Fiesta Bowl has Oklahoma State (9) Vs. Notre Dame (5)

Notre Dame marching band

Saturday January 1, 2022 at 1:00 pm ET on ESPN

There are a few interesting matchups in this year’s New Year's Six bowls, but perhaps none more than two teams that had a legitimate shot at making the College Football Playoffs. The Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish lock horns in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, and for the Fighting Irish, it represents one of the more unique situations in recent Bowl game history. Shortly after the regular season ended, long-time Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly announced he was accepting the head coaching position at LSU. Stepping in to replace Kelly is former Notre Dame defensive coordinator, Marcus Freeman. Needless to say, the short-term coaching change should see Notre Dame stick to a similar game plan as the regular season. Both teams are likely disappointed in not making the College Football Playoffs, but we can assume that Notre Dame would love to get their new coach a win, especially after the way Brian Kelly left the program. The Cowboys had one of the best defensive units in the nation this year, ranking 26th in total yards per game, 14th against the run, and 38th against the pass. On the other side, Notre Dame had a stellar defense in their own right, recording 15 interceptions this season, albeit against weaker competition. A key injury to note is that of Oklahoma State running back Jaylen Warren who ran for 11 touchdowns and over 1,100 yards on the ground this year. If he is out, it puts more pressure on Spencer Sanders and the offensive line. In a matchup between two defenses I do like the under here, but for college bowl games it is important to note the psychology of the players. The Cowboys really have no incentive to be there, while Notre Dame wants to get the Freeman Era off to a good start. Take the Fighting Irish at -2.0 as a small favorite.

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