Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2024

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

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32 JANUARY 2024 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BOWL PREVIEW: OREGON STATE BY TYLER HORKA OREGON STATE RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE The player responsible for 54.6 percent of Oregon State's regular season rushing output will not play in the Sun Bowl. Sophomore Damien Martinez ran 194 times for 1,185 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2023. He's suspended for the postseason because he was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants in late November. Redshirt senior Deshaun Fenwick backed up Martinez all year and ran 90 times for 500 yards. He scored 5 rushing touchdowns. Oregon State ranked 35th nationally with 180.83 rushing yards per game. Due in large part to Marti- nez, the Beavers greatly exceeded expected output. Their 35.75 rushing attempts per game ranked 70th. It'll be interesting to see how Fenwick, a sixth-year senior, handles starting duties. He has not carried the ball at least 20 times in a game since last year's Las Vegas Bowl versus Florida. He ran for 107 yards on 21 rushing attempts in a 30-3 Oregon State victory. That was actually the only time in his 46-game career that he's had at least 20 carries in a single game. As of Dec. 12, the only Notre Dame defensive line- man from the regular season rotation who made it known he would not be participating in the Sun Bowl was graduate student defensive end Nana Osafo-Mensah. He entered the transfer portal and announced his next destination as TCU. How well- equipped Notre Dame is to stop Fenwick and who- ever else Oregon State gives the ball to on the ground may depend in large part on opt-in/out decisions of defensive tackle Rylie Mills and defensive end Javon- tae Jean-Baptiste as well as linebackers JD Bertrand and Jack Kiser. The more of those guys who are play- ing the better for the Fighting Irish, but we'll roll with the guys in blue and gold regardless in this phase of the game. Advantage: Notre Dame OREGON STATE PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE Notre Dame needs to go back to the 2022 season to find film on Oregon State's starter. Fourth-year redshirt sophomore Ben Gulbranson is making his first start since the Las Vegas Bowl last year. In 2023, he's only attempted 1 pass. He was the third-stringer behind Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei and Aidan Chiles, both of whom are now in the transfer portal. For his career, Gulbranson has completed 128 of 204 throws (62.7 percent) for 1,525 yards with 10 touch- downs and 5 interceptions. He started eight games last season and went 7-1 in those matchups. Gulbranson is a pro-style quarterback. His feet aren't going to beat you with his legs very often; he ran for 52 yards on 40 carries in 2022. But five of those carries were touchdowns, so he is a threat to get a yard if that's all the Beavers need. With Uiagalelei, Oregon State ranked 52nd in the nation with 246.1 passing yards per game. Wide receiver Antony Gould and tight end Jack Velling On PaPer Redshirt senior running back Deshaun Fenwick will serve as Oregon State's lead ball carrier in the Sun Bowl. He rushed 21 times for 107 yards in the Beavers' 30-3 win over Florida in last year's Las Vegas Bowl, the only time in his 46-game career that he's had at least 20 carries in a single game. PHOTO COURTESY OREGON STATE ATHLETICS

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