Whichever team loses this game, all players are the winners: they each win a PlayStation 5 for participating in this game, thanks to the bowl sponsor Sony.
This game is defined by who is not play this game, at least on the fringes of the Irish. All American and projected among the top five draft picks Kyle hamilton will not play. Hamilton suffered an injury that put him on the sidelines for the remainder of the regular season and he thinks it’s best not to risk getting injured again in this game. What Notre Dame (11-1) loses is the fastest line-to-line safety in the country with incredible length and physique.
Notre Dame will also be without a star running back Kyren williams. Williams is a formidable passing protector and wide receiver as well as an explosive backhand. While the Irish have the depth of play to make up for his absence, it will take several multi-skilled players to fill the void.
Oklahoma State Defensive Coordinator Jim knowels will coach his last game for the Pokes (11-2) after accepting the same position at Ohio State. Knowels puts a lot of pressure on exotic and unexpected looks, which makes him one of the most effective defensive players in the country.
Mostly unrelated to this game, but noteworthy: Knowels will coach back-to-back games against Notre Dame, as Ohio State opens its 2022 season against the Irish.
The Pokes offense has been unreliable at times this year, especially in big games against strong defenses. Strategist Spencer sanders threw three interceptions, all of which turned out to be costly, against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game. Can he withstand the pressure of his first New Year’s Six game?
Coach Marcus Freeman takes over as Notre-Dame’s head coach at the start of this game. He was chosen to succeed Brian kelly, who left South Bend for LSU’s head coach suddenly after the season. Continuity is important against a talented Oklahoma State team.
Ultimately, this game comes down to trust. In this case, there’s more to trust Notre Dame and their players in the big games (see: vs. Wisconsin) against Oklahoma State. Can the fire and motivation of the Pokes triumph here? It is a difficult proposition to accept.
The choice: Notre-Dame
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