Notre Dame Sun Bowl takeaways: Irish defense dominates Oregon State, Steve Angeli stellar

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EL PASO, Texas — No. 16 Notre Dame cruised to a 40-8 triumph against No. 19 Oregon State successful nan Sun Bowl connected Friday. Here are immoderate first takeaways from nan Irish’s triumph against nan Beavers (8-5) to decorativeness 10-3:

Notre Dame’s defense showed up

Maybe Oregon State interim coach Kefense Hynson knew what was coming erstwhile he talked done Notre Dame’s defense nan time earlier nan Sun Bowl, listing disconnected really nan Irish would commencement 9 seniors, moreover aft having different 2 opt retired of nan game. Despite nan fading relevance of insignificant vessel games, Hynson knew Oregon State would get a defense fresh to dainty this for illustration a College Football Playoff game. And considering nan Beavers were down 2 quarterbacks, 3 violative linemen, nan apical moving back, apical receiver and apical tight end, this each felt for illustration ngo intolerable for Oregon State.

It was.

Oregon State’s first 4 drives totaled 56 yards and 4 first downs. Its 5th ended pinch a Benjamin Morrison interception. And that was nan only play nan Beavers ran successful Irish territory until nan 4th fourth pinch nan crippled already decided.

The statistical carnage should transportation complete to adjacent play for Notre Dame considering really overmuch talent returns, assuming information Xavier Watts follows Jack Kiser, Howard Cross and Rylie Mills successful coming backmost for a prize year. Javontae Jean-Baptiste, JD Bertrand and DJ Brown will depart from nan Sun Bowl lineup, but if protect coordinator Al Golden returns arsenic expected, Notre Dame has nan instauration for a Playoff-caliber defense.

The nation’s No. 1 walk ratio defense terrorized Oregon State backmost Ben Gulbranson, who was sacked 4 times, and nan Beavers vanished pinch 197 full yards. Notre Dame’s defense allowed conscionable 8 touchdown passes each play while intercepting 16. Notre Dame mightiness not look different force arsenic decimated arsenic Oregon State, but nan defense proved each twelvemonth that it tin look middling title and trim it to a bid of punts and turnovers — and it moreover added a information successful nan 4th quarter.

FINAL

Notre Dame 40
Oregon State 8

There’s cereal everyplace pic.twitter.com/fJcbvRPTvf

— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) December 29, 2023

Angeli sewage nan thief he needed

This was really it was expected to look, thing Sam Hartman astir apt noticed while watching from nan sideline connected Friday.

First-time starter Steve Angeli sewage plentifulness of protection from a reworked violative line, but nan large alteration was nan accumulation astatine wide receiver. Jayden Thomas returned to afloat wellness from a September hamstring wounded that sidetracked his inferior year, putting up 4 catches for 59 yards. Jordan Faison continued to make “former walk-on” and “lacrosse” footnotes successful his Notre Dame career, posting 5 catches for 115 yards. Both scored a touchdown.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Steve Angeli plans to savor his infinitesimal arsenic Notre Dame's starting quarterback

It was each a stark departure from nan regular play erstwhile Notre Dame grounded to nutrient astatine wide receiver, possibly portion of nan logic why Marcus Freeman moved connected from Chansi Stuckey for Mike Brown arsenic coach of nan position. Regardless, immoderate Brown did successful vessel prep worked.

Thomas looked for illustration nan seasoned receiver that Notre Dame lacked each year, capable to beryllium successful zones and get unfastened against man coverage. Faison was nan big-play threat nan Irish person been hopeless to find, getting heavy doubly against Oregon State, erstwhile for a 55-yard drawback from Angeli. Notre Dame’s wide receivers had produced 1 100-yard crippled successful nan erstwhile 25 games, making nan accumulation particularly notable.

Angeli completed 14 of 18 passes for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns and added 27 yards rushing.

With Duke transportation Riley Leonard enrolling adjacent month, it’s not clear what opportunities await Angeli astatine Notre Dame during outpouring practice. But nan Irish would emotion to person nan sophomore enactment to compete for nan job. Few players grabbed nan opportunity of nan vessel play much than nan quarterback.

Angeli finds Faison

Another Irish touchdown ☘️#GoIrish☘️ pic.twitter.com/etsKpMG5IZ

— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 29, 2023

Irish younker activity accelerated forwards

In position of religion successful nan adjacent procreation of Notre Dame’s offense, Freeman showed plentifulness to commencement nan crippled erstwhile nan Irish took complete astatine nan 4-yard line. Notre Dame started 5 freshmen successful near tackle Charles Jagusah, receivers Faison and Jaden Greathouse, tight extremity Cooper Flanagan and moving backmost Jeremiyah Love.

Then nan Irish welt connected an 11-play, 96-yard touchdown drive. Notre Dame ne'er looked back.

Much of nan accomplishment talent connected discourtesy will recreation pinch Notre Dame to Texas A&M to commencement adjacent season, which should springiness incoming violative coordinator Mike Denbrock confidence. Denbrock made an quality successful El Paso during nan week to concisely meet pinch nan squad aft his prosecute from LSU was made official.

Love and sophomore moving backmost Jadarian Price some impressed successful spot of Audric Estime, combining for 158 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns. Price’s 106 rushing yards were a profession high. Love scored connected a 13-yard dump-off from Angeli successful 4th quarter, making aggregate defenders miss earlier reaching nan extremity zone.

Much was mislaid to opt-outs and coaching changes — quarterbacks coach Gino Guidugli called plays aft violative coordinator Gerad Parker’s departure for Troy — but it hardly looked for illustration it.

Is nan vessel bump real? Notre Dame will find out.

A twelvemonth agone Notre Dame knocked disconnected South Carolina successful nan Gator Bowl, past rode an offseason of bully vibes pinch Hartman’s presence that carried nan Irish consecutive into that prime-time showdown pinch Ohio State. Notre Dame was ne'er rather nan aforesaid aft that heartbreaking loss, but it benefitted from nan soft runway that came from a vessel win.

Now Notre Dame gets to do it each complete again.

With nan defense returning mostly intact, nan coaching unit upgraded and nan young discourtesy getting acquisition successful nan Sun Bowl, Notre Dame will beryllium seen arsenic a beardown contender to make nan first 12-team College Football Playoff. And pinch a softer schedule — there’s nary Ohio State adjacent twelvemonth — it would almost beryllium a daze if nan Irish didn’t make it.

Bowl games mightiness not mean what they erstwhile did to nan play that conscionable finished. Notre Dame’s 19 opt-outs and NFL Draft declarations propose arsenic much. But Friday’s blowout of Oregon State could still mean plentifulness successful really Notre Dame will beryllium viewed during nan adjacent 8 months aft winning 10 games and finishing successful nan apical 20.

And there’s worth successful that.

(Photo of Jadarian Price and Steve Angeli: Sam Wasson / Getty Images)

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