Although both programs have been around for more than a century, Notre Dame and Iowa State never have faced one another in football.
That will change Saturday afternoon when the No. 15 Fighting Irish (10-2) meet the Cyclones (7-5) in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Notre Dame enters the weekend with an 18-19 record in bowl games, while Iowa State is 4-10 in bowl appearances.
Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly believes that a win could set a positive tone heading into next season.
“I think it builds obviously a lot of momentum going into your offseason when you’re able to win a bowl game,” Kelly recently told reporters. “Certainly, doing it against quality opposition. … I think it just catapults you into your offseason training, conditioning. It builds a great deal of confidence as you get ready for next season.”
Notre Dame already has secured its third consecutive season with 10-plus victories. A pair of setbacks on the road against ranked opponents — Georgia and Michigan — ultimately prevented the Fighting Irish from making the championship run they had set out to achieve.
Meanwhile, Iowa State is looking for a successful ending to its third consecutive bowl appearance under coach Matt Campbell. The Cyclones’ five losses came by a total of 21 points, including one-point losses to ranked opponents Iowa and Oklahoma and a two-point loss to Baylor.
Campbell said he was proud of his players’ determined attitude throughout the season.
“We’ve grown a lot this year,” Campbell said to reporters. “A team that in a lot of ways is really young, in a lot of ways really got forced into a situation where high execution had to happen from the very beginning.
“It’s been an incredible journey with this group. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve grown a lot. I think the neat thing is we get the opportunities to continue this growth pattern obviously versus a phenomenal opponent in a great situation.”
Notre Dame is led at quarterback by Ian Book, who completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 2,787 yards, 33 touchdowns and six interceptions during the regular season. He also rushed for 516 yards and four touchdowns.
Book’s top target in the passing game is Chase Claypool, who needs 109 receiving yards to achieve a 1,000-yard campaign. He leads the team with 12 touchdowns, twice as many as his closest teammate, Cole Kmet, with six scores.
Iowa State will turn to quarterback Brock Purdy, who completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 3,760 yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. Purdy added eight rushing touchdowns while amassing 265 yards on the ground.
Charlie Kolar led the Cyclones with seven receiving touchdowns, while Breece Hall notched a team-high nine rushing touchdowns.
Kelly said Notre Dame could not afford to take Iowa State for granted.
“This is a really good football team that could easily be 11-1,” Kelly said. “We know what we’re getting.
“Explosive offenses in the Big 12, really solid defensively, physical football team, well coached — Matt Campbell is an outstanding football coach. It’s going to be a good football team we’re playing.”
–Field Level Media