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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

The Observer predicts Notre Dame vs. Oregon State

Graduate student defensive lineman Javontae Jean-Baptiste returned a blocked field goal 60 yards for a touchdown to extend Notre Dame’s lead over Stanford. The Irish went on to win 56-23 to finish the regular season with a 9-3 record.

José Sánchez Córdova, Assistant Managing Editor

I'm honestly blown away by how many players are out for this game. There are almost two dozen starters between the two teams that won't be playing. The majority of those are on offense (eight for ND, seven for Oregon State), so I'm expecting a low-scoring affair. Despite Ben Gulbranson's experience, look for the Irish defense to assert itself in this game. I'm thinking that a run-heavy Irish offense will find just enough to get the win and secure a 10-win season for Marcus Freeman and the Irish. Notre Dame 17, Oregon State 7

Andrew McGuinness, Sports Editor

It’s hard to know what to expect from this game. It’s not just the volume of the opt-outs (and that Oregon State lost its head coach and Notre Dame its offensive coordinator), but the importance of the players who won’t be participating — namely starting quarterbacks Sam Hartman and DJ Uiagalelei.

Although sophomore quarterback Steve Angeli will get his looks, the Irish will likely run the ball quite a bit — that’s the reality of Notre Dame’s receiving corps and offensive line right now. But the Irish defense is still fairly intact. Some programs in these mid-tier bowl games have more at stake than others. If the training wheels were at all on this year for Marcus Freeman, they’ll be off by year three of his tenure. That means having his team ready even for non-marquee games, which has been a bit of an issue, especially away from Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish make good on that goal and head into the offseason happy but hungry. Notre Dame 24, Oregon State 13.

J.J. Post, Associate Sports Editor

It’s difficult to project how this one will look. Notre Dame seems to have a slight advantage in terms of production lost to opt-outs. But Oregon State will have the experience edge at the quarterback position. Both defenses were already entering strong (as strong as any unit can be in an era of opt-outs) and will get to tee off on offenses lacking usual starters across the board. Each team has at least one usual starter missing (either via injury, opt-outs, or transfer portal) at every offensive position group.

I don’t think this one will be grrrrreeeat to watch. It could be rather ugly. But if it is a rock fight, I’ll put my faith in the strongest unit on the field: Notre Dame’s defense. The Irish will likely look to keep the ball on the ground, and if interim offensive coordinator Gino Guidugli can get 150+ rushing yards out of any combination of underclassmen Jeremiyah Love, Jadarian Price, Gi’Bran Payne and Angeli, Notre Dame should be able to control the clock — and the game. Notre Dame 27, Oregon State 17.

Matthew Crow, Associate Sports Editor

Oregon State will pose a major test for a Notre Dame offense that has frequently struggled against top competition, particularly away from home. With the departure of offensive coordinator Gerad Parker and several key opt-outs on that side of the ball, the Irish will likely look to focus on slowing the game down through their rushing attack and leaning on their strong defense.

While he has impressed in limited action, Angeli will have his hands full against a Beaver defense that managed to hold the high-powered offenses of Washington and Arizona in check. Still, Oregon State managed just 7 points in its regular season finale against Oregon. Things aren’t likely to come much easier without starting quarterback Uiagalelei. It will be tight throughout, but the Irish will do enough to close out a 10-win season with a victory in El Paso. Notre Dame 27, Oregon State 20.

Tom Zwiller, Senior Sports Writer

As opt-outs get to higher and higher levels, my strategy this bowl season has been to look at more consistent teams. That is, which team is returning more total production, or is more likely to have a preestablished chemistry. 

Both Notre Dame and Oregon State are solid on defense, and I expect that to carry over into the Sun Bowl. I do think we are going to see Notre Dame struggle offensively — not from play calling, but just from new starters getting a feel for the game and each other. 

Oregon State does have one major advantage, and it's heavily influencing my pick. Gulbranson played in ten games for the Beavers in 2022, giving the team a bit of an edge offensively. Despite that, I like Notre Dame in a low-scoring game. Notre Dame 23, Oregon State 17.

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