Fiesta Bowl pits No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State

Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Notre Dame (11-1) against No. 9 Oklahoma State (11-2), Jan. 1, 1 p.m. Eastern (ESPN).

Line: Notre Dame by 2 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Two teams that just missed the College Football Playoff have a chance to end the season with a major bowl win. Notre Dame needed a bit of chaos in the final weekend of the regular season but didn’t get it, ending up fifth in the final rankings. Marcus Freeman will make his debut as head coach after being promoted following Brian Kelly’s departure to LSU. Oklahoma State ended up ninth in the final rankings after Dezmon Jackson’s reach for the end zone pylon in the closing seconds came up inches short in the Cowboys’ 21-16 loss to No. 9 Baylor in the Big 12 championship game.

KEY MATCHUP

Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams vs. Oklahoma State’s defense. The Cowboys have a dominating run defense, finishing sixth in the FBS at 91.2 yards per game. The Cowboys held Baylor, the Big 12’s best running team, to 62 yards in the Big 12 title game. Williams is Notre Dame’s leading rusher with 1,002 yards and 14 TDs. Being able to run the ball against Oklahoma State even a little could take some of the pressure off Irish QB Jack Coan.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Notre Dame: TE Michael Mayer. The 6-foot-4, 251-pound sophomore was one of the nation’s best tight ends this season, finishing first in the Power 5 with 64 receptions and 768 yards receiving with five touchdowns.

Oklahoma State: QB Spencer Sanders. The junior threw for 2,468 yards and 16 touchdowns, adding 543 yards and six more scores on the ground this season. Sanders had four interceptions in the Big 12 title game, but bounced back to lead the Cowboys nearly the length of the field for a chance to win.

FACTS & FIGURES

The game is being played at State Farm Stadium, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. … Oklahoma State is 2-0 in the Fiesta Bowl with wins in 1974 and 2002. … Notre Dame is 1-4 in the Fiesta Bowl, its only win over West Virginia in 1988. … Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is 10-5 in bowl games, with wins in four of the past five. … The Irish are ninth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 18.2 points per game. They’re also eighth with 40 sacks. … Oklahoma State is facing top-10 opponents in three consecutive games in the same season for the second time in program history (with 1976). The Cowboys beat No. 10 Oklahoma before the loss to Baylor. … Coan completed 67.6% of his passes this season, third all-time in program history. He threw for 2,641 yards and 20 TDs with six interceptions after transferring from Wisconsin.

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