Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl Odds and Free Picks

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Spencer Sanders #3 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Tim Warner/Getty Images/AFP

Two teams that held out hopes of making the College Football Playoff but came up short will meet on New Year’s Day in an impressive consolation prize game. Oklahoma State, who likely would have gotten a big to football’s Final Four with a win in the Big 12 title game, will meet Notre Dame, who was the first team on the outside at No. 5, thanks to a loss to playoff-bound Cincinnati.       

 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish    

Saturday, January 01, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at State Farm Stadium 

Two teams that held out hopes of making the College Football Playoff but came up just short will meet on New Year’s Day in an impressive consolation prize of a game—the Fiesta Bowl. 

Oklahoma State likely would have gotten a bid had the Cowboys won their Big 12 Championship Game against Baylor. OSU was stopped on fourth and inches at the goal line, however, and time expired on a 21-16 loss to the Bears.  

Notre Dame finished the regular season at 11-1, with the only blemish on the Irish’s schedule being a loss to Cincinnati, who, for all intents and purposes, took Notre Dame’s spot in the playoff, becoming the first non Power Five team to make football’s final four. 

Ready to Fiesta 

Despite the disappointment of missing the playoff, Oklahoma State seems all-in on the Fiesta Bowl berth. The Cowboys’ leading rusher, redshirt senior Jaylen Warren, has been going through bowl practices with the team and seems like he’s going to play, instead of opting out to prepare for the draft.  

Warren has averaged 108.8 rushing yards over the last 10 games and was ranked among the FBS leaders in rushing and scrimmage yards, despite not taking on a starting role until week three. He has the longest rush and longest catch of the season for the Cowboys.  

Oklahoma State will also have defensive coordinator Jim Knowles on hand, at least for one more day. The longtime defensive wizard is taking a similar role at Ohio State, but he’ll be with the Cowboys through the bowl game. He’ll be facing Notre Dame in back-to-back games, as the Buckeyes open next season against the Irish.  

OSU won’t be intimidated going against the Irish in the Fiesta. The Cowboys are one of just three teams to beat four ranked opponents this season, joining Alabama and Georgia. Oklahoma State also has two wins over teams ranked in the top 10—Oklahoma and Baylor (in the regular-season matchup).  

Missing Some Pieces 

Notre Dame got a shock while waiting on its postseason fate when head coach Brian Kelly announced he was leaving for LSU. The Irish appear to be holding on to most of their assistants, however, with defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman taking over as head coach and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees sticking around in South Bend. The Notre Dame special teams coach and one of the strength and conditioning coaches are the only ones who have followed Kelly, at this point. 

The Irish will be down a couple of players, however. Safety Kyle Hamilton announced he would skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Hamilton is the top player on the Notre Dame defense, suffered an injury in October, and hasn’t played since.  

Notre Dame also lost running back Kyren Williams, who is skipping the game as well. He has rushed for 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons and scored a total of 27 rushing touchdowns over that span. Rees was confident the team could replace Williams, however.  

“We feel like we have other backs who possess a similar skill set, both run, and pass. We don’t have to change a whole lot based on that,” he said, although he expressed concern over third-down pass protection, a strength of Williams.  

The Pick 

With both teams at full strength, this would have been one of the must-see bowl games of the postseason. It’s still a compelling game, but Notre Dame will be depleted. The scrambled coaching staff provides a distraction, and, despite Rees’ confidence, the running game will struggle to replace Williams.  

NCAAF Pick: Oklahoma State +2 (-105) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Oklahoma State +2 (-105)
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