yet, the depth possessed by Notre Dame quickly became evident as the Irish dominated the line of scrimmage for much of the contest. Oregon State’s lone score came in the latter part of the final quarter, with the game no longer in doubt.

Below are some of the key aspects of the Irish victory:

Severe Ball Control

Holding onto the ball for just over 40 minutes can often be a recipe for winning, with Notre Dame strongly endorsing that philosophy on the day. That striking disparity led to the Irish dominating in multiple statistical categories, most notably with Notre Dame holding a commanding advantage in total yardage of 476 to 197.

The Irish offered a balanced attack with their running game contributing 244 of those yards on 5.1 yards per carry. Meanwhile, their passing attack, led by Steve Angeli, ended the afternoon with 244 yards on 15 of 19 pass attempts.

Taking Advantage

Notre Dame was able to double its lead just before halftime, thanks to Oregon’s State decision to go for it on fourth-and-six at their own 49. That strategy blew up in the faces of the Beavers after a five-yard loss and gave Notre Dame prime field position in OSU territory. The Irish’s seven-play drive culminated with a one-yard score by Jadarian Price.

That touchdown helped wipe away the sting of an earlier drive that seemed to put the Irish on target for their second end zone visit. In that situation, they had first down at the Beaver 24, gaining five yards on their next two plays. However, when Steve Angeli lost 16 yards on a sack, the ensuing 50-yard field goal attempt by Spencer Shrader missed, leaving the Irish with nothing to show for that drive.

The Price Was Right

When Audric Estime decided to opt out of this game, additional pressure was placed on the remaining running backs to deliver. Collectively, that was accomplished, with Price bringing home the best individual performance by gaining 106 yards and scoring one touchdown. That output was attained on just 13 carries, giving him an average of 8.2 yards each time he toted the ball.

Jeremiyah Love provided much of the early push on the ground, ending the afternoon with 47 yards on 15 carries. The 244 yards gained by this unit marked the fourth time in 2023 that the Irish had rushed for over 200 yards in a game and the second straight after a season-high 381 in the rout of Stanford.

Business as Usual

The Notre Dame defense largely avoided the transfer issues that plagued the offensive side in recent weeks and put together another strong performance. The only score they allowed was a late score against a reserve-laden lineup. This group completely shut down the Beavers’ running game, allowing them just two net yards.

That minuscule amount was aided by four Notre Dame sacks on the afternoon but they also stopped two Oregon State drives on downs. Irish defenders also managed to turn a Beavers’ goal-line stand into two points by collecting a safety on the first play of the ensuing drive. Stopping the chains from moving was another major factor as Notre Dame made eight of nine stops on third down and one of three on fourth down.

Wideout Weapons

After watching the receiving corps take a lethal hit just after the regular season, questions about Notre Dame’s passing game were part of the buildup to this game. By the time it was over, the duo of Jordan Faison and Jayden Thomas showed just how much potential this group still possesses.

Faison led all receivers with five receptions for 115 yards, scoring one touchdown. He set the tone almost immediately with a 55-yard reception on the Irish’s first scoring drive. Thomas, whose 2023 campaign was marred by injury, came back with a flourish, grabbing four Angeli tosses for 59 yards. including the first touchdown of the afternoon.

Next Up

The offseason officially now starts, even if Notre Dame has already been busy adding more players through the transfer portal. With the combination of new talent and the arrival of recently hired offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock, the anticipation begins for the 2024 season. That campaign gets underway on August 31 at Texas A&M and should make for an interesting dynamic. New Notre Dame quarterback Riley Leonard is likely to start behind center and will try to defeat his former Duke mentor, Mike Elko, who was hired by the Aggies late last month.

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  7. I might not have this correct but it is my understanding that even if ND went undefeated next season and were hands down the #1 ranked team, the highest they would be seeded would be #5. The top 4 seeds and first round byes go to the four conference Champs from the SEC, BIG12, ACC, and BIG10. That would be a hard pill to swallow.

  8. Something to be concerned about. 2014 CFP.
    With the Big Ten and SEC being such large conferences you can bet each Will will have 2 teams in the CFP. 2 Group of 5s will each have one too. So 8 out of 12 spots likely taken going in. However, with the Group of 5s likely coming from outside the top 12 rated teams that means an independent has to be in the top 10.
    With Notre Dame’s schedule next year, they likely need to go undefeated and also dominate at least one of their marquee games.
    The coaching staff better have everything in place now.

  9. Notre Dame has a ton going right. But now there’s one glaring hurdle in the way of a CFP berth n 2024. A 12th game.
    They better get one with a reasonably decent opponent. And soon.

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