The 2021 Notre Dame football season will be remembered for many things:
Will the 2021 season end on a high note as Notre Dame looks to end their drought of not having won a major bowl game since January of 1994?
Here is how the Fighting Irish Wire staff sees the Fiesta Bowl going…
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Those who feel football has gotten too offensive-minded will see this game as a breath of fresh air as both teams have vaunted defenses who will try to avoid being the first to blink. With a virtual push in this matchup, this will come down to the offenses, even with the opt-out of Kyren Williams putting somewhat of a damper on things. I guess when you put it that way, the quarterbacks might have more pressure than anyone else on the field to succeed. That being the case, Jack Coan will squeeze out just a little more production than Spencer Sanders, and that will be enough to snap Notre Dame’s long losing streak in major bowls.
Prediction: Notre Dame 29, Oklahoma State 22
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Bowl games are so difficult to predict, especially in the era of the College Football Playoff. Team’s chemistry during the regular season is completely different with coaching changes on both sides, Brian Kelly leaving the Irish to start anew in Baton Rouge and Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles leaving for the other OSU, Ohio State. Player’s opting out, Kyren Williams and Kyle Hamilton for the Irish who are impact players not suiting up. Marcus Freeman gets his first opportunity to impress as the new head coach, Mike Gundy the stalwart for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys and the Irish are evenly matched so this one should go down to the wire. Unfortunately, due to Gundy’s experience, Freeman’s debut won’t go as many of us want with a narrow defeat but setting up for a big first full season next year.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 24, Notre Dame 20
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When this was one of the rumored matchups initially for the Irish, especially after watching Oklahoma State comeback against Oklahoma, I was not excited about the prospect. But then they played Baylor. Not exactly an impressive performance. During that game, it became clear to me if you can play sound defense, force mistakes, not make mistakes on offense, and get the ball to your perimeter playmakers, you can win the game. The Cowboys are going to try to control the clock on offense with tailback Jaylen Warren and quarterback Spencer Sanders. Being in a situation where Sanders is forced to throw is not where the Cowboys want to be, but my guess is that the turnover hungry Irish defense will try to push him there. This Notre Dame front seven has a chance to feast. On offense, not having Kyren Williams will be a blow, but Jack Coan will be the most important player for the Irish on that side. He needs to get the ball out of his hands quick to avoid the dangerous Cowboys’ pass rush and put it in the hands of Kevin Austin and Michael Mayer. I would not be surprised to see Tommy Rees open up the offense a little and use a lot of 11 personnel out of shotgun and sling it around the yard early. No team has rushed for more than 4.3 yards per carry in any game this season against Oklahoma State and as much as the Irish offensive line has come along, this will be a pass before run type of contest. And I fully expect this contest to end with an Irish W.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Oklahoma State 16
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If you like shootouts then you’ve come to the wrong place despite this taking place in the wild, wild west. Notre Dame has survived without Kyle Hamilton for nearly half the season but the loss of Kyren Williams will be significant, even if Logan Diggs and Chris Tyree are plenty capable backs. Oklahoma State’s defense is among the best in the nation and don’t often allow big plays. This will be a battle of who shows up with intensity and who makes the least amount of mistakes? Jack Coan threw five interceptions all season while Spencer Sanders threw seven alone in two games against Baylor. Advantage Irish.
Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Oklahoma State 20
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