Despite a more than respectable 10-2 record, a season-closing four-game winning streak, and a No. 15 national ranking, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish find themselves relegated to a bowl game four days before New Year’s Day. The Irish play an opponent so lightly regarded, that in the 133 years of Notre Dame football, the two teams have never met. But the Iowa State Cyclones may yet prove to be a difficult opponent for the 11-time national champions.
After facing eventual College Football Playoff winner Clemson in the Cotton Bowl last year, Notre Dame will now play in the Camping World Bowl against a 7-5 team that lost three of its last five games in 2019, according to SB Nation. Four of those five Iowa State losses came against ranked opponents, by a combined 11 points.
The Cyclones’ ability to pull off a Camping World Bowl upset rests on the arm of sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy, who rather quietly ranked fifth in the nation in passing yards per game, with 313.3. The 20-year-old also tossed for 27 touchdowns in his 12 games, while surrendering just nine interceptions — the same number the Fighting Irish defense collected all season. He also boasts a pair of 300-yard passing games this season, though both came in losses, according to Bleacher Report.
CBS Sports previews the Camping World Bowl Notre Dame vs. Iowa State matchup in the video below.
The Irish come in with the third-ranked passing defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and with with an average margin of victory topping 29 points in the team’s final four games. Behind 21-year-old senior signal-caller Ian Book, Notre Dame boasts the 13th-ranked offense in the country at 37.1 points per game, according to USA Today.
Purdy’s Cyclones rank 26th, at 34.1 per game. Perhaps as a result, Notre Dame enters the bowl game as 3.5-point favorites, as reported by USA Today. The Irish went 8-4 against the spread this season. Iowa State, on the other hand, covered the spread in only half of their 12 games.
Notre Dame also boasts the better record in recent bowl games, winning three of their last five, though in the Cotton Bowl — which was also a playoff semifinal — against Clemson last season they were steamrolled, 30-3.
The Cyclones played against the Washington Huskies in last year’s Alamo Bowl, losing that one 28-26. Iowa State has dropped the decision in three of the last five bowl games in which the team has appeared.
The Notre Dame vs. Iowa State Camping World Bowl kicks off at noon ET at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The game will be televised nationally by ABC.