Oklahoma St. vs

Notre Dame

at Glendale
Sat, Jan 1
10:00 AM Pacific
Rotation: 277
Odds: Notre Dame -2.5, Total: 45

Game Analysis

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2-Star Best Bet – **Oklahoma State (+2.5 -115)  26   Notre Dame  19

Notre Dame looks a lot better than they are, as the Irish outscored teams by 17.0 points per game despite outgaining them by just 77 total yards per game. The Irish were only 8.6 points per game better than their opponents from the line of scrimmage and they added 1.1 points per game in special teams value. The Irish were fortunate to be +11 in turnover margin (projected to be +2.5 in turnover margin), which equates to 3.0 points per game in turnover luck and the rest of the difference between their scoring margin and their stats can be explained by their defensive redzone efficiency being better than projected based on their overall level of play. The Irish allowed just 3.8 points per opponents’ redzone opportunity, which is very low. The top 5 defensive teams in the nation allowed a combined 4.0 points per redzone opportunity and the Irish would be projected to allow 4.63 PPRZ based on their defensive metrics and the defensive redzone variance accounts for another 2.5 points of scoring margin.

Notre Dame’s scoring margin was higher than it should have been based on turnover luck and redzone variance and the Irish are also overrated because of some of the luck they had in facing opposing teams with the worst versions of their offense. The Irish faced Toledo before QB Finn took over as the starter; they faced Purdue before O’Connell became the starting quarterback; they faced Wisconsin before superstar RB Braelon Allen became the featured back (Allen had zero carries against ND and the rest of the Wisconsin backs were horrible); they faced Virginia without the nation’s total yardage leader QB Armstrong (the backup was horrible an averaged just 3.7 yppp); and they faced Georgia Tech with Yates at quarterback (-2.1 yppp pass rating) instead of facing Sims (+0.4 yppp rating). That’s a very significant amount of luck in the version of teams that they faced being worse than those teams were overall.

The Irish were also worse without All-American S Kyle Hamilton, who missed the final 6 games and won’t play in this game. Hamilton’s impact has been overlooked because it sems like the Irish defense has played just as well, but that’s not the case when you consider that they faced Virginia without Armstrong and Georgia Tech with Yates and allowed just 3 points total in those two games. The Irish gave up 6.5 yards per play combined to USC, North Carolina, and Stanford, who all had their starting quarterbacks playing in games without Hamilton. Notre Dame’s defense is just 0.4 yppl better than average with current personnel after accounting for the opposing quarterbacks that they faced (and facing Wisky without Allen).

Oklahoma State’s offense was 0.1 yppl worse than average for the season but they played the first two games against FBS teams without star WR Tay Martin, who was injured in the first series against Tulsa and didn’t play against Boise State. The Cowboys’ offense improved when Martin returned to the lineup in week 4 but the loss of WR Blaine Green, who won’t play in this game, is a negative. Top running back Jaylen Warren, who was banged up down the stretch and had zero runs versus Baylor in the Big-12 Championship loss, is as healthy as he’s been since the TCU game in week 11 according to his coach and his return to health is a boost given that backup Dom Richardson averaged just 3.6 ypr. The defection of RB Dezmon Jackson is also a plus given his horrible 2.9 ypr on 48 runs this season. The net of all of that is that Oklahoma State enters this game with an average offense from a yards per play perspective, but they do control the ball and have a +12.7 plays from scrimmage differential – partly because of the design of their offense and partly because their defense forces a lot of 3-and-outs. Oklahoma State is projected to run 74.6 plays for 421 yards at 5.65 yards per play.

The Cowboys are good because they have an elite defense that ranks behind only Georgia in compensated yards per play allowed. That unit yielded just 4.4 yards play to a schedule of mostly good FBS offenses that would combine to average 6.3 yppl against an average defensive team. Notre Dame has been just 0.6 yppl better than average offensively and should be a bit worse without top running back Kyren Williams, who opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. Williams wasn’t great, averaging a sub-par 4.9 ypr, but he was better than the two backup running backs that combined for 405 yards at only 4.35 ypr. I calculate Williams’ loss as worth just 0.3 points, so it’s not a major factor in my projection for this game. The math projects just 64.1 plays for 291 yards at 4.54 yppl for the Irish offense in this game. Oklahoma State allowed just 16.8 points per game against FBS teams that rate the same offensively as Notre Dame’s offense without Williams. This game is in a dome, which adds to each team’s offensive projection and Notre Dame is expected to score just 18.7 points in this game based on the math.

Overall, the math favors Oklahoma State by 7.4 points and the prediction margin would still be 5.3 points even if Notre Dame continues to be better than projected in their redzone defense. Oklahoma State also applies to a 43-9-1 ATS bowl bounce-back situation based on their loss to Baylor in the Big-12 Championship game and the underrated Cowboys had covered the spread in 10 consecutive games before that upset loss. The Irish are on a 7 game spread win streak, but teams that covered the spread in their previous 3 or more games before their bowl game are just 76-129-2 ATS in their bowl game and the Irish apply to a 3-30 ATS subset of that angle.

Oklahoma State is clearly the better team and the situation is favorable. I’ll take the Cowboys in a 2-Star Best Bet at -1 or better and for 1-Star to -2 points.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Oklahoma St.
  • Notre Dame


  • Run Plays 42.8 28.6
  • Run Yards 206.1 116.6
  • YPRP 4.8 4.1


  • Pass Comp 18.3 16.8
  • Pass Att 29.8 28.6
  • Comp % 61.3% 58.6%
  • Pass Yards 216.8 177.9
  • Sacks 1.3 3.9
  • Sack Yards 7.7 25.5
  • Sack % 4.3% 12.1%
  • Pass Plays 31.1 32.5
  • Net Pass Yards 209.2 152.4
  • YPPP 6.7 4.7


  • Total Plays 73.8 61.1
  • Total Yards 415.3 269.0
  • YPPL 5.6 4.4


  • Int 1.0 0.7
  • Int % 3.4% 2.3%
  • Fumbles 0.3 0.7
  • Turnovers 1.3 1.3
  • Points 30.6 16.8
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