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May 23, 2024

Oregon State Faces Notre Dame in Sun Bowl Looking to Cap Special Season

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Dec 29, 2023

The No. 19 Oregon State Beavers are set to take on the No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Friday in the 90th Annual Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. This matchup features two ranked teams looking to end their seasons on a high note after missing out on a New Years Six bowl.

Last Minute Preparations

Oregon State arrived in El Paso on Christmas Eve and has been using the lead up to prepare for Notre Dame’s tough defense. The Beavers are looking to send interim head coach Trent Bray out with a win, as Bray took over after Jonathan Smith left to take the Arizona State job.

The key for Oregon State will be trying to run the ball against a stout Notre Dame defensive front. Running back Damien Martinez leads the ground attack and Bray is confident in the game plan:

“I feel good about the run game plan we’ve put together,” Bray said. “We need to control the line of scrimmage.”

Notre Dame also arrived in El Paso early and is using the extra time to implement an overhauled offense. New offensive coordinator Gerad Parker has installed a more wide open system and the Irish want to air it out against Oregon State’s porous pass defense.

Quarterback Drew Pyne is expected to be healthy after missing time late in the year with a shoulder injury. Having Pyne at 100% gives Notre Dame’s offense a fighting chance.

Game Essentials

Date/Time: Friday, December 30 3pm ET
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas
TV: CBS

Keys to the Game

Oregon State

  • Control time of possession with the ground game
  • Limit big plays from Pyne and WRs
  • Get pressure on Pyne and force mistakes

Notre Dame

  • Let Pyne sling the ball early and often
  • Stuff the run and make Oregon State one-dimensional
  • Create takeaways from Oregon State’s backup QB

Season Recap

Both Oregon State and Notre Dame has plenty of ups and downs during the 2022 campaign.

Oregon State’s Path

The Beavers raced out to a 7-3 start and were ranked as high as No. 15. But they struggled late in PAC-12 play, dropping contests to Washington, Cal, and Oregon. A win over Oregon would have sent Oregon State to the conference title game.

Date Opponent Result
9/3 Boise State W 34-17
9/10 Fresno State W 35-32
9/24 at Utah L 16-42
10/1 at Stanford W 28-27
10/15 Washington State W 24-10
10/29 at UCLA L 38-41
11/12 California L 24-41
11/19 at Arizona State W 31-7
11/25 Oregon L 38-42

With a 8-4 record, Oregon State still landed an impressive bowl matchup with Notre Dame. Beating a traditional power like the Fighting Irish would validate the Beavers as a program on the rise.

Notre Dame’s Path

Expectations were sky high for Notre Dame as they returned quarterback Tyler Buchner and loads of talent. But Buchner went down early in the year with a shoulder injury and the Irish struggled mightily on offense all season.

A September home loss to Marshall quickly dampened the mood in South Bend and even October wins over BYU and Syracuse failed to get much momentum going. The low point was undoubtedly a blowout home loss to rival Stanford in the final game.

Date Opponent Result
9/3 at Ohio State L 10-21
9/10 Marshall L 21-26
9/17 California W 24-17
9/24 at North Carolina L 32-45
10/8 BYU W 28-20
10/29 at Syracuse W 41-24
11/5 Clemson L 0-35
11/19 Boston College W 44-0
11/26 at USC L 27-38
12/3 Stanford L 27-45

Sitting at 8-4, Notre Dame is likely disappointed to find themselves playing in the Sun Bowl after having hopes of making the College Football Playoff. However, taking down a ranked Oregon State team could generate some positive momentum going into 2023.

Players to Watch

Oregon State QB Ben Gulbranson – With starting QB Chance Nolan in the transfer portal, Gulbranson will make his 4th career start against Notre Dame. He doesn’t have overpowering arm talent but has proven to be a solid game manager. Limiting turnovers will be critical if Oregon State wants to move the ball against the stout Irish defense.

Notre Dame WR Jayden Thomas – The Sophomore receiver has a chance to be WR1 for the Irish next season and wants to build momentum. With size and leaping ability, Thomas poses a big matchup problem for Oregon State’s smallish cornerbacks.

Oregon State LB Easton Mascarenas – The first team All-PAC-12 performer keys the Beavers defense. His ability to make plays sideline to sideline could limit Notre Dame’s rushing attack.

Prediction

This game features two teams with contrasting strengths. Oregon State wants to lean on their ground game while Notre Dame will look to beat the Beavers through the air. If Gulbranson can avoid back-breaking mistakes, Oregon State has a chance to send interim coach Bray out with a signature win. But Notre Dame’s overall talent advantage gives them the edge to finish a disappointing year on a high note.

Notre Dame 31 – Oregon State 27

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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