Staff Predictions: Camping World Bowl
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, December 27, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds — Managing Editor
The time has arrived: the Camping World Bowl, in all its glory. Jokes aside, though, this matchup is more the product of bad luck than a death sentence by the committee for the Irish. However, it’s the cards they’ve been dealt, and now they have to take care of business in Orlando. The Cyclones are a textbook upset team. At 7-5, they barely qualified for bowl play, but that’s only scratching the surface. A 5-4 conference record landed them third place in the Big 12, including a one-point loss to No. 4 Oklahoma and a two-point loss to No. 7 Baylor, both on the road.
While the Cyclones are certainly better than their record indicates, so too are the Irish. A near-win in Athens and an ugly loss in Ann Arbor stain their season, but the difference between them and the next five or so ranked teams is marginal. With little to gain with a win but everything to lose with a loss, I expect the Irish to defeat the Cyclones, but it won’t be pretty. Iowa State is by no means going to be rattled by Notre Dame, and the Irish will have to do their part to beat them.
FINAL: Notre Dame 31, Iowa State 24
Connor Mulvena — Sports Editor
I really have no desire to explore the matchups or schematics here, and I don’t think many Irish fans do, either. To me, that attitude seems indicative of this whole trip to Orlando. A 10-2 season is fine, and although I’ve been harsh on the team this season, they ought to be proud of some of the hurdles they overcame throughout the year. The Stanford losing streak is over. The Irish travelled to SEC country and proved they could perform with the best. The defense under Clark Lea still has the ability to show out and shut down some of the big boys out there. Of course, there were some disappointments that I’d rather not reflect on during this joyous Christmas season. But let’s not pretend the Camping World Bowl is going to change any of that. Notre Dame is Notre Dame, and Notre Dame doesn’t get up for the Camping World Bowl against random Big 12 opponents, and nor should they. I don’t think the Irish will come out with a particularly fantastic energy here. I think they’ll ultimately come out on top because I don’t think Iowa State’s accolades are impressive in the context of a conference which is nothing but high-powered offenses going wild every weekend. I think Notre Dame comes out on top, but not by much, and I don’t think it particularly matters, to be quite honest.
FINAL: Notre Dame 27, Iowa State 21
Hayden Adams — Associate Sports Editor
Despite the hopes and prayers of Notre Dame fans that the Irish would slip into the Orange Bowl, the analysts proved correct, and they are in the Camping World Bowl. Even more unfortunately, the prevailing prediction that Notre Dame would take on Oklahoma State didn’t come true, so the immovable object that is Clark Lea’s defense won’t face the unstoppable force that is running back Chuba Hubbard, the leading rusher in the nation. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact opposite. Instead of the 16th-ranked rushing and 71st-ranked passing attack nationally in Oklahoma State, the Irish get the 95th-ranked rushing and eighth-ranked passing attack from Iowa State.
Iowa State is one of the best 7-5 teams in the country, as backhanded a compliment as it sounds. They lost against Iowa, at Baylor and at Oklahoma by a combined four points, and they are helmed by sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy, who is fifth in the FBS in passing yards with 3,760 on the season. It’ll be interesting to see how Notre Dame’s fifth-ranked pass efficiency defense will fare against them, especially considering the Cyclones will likely be far more excited than the Irish for the first matchup in the history of these programs. Not having Chip Long to call plays certainly hurts, but with no key Irish contributors out for the game, and the culture Brian Kelly has established, I expect the Irish to be up for this game and come away with an 11-win season.
FINAL: Notre Dame 45, Iowa State 35
Jack Concannon — Sports Writer
This feels like a matchup the Irish really could not win on the national stage. They are playing a 7-5 but sneaky-good Iowa State team that was just a few breaks away from double-digit wins this season (a claim many teams could likely state, but the point remains). The quality of this Iowa State team can be seen in Las Vegas, who have the Cyclones a modest 3.5 underdog against the Irish, the third least favorable pre-game spread the Irish have faced this year. This is far from a cakewalk, yet a win would do little to satisfy nationwide naysayers who claim the Irish cannot win big games. On the flip side, a loss would be another neutral site loss for the Irish under Brian Kelly, and perhaps a costly one for future cycles.
Despite the nature of this game, I believe the Irish will be up for it. They have dominated since a scare at home against Virginia Tech, winning their last four games by a minimum of 21 points. Iowa State falls into a tier of good-but-not-great squads that Kelly has consistently beaten over the last three years. The Irish have not lost to an unranked team since 2016, and I do not expect that streak to end Saturday.
FINAL: Notre Dame 41, Iowa State 28
Ellen Geyer — Sports Writer
The Irish got a rough draw this year. The Camping World Bowl against Iowa State? Notre Dame has a solid program and a fan base that travels religiously, so I was surprised by this poor outcome.
Frankly, I’m not sure this game really matters all that much. Sure, picking up another bowl win would be great for Brian Kelly, but losing to a solid Iowa State program wouldn’t be too embarrassing. Either way, national attention is going to be elsewhere on the 28th. With several weeks to prepare and an offense corps of seniors with plenty to play for, I’m optimistic that the Irish will come out with some spunk on Saturday. The absence of Chip Long will be notable, but not insurmountable.
For the sake of ending the season on a high note, I think Notre Dame can take this one home, albeit by a slim margin.
FINAL: Notre Dame 35, Iowa State 27