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Opponent First Glance: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Taking a first glance at Notre Dame's Fiesta Bowl opponent, the Oklahoma State Cowboys

Notre Dame will meet Oklahoma State on New Year’s Day in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. This will be the first-ever matchup between the two programs. Both Notre Dame and Oklahoma State enter the game having just missed the College Football Playoff. The Irish finished fifth in the final rankings while Oklahoma State fell inches short to Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game when they were stopped just short of the goal line.

Marcus Freeman has a giant opportunity in his first game as Notre Dame head coach. A win against the Cowboys would end Notre Dame’s 26-year drought of major bowl wins while also reversing the narrative of Notre Dame poor performances against Top 10 opponents.

Freeman better have Notre Dame ready to play from the first whistle, as Oklahoma State presents a tough matchup for the Fighting Irish. This team stands in contrast to typical Cowboy – and Big 12 – teams. Oklahoma State has only an average offense but is led by one of the top defenses not just in the conference, but in the entire country. 

Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 in every major defensive statistical category and ranks third nationally in total defense. The strength of the Cowboy defense is the defensive line, which leads the nation in sacks and tackles for loss and only allows opponents to convert 25.8% of third-down conversions, good for second nationally. In the past two games against top-ten opponents (Oklahoma and Baylor), the Cowboys did not allow a defensive point in the second half.

Game Date: Saturday, January 1st
Start Time: 1:00 PM ET
Network: ESPN
Current Line: Notre Dame -2.5; O/U 44.5

We kick off our deep dive into the Cowboys with a first glance look at the coaching staff, results, and statistical leaders.

HEAD COACH – MIKE GUNDY, 17th season

Oklahoma State Record: 148-69
Overall Record: 148-69

Mike Gundy is a legend in Stillwater, having been a four-year starter for the Cowboys from 1986-1989, and graduated as the Big Eight conference’s all-time leader in passing yards and total offense. He immediately joined the Oklahoma State coaching staff, where we would coach through the 1995 season. After stops at Baylor and Maryland, he returned to Oklahoma State as the offensive coordinator in 2001 before taking over as head coach in 2005 after Les Miles left to take the LSU job. Gundy has turned around a program that had limited historical success and made them a consistent winner.

Offensive Coordinator: Kasey Dunn, 2nd season
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Knowles, 4th season

2021 RESULTS (11-2)

Missouri State – Won 23-16
Tulsa – Won 28-23
at Boise State – Won 21-20
Kansas State – Won 31-20
Baylor – Won 24-14
at Texas – Won 32-24
at Iowa State – Lost 24-21
Kansas – Won 55-3
at West Virginia – Won 24-3
TCU – Won 63-17
at Texas Tech – Won 23-0
Oklahoma – Won 37-33
Baylor – Lost 21-16 (Big 12 Championship)


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Rushing: RB Jaylen Warren – 237 att., 1134 yards, 4.8 YPC, 11 TD; QB Spencer Sanders – 129 att., 539 yards, 4.2 YPC, 6 TD; RB Dominic Richardson – 78 att., 370 yards, 4.7 YPC, 4 TD; RB Dezmon Jackson – 48 att., 139 yards, 2.9 YPC, 2 TD; RB Jaden Nixon – 14 att., 122 yards, 8.7 YPC, 1 TD

Passing: QB Spencer Sanders – 209 com., 341 att., 61.3%, 2460 yards, 16 TD, 12 INT, 130.33 rating; QB Shane Illingworth – 28 com., 50 att., 56.0%, 385 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 136.48 rating

Receiving: WR Tay Martin – 70 rec., 942 yards, 13.5 YPC, 7 TD; WR Brennan Presley – 40 rec., 466 yards, 11.7 YPC, 5 TD; WR Blaine Green – 21 rec., 314 yards, 15.0 YPC, 1 TD; WR Jaden Bray – 12 rec., 241 yards, 20.1 YPC, 1 TD; WR Rashod Owens – 16 rec., 232 yards, 14.5 YPC, 1 TD; RB Jaylen Warren – 19 rec., 191 yards, 10.1 YPC, 0 TD; WR John Paul Richardson – 19 rec., 126 yards, 6.6 YPC, 2 TD; WR Bryson Green – 11 rec., 122 yards, 11.1 YPC, 2 TD

Tackles: LB Malcolm Rodriguez – 120; LB Devin Harper – 85; S Kolby Harvell-Peel – 62; CB Jarrick Bernard-Converse – 48; S Jason Taylor II – 46; DE Brock Martin – 38; CB Christian Holmes – 37; S Tanner McCalister – 37; DE Tyler Lacy – 34

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Tackles for Loss: DE Collin Oliver – 15.0; LB Malcolm Rodriguez – 15.0; DE Brock Martin – 12.0; DE Tyler Lacy – 11.5; LB Devin Harper – 10.0; S Jason Taylor II – 6.5; DT Brendon Evers – 6.0

Sacks: DE Collin Oliver – 10.5; DE Brock Martin – 7.0; LB Devin Harper – 6.0; DE Tyler Lacy – 3.5; LB Malcolm Rodriguez – 3.0; DT Brendon Evers – 3.0; DT Israel Antwine – 3.0

Interceptions: S Kolby Harvell-Peel – 3; S Jason Taylor II – 2; S Nick Session – 1; S Tanner McCalister – 1; CB Christian Holmes – 1 

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Irish Breakdown Content

Notre Dame 2021 Roster
Notre Dame 2021 Schedule

Notre Dame 2022 Commits Big Board: Offense
Notre Dame 2022 Commits Big Board: Defense

Notre Dame 2022 Scholarship Offers

Notre Dame 2022 Class Big Board
Notre Dame 2023 Class Big Board


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