No. 15 Notre Dame (10-2) and Iowa State (7-5) square off tomorrow in the Camping World Bowl. It marks the first time since 2016 that Notre Dame faces a Big 12 school. The Irish are 3.5-point favorites over the five-loss Cyclones.
This is a game where Notre Dame has a significant talent advantage, but it's also a contest against a well-coached football team that won't quit. Notre Dame will have to earn the victory against the Cyclones.
All of the analysis of the game is done, and now it's time to make my final prediction:
Notre Dame 34, Iowa State 17
Iowa State has a potent offense that ranks 18th nationally in offensive efficiency according to the Fremeau Efficiency Index, but the Cyclones have faced just four defenses that rank in the Top 40 of the FEI. Iowa State was held to 21 points or less in three of those four games, and they lost to three of those four teams. The only exception was 49 points against a 5-7 TCU squad.
I would argue Notre Dame has a better defense, and better talent than the other three Top 40 defenses that handled Iowa State: Baylor, Kansas State and Iowa. Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea has handled pass-heavy teams like this quite well in his two seasons in charge, and as long as his defensive line comes to play the Irish defense will have a chance to keep the Cyclones in check as well.
Offensively, this game could not be set up any better for first-time play caller Tommy Rees. The Irish skill players are as healthy as they've been all season and they face an Iowa State defense that is well-coached, but the talent gap is stark.
It all shapes up for what should be a convincing Notre Dame victory.
Bowl Prep: Iowa State Cyclones
Bowl Prep: Breaking Down The Iowa State Offense
Bowl Prep: Breaking Down The Iowa State Defense
Stacking Up: Notre Dame Offense vs. Iowa State Defense
Stacking Up: Notre Dame Defense vs. Iowa State Offense
Key Matchups: Notre Dame Defense vs. Iowa State Offense
Key Matchups: Notre Dame Offense vs. Iowa State Defense
Notre Dame vs. Iowa State: Recruiting Comparison