Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

By Dan Kilbridge | | 5 mins

Notre Dame vs Oklahoma State Fiesta Bowl Picks & Predictions

Notre Dame vs Oklahoma State Fiesta Bowl Picks & Predictions
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Two teams that came oh-so-close to a College Football Playoff appearance will instead settle for a New Year’s Day matchup as Oklahoma State takes on Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

Notre Dame is a slight favorite after going 11-1 with a lone loss to No. 4-ranked Cincinnati. The Cowboys came up less than a yard short in their brutal Big 12 title game loss to Baylor and now enter their first New Year’s Six bowl game since 2016.

These two schools have never played before and the Irish have a new coach in Marcus Freeman, with Brian Kelly dipping out early to get started at LSU. On the other sideline, Mike Gundy is in his 18th season with the Cowboys and has compiled a 10-5 bowl record during that time.

Let’s take a deeper look into this matchup and what it means from a college football betting perspective.

All college football odds are current as of publication. Betting sites often adjust odds, so be sure to shop around.


Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame Key Matchups

Notre Dame OL vs. Oklahoma State Front Seven: The Cowboys have one of the best run defenses in the country and will rely heavily on that front seven in this matchup. Notre Dame thrives on balance behind a strong front five, using the run to open the pass. Neutralizing the run and making Irish quarterback Jack Coan beat them is probably the best chance for Oklahoma State to get a leg up in Glendale.

Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy vs. Notre Dame Coach Marcus Freeman: Both coaches have a tough job in the sense that these teams and players know how close they were to a spot in the CFP. Whichever coach does a better job handling the disappointment in the coming weeks will have a huge advantage at kickoff. This is also Freeman’s first game as head coach of the Irish, while Gundy has been at it for 18 seasons in Stillwater. That dynamic could play in either coach’s favor depending on how they handle bowl practices and overall messaging going into the Fiesta Bowl.

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4 Key Stats For Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State

89.2: Rushing yards per game allowed by the Oklahoma State defense.

1,134 Rushing yards for Oklahoma State tailback Jaylen Warren, whose status is still uncertain due to injury.

18.3: Points per game allowed by the Fighting Irish defense.

4,052: Days since Notre Dame played a game without Brian Kelly at the helm.


Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame Moneyline

Notre Dame is currently a slight moneyline favorite in what betting apps expect to be a very close matchup. Part of that is likely due to the initial reception for new Irish head coach and former defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman.

Coaching departures can go one of two ways this time of year. A beloved figure on campus heading out the door can be deflating for a locker room. As far as Kelly goes, it doesn’t seem like he was ever Mr. Popular in the locker room. Based on initial reactions to Freeman, it seems like Notre Dame’s entire roster has been rejuvenated entering this one.

Oklahoma State has the bigger emotional hurdle to climb after failing to score a go-ahead touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line with seconds remaining in the Big 12 title game loss to Baylor. The Cowboys also may be without leading rusher Jaylen Warren, who missed the Baylor game due to injury. We see all the intangibles favoring Notre Dame and like Irish moneyline.

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Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame Point Spread

The Irish are small favorites on the betting board and have seen the line swing even more in their favor after opening at -1.5.

We didn’t like what we saw from the Cowboys offense against Baylor. With no Warren to rely on, quarterback Spencer Sanders was asked to do more. It didn’t go well. Sanders threw four interceptions and averaged just 5.4 yards per pass.

The Cowboys defense is very good, but Notre Dame’s offense has been remarkably consistent all season. The Irish hung 41 on the nation’s sixth-best scoring defense in a win over Wisconsin earlier this season, and quarterback Jack Coan wasn’t healthy when Notre Dame lost its only game of the season to Cincinnati.

The Irish have made peace with their current spot, and we expect an inspired performance against the Cowboys. We like Notre Dame to cover, and we jumped on it at Caesars Sportsbook. New bettors can us the Caesars Sportsbook promo code for a first-bet match up to $1,001.

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Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame Total

The total is hovering in the mid-40s at sportsbooks, which makes sense considering how stout these defenses have played for most of the year. We just don’t like it enough to make an official pick either way.

This is right in the danger zone for totals, especially with a Notre Dame offense capable of putting up points in a hurry. The majority of bets are on the Over and the majority of money is on the Under, which leads us to believe a few bettors are underestimating these defenses. The problem is it only takes a few fluky bounces or turnovers to swing a total like this Over, even if Under seemed like the correct play.

We’d lean Under here, but we’re not putting any money on it.

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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.