Founder, The Sports Court
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Team. After longtime head coach, Brian Kelly, left the program right before the possibility of making the playoffs, the players, staff, and fans were left shocked and wondering what was left of this chaotic season.
Many called for Luke Fickell from Cincinnati to take over as head coach. Some were rooting for Pat Fitzgerald from Northwestern. However, nobody was more favored and wanted than a defensive coordinator, Marcus Freeman.
A cool, calm, and collected, brilliant young mind, Marcus Freeman is also one of the best recruiters in the nation. Freeman helped recruit all the current players at Cincinnati who are third in the country and the upcoming Notre Dame classes which both rank top 5 in the country.
Notre Dame’s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick noticed this and jumped quickly on hiring Marcus Freeman. Players, recruits, and fans were relieved and confident with the decision.
The passion that the players had for Freeman was shown when he was announced as the head coach in the locker room. Freeman, a former Ohio State linebacker, was pumped, and all the players jumped on him celebrating.
Now, freeman and the Irish will have a tough test on their hands in their bowl game in Glendale, Arizona. After narrowly missing out on the College Football Playoffs, Freeman and the Irish will compete for the Fiesta Bowl against #9 Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State, who also recently held the fifth spot in the college football rankings, is a fantastic football team who came inches away from beating Baylor in a heartbreaking Big 12 Championship Game that went down to the very final whistle.
Baylor, relieved to get out of the game with a win, were pushed to the limits by an Oklahoma State team.
Notre Dame’s defensive line will be the difference-maker in their clash against Oklahoma State. If the likes of Isiah Foskey can step up to the plate and pressure Blake Shapen, OKST’s QB who threw three interceptions against Baylor.
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line must stay strong and support Jack Coan, who isn’t the most mobile of quarterbacks.
Tommy Rees should also make sure to find Kevin Austin throughout the game. Austin, the most reliable deep threat for the Irish all season long, has racked up 42 receptions for 783 yards and 6 touchdowns throughout the season.
Overall, both teams have a lot of questions coming into the Fiesta Bowl, and both will do their best to answer them.
CHRIS’ PREDICTION: I have Notre Dame winning this game 34-23. Notre Dame has a great defense, explosive offense, and most importantly, a chip on their shoulder following the departure of Brian Kelly.
Kelly’s departure left Notre Dame players shocked, confused, and angry. Now with Marcus Freeman at the helm, these players know they have lots to prove and will use their frustration out on the field.
For some players, such as QB, Jack Coan, this will be the last game they ever play for the Irish, and I believe they will leave on a high, winning the Fiesta Bowl at the beautiful, State Farm Stadium.