We are just two days away from Notre Dame (10-2) and Iowa State (7-5) squaring off in the Camping World Bowl. The Fighting Irish remain a 3.5-point favorite, and to come out on top the Notre Dame offense must play well against a Cyclone defense that lacks the talent of its counterpart.
To win there are four matchups that Notre Dame must have success with in order to come out on top.
WR #83 Chase Claypool vs. CB #26 Anthony Johnson, CB #2 Datrone Young
Iowa State cannot match up against Notre Dame wideout Chase Claypool, at least not in one-on-one situations, and I’m sure defensive coordinator Jim Heacock knows that. But there will be plenty of scenarios where Claypool will get opportunities to make plays against the Iowa State corners, and when that happens the Irish senior wideout needs to dominate.
I don’t expect Iowa State to leave Claypool one-on-one on many snaps, but if the Notre Dame coaches can show some creativity with their game plan and play calling they will be able to get Claypool isolated for a few deep shots. If the quarterback reads things out correctly. Claypool should also find himself open on comeback and out cuts against the off coverage of the corners.
Iowa State will likely play off against Claypool for much of the game, or at least show press and then bail at the snap. If that happens then he’ll get quick game catches that give Claypool a chance to do damage after the catch, which is another area he can and should dominate this matchup.
C #55 Jarrett Patterson vs. NG #58 Ray Lima
Iowa State is a quality run defense, and a big reason is the play of nose guard Ray Lima. While the 6-3, 305-pound defender doesn’t bring much as a pass rusher, he’s a physical and imposing run defender. Lima doesn’t make a lot of plays for himself (just 2.5 TFL’s on the season), but when he’s on his game he dominates opposing centers, driving them off the ball and freeing up run through lanes for the linebackers and forcing offenses to double team him with a guard, which makes it hard to get bodies on the rangy linebackers.
Sophomore center Jarrett Patterson has been a good pass blocker for much of the season, impressing me with his quickness and ability to anchor in the pass game. Where he has been more inconsistent is as a run blocker, and when the center gets beat in the run game it makes it very difficult to run the football effectively, especially against a defense like Iowa State.
Notre Dame needs to be able to run the football, and that happen only if Patterson is able to hold his own against Lima.
TE #84Cole Kmet vs. LB #23 Mike Rose and S #11 Lawrence White
If Iowa State is forced to spend as much time guarding against Notre Dame’s outside receivers (Claypool, Braden Lenzy, Lawrence Keys III) as I think it will, and should, it will put tight end Cole Kmet in some very favorable matchups. Simply put, Iowa State doesn’t have the man power to take out both Kmet and Claypool, so at least one should be able to have a big game.
Iowa State linebacker Mike Rose and safety Lawrence White combined to give up 63 catches this season (according to Pro Football Focus). Depending on where Kmet lines up he’ll be matched up quite a bit with one of these two defenders. To the field I expect Rose, a linebacker/rover type of player, to be matched up against Kmet. Rose has the length and range to matchup with Kmet, but he lacks the Irish tight end’s athleticism and power. White can run with Kmet, but he has a size disadvantage.
Kmet needs to be on top of his game, and the Irish coaches need to move him around and get him in isolations. If they do that and quarterback Ian Book reads things out there’s a chance for Kmet to have a big day for the Irish. If Kmet goes off it will make the offense impossible to stop because it will open up the outside throws and take the pressure off the run game.
LT #74 Liam Eichenberg, RT #75 Joshua Lugg vs. DE #9 Will McDonald
This is more of a situational matchup, which is why it is last. Freshman end Will McDonald is basically a third-down/nick specialist that rushed the passer on 90 of the 118 snaps he played this season. He was used much more in November, and the talented freshman racked up five sacks in Iowa State’s final three games.
McDonald has an impressive first step and he’s long, reminding me of a young Julian Okwara. He can run around tackles on the outside and he has the hand strength and athleticism to use double moves. If the Irish offensive tackles aren’t on their game he could create third-down havoc for the Irish offense by either beating the tackles, or forcing the Irish to adjust their protections to defend him, which then opens up rush lanes for the backers.
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
Notre Dame vs. Iowa State: Recruiting Comparison