Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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28 JANUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY ANDREW MENTOCK W ith a 7-5 record, Iowa State has the fewest total wins of a Notre Dame bowl op- ponent since the Fighting Irish defeated the 6-6 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 29-16 in the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl. Notre Dame was 8-4 in the regular season that year. Predictably, many Irish fans are upset by the prospect of their 10-2 team slumming it with such a foe in a non-New Year's Six bowl game spon- sored by an outdoor retail company. It's worth noting, however, that Iowa State fans are also upset with a 7-5 regular season and, while the Cy- clones may not be considered an ap- pealing college football brand, the pro- gram has earned an unprecedented level of respect — at least in this cen- tury — during the past three years. From 2006-16, the best finish to an Iowa State season was 7-6. Un- der head coach Matt Campbell, Iowa State has won at least seven games in each of the last three seasons, claiming eight victories in both 2017 and 2018. Even more impressive is that just one of their five defeats this season was by double digits — a 27-17 loss to Kansas State to close out the regu- lar season. Three of their other losses came against teams in the top 20 of the College Football Playoff com- mittee's final rankings: No. 16 Iowa, No. 7 Baylor and No. 4 Oklahoma. In those three matchups, Iowa State lost by a total of four points. On the flip side, the Cyclones' best win of the season was over 7-5 Texas, their lone victory against a team with a record above .500 this year. Still, given Iowa State's recent track record against ranked teams, it would be foolish to think Notre Dame can win this in cruise control. The Cy- clones are more than capable of giving the Fighting Irish all they can handle. "That's just kind of Iowa State's M.O. — to play the tough opponents close, and sometimes come out on top," said Paul Clark, publisher and owner of OFFENSE For much of the season, Iowa State's success seemed solely predi- cated on how sophomore quarter- back Brock Purdy performed and, for the most part, he has played with the poise and maturity necessary to live up to that level of pressure. "He's been very good this year," Clark said. "Sometimes he's been great. Sometimes he's been just good, but he's a natural leader. He's a guy that seems to play older and wiser than his actual age and experience. "The college game has never seemed too fast for him. If anything, Iowa State has tended to throw the ball more than maybe it needed to this year." During the regular season, Purdy completed 66.3 percent of his throws for 3,760 yards with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He is also the Cyclones' second-leading rusher with 265 yards and eight touchdowns. Nine interceptions may not sound like much, but Purdy has had some issues with turning the ball over in big moments. In Iowa State's 34-27 loss to Oklahoma State, he threw three interceptions in the second half. Purdy also threw a pick on the team's final offensive play against Oklahoma, when the Cyclones were down one and trying to complete a two-point conversion for the win. After Purdy, freshman running back Breece Hall is probably the most important piece to Iowa State's suc- cess on offense, after seeing limited time earlier in the year. He ran for 842 yards and nine touchdowns, av- eraging 5.0 yards per attempt. He also has 19 receptions for 207 yards and one score en route to first-team Freshman All-America accolades from Pro Football Focus and second- team notice from The Athletic. GAME PREVIEW: IOWA STATE Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME VS. IOWA STATE Game Info Date: Dec. 28 Site: Camping World Stadium (65,194) in Orlando, Fla. Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET Television: ABC Radio: This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129) and on Notre Dame's IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This will be the first meeting between Iowa State and Notre Dame. Head Coaches: Iowa State — Matt Campbell (26-24, fourth season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (91-37, 10th season). Noting Iowa State: The Cyclones are going bowling for the third straight season and the 15th time in program history … This marks the second time in school history Iowa State has made bowl games in three consecutive seasons (2000-02) … ISU is 4-10 all time in bowl games … The Cyclones last postseason win came in the 2017 Liberty Bowl, where it beat Memphis 21-20 … Iowa State tied for third in the Big 12 with a 5-4 league record, which marks just the fifth time since 1959 it placed third or better in its conference standings … ISU appeared in the College Football Playoff rankings for the third straight year … The Cyclones set school season records in points scored (409), touchdowns (53), total offense (5,504) and passing yards (3,820) this fall … Iowa State is ranked in the top 30 nationally in both total offense (20th, 458.7 yards per contest) and scoring offense (26th, 34.1 points per game), with both averages on pace to eclipse school season standards set in 1976 … A total of 21 Cyclones earned All-Big 12 honors, with redshirt sophomore tight end Charlie Kolar, fifth-year senior offensive lineman Julian Good-Jones and redshirt junior defensive back Greg Eisworth landing on the first team, sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy, freshman back Breece Hall, senior receiver Deshaunte Jones, redshirt junior tight end Chase Allen and fifth-year senior nose guard Ray Lima picking up second-team recognition, and 13 others garnering honorable mention … ISU tied a school record for sellouts in a season (three) and shattered its home season attendance mark by averaging 59,794 fans per game. STORM WARNING The 7-5 Cyclones are likely much better than their record may indicate

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