You guys are never going to believe this, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team actually still has one game left to go this season.
There’ve been just a few small developments in the Notre Dame football program since Thanksgiving weekend, when you might recall the Irish shellacked the Stanford Cardinal on the road to finish the year 11-1.
Since then, the only tiny little newsworthy things that have happened include head coach Brian Kelly leaving for LSU, Marcus Freeman being promoted to head coach and keeping much of the staff intact, the Irish earning a Fiesta Bowl bid after juuuuust falling short of the CFP, lots of recruiting action with Early Signing Day happening just a couple weeks ago, and some uninteresting personnel developments (Kyle and Bellyman opting out, Blake Fisher to start the game, etc.).
It’s truly been a whirlwind of a month, and so it’s crazy that all of a sudden it’s finally about time to watch the Irish take on the 9th-ranked, 11-2, Big 12 runners-up Oklahoma State Cowboys. If you’re like me, you only really saw the Cowboys play in the last couple weeks of the season against Oklahoma and Baylor, and so I figured it would make sense for us to learn a bit more about them heading into this big match-up.
Thus, I spoke to Micah Allen, Managing Editor over at Cowboys Ride For Free, the SB Nation one-stop-shop for everything Oklahoma State. Micah answered a vast array of questions from me and from you, our OFD Twitter followers, and so without further ado, let’s dive into her fantastic answers and really prep ourselves for a potential Irish NY6 bowl victory!!!
Questions About the Big 12 Championship
1. It was a disappointing, heartbreaking finish to the Big 12 championship game in early December. What went wrong in that game, and did you ever consider the game could end up going that way after the big win in Bedlam the week prior?
Micah Allen: I think Baylor’s defense was just ready and played a fantastic game. It didn’t help that Oklahoma State was missing Jaylen Warren which I think really hurt their run game.
I honestly was not super surprised at the outcome. It’s really hard to beat a team twice. Baylor had learned from the previous matchup. Now that being said, I was a bit surprised the game did not remain closer throughout. I feel like I was expecting that big win hangover that teams get as well.
2. FAN QUESTION:
Do you think after that championship game that Mike Gundy is reading up on his Greek mythology. Specifically Procrustes, who would cut or, more appropriately, stretch victims to achieve a certain length. I ask bc, as the Cowboys learned the hard way, football is a game of inches— Hayden Adams (@HaydenAdamsZ) December 8, 2021
Micah Allen: Hahahahahaha yes, I bet Gundy is wishing he could have stretched Dezmon Jackson just a litttttllleee bit.
Questions About the Fiesta Bowl Matchup
3. Do you think Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles taking the Ohio State job and not coaching in this game will have a major impact on the performance of the Cowboys defense against the Irish? Also, who are the key names for Irish fans to watch out for on the OSU D, and are there any weaknesses or weaker position groups that the ND offense could hope to exploit a bit in this matchup?
Micah Allen: Will it have an impact? I think so. Now how much of an impact it’ll have I’m not totally sure. I don’t think the interim DC Joe Bob Clements will differ too much from what Knowles was doing. But there has to be a little disappointment that they’re not playing for the coach they’ve been suiting up for all season.
Key names would be Malcolm Rodriguez, Collin Oliver, and Kolby Harvell-Peel. Those guys have had a heck of a season and I think we’ll hear their names called for tackles, takeaways, so on and so forth.
I think the backfield could show a bit of weakness — they’re not the best at defending against the pass. Baylor was pretty successful that way.
4. On the other side of the ball, it appears the Cowboys offense has been much more middle-of-the-road compared to the defense’s accomplishments. What does the offense do well, and what are they very much not good at? Which playmakers will Marcus Freeman’s defense need to contain in order to find success?
Micah Allen: Run game, run game, oh and did I mention the run game? That seems to be the way this team scores.
As to what they’re very much not good at, it’s QB Spencer Sanders. He is probably the least consistent quarterback I have ever seen. It’s hurt the Cowboys quite a bit.
The playmakers would be Jaylen Warren and Tay Martin. With the loss of Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace, these two have stepped up to help bridge that gap just a little bit.
5. What’s the Oklahoma State injury situation heading into the Fiesta Bowl — will Jaylen Warren play? What other key guys may miss, or return for, the game?
Micah Allen: Jaylen Warren says he’s 100%, which means he’ll probably play. Other than that I haven’t heard any injury news.
Questions ‘Bout Cowboys
6. FAN QUESTION:
Are you more of a Woody type of Cowboy or a Billy the Kid type of cowboy.— Philip G OFD (@Philip__G) December 8, 2021
Micah Allen: I’m definitely a Woody type Cowboy. I love Toy Story sooooo much. And also Billy the Kid was an outlaw and ya girl is a rule follower.
7. FAN QUESTION:
Who can pound more adult beverages, Pistol Pete or the Leprechaun? Who wins in a bar fight? pic.twitter.com/sj4qvQNWrz— poz (@push_to_poz) December 20, 2021
Micah Allen: I have to give both of these to Pistol Pete. My dude can definitely pound a few cold ones. Also Pete has seen some stuff and it always down for a good bar fight.
Who has the better facial hair?— poz (@push_to_poz) December 20, 2021
Micah Allen: Ehhhh I’ll give the leprechaun this one I guess, Only because Pete has more of a 5 o’clock shadow look going on.
8. FAN QUESTION:
Without looking it up, do you know what the T in T. Boone Pickens stands for?— Pat C (@iamthetweeter) December 8, 2021
Micah Allen: Travis?*
*Pat Rick Note: this was a good guess. I had no idea, looked it up, and apparently it’s just just “Thomas.” How boring! I think Travis is more fitting.
Questions About Conference Realignment
9. FAN QUESTION:
Whose disappointing “new normal” in the SEC will be more fun to watch - OU never being able to win the conference, or UT struggling to ever have a winning conference record?— Harry Joe (@Joseph_Socks) December 20, 2021
Micah Allen: OU not being able to win the conference. Just watching your rival struggle to be the top like they were in your conference is the chef’s kiss.
10. FAN QUESTION:
Which new Big XII member’s campus are they most excited to visit for a road game?— Harry Joe (@Joseph_Socks) December 20, 2021
Micah Allen: BYU. The scenery looks amazing!
11. FAN QUESTION:
When you write an article about an Oklahoma State player that isn’t positive, how often do you think about Gundy’s “Come after me! I’m a man! I’m 40! I’m not a kid!” rant?— Pat C (@iamthetweeter) December 8, 2021
I’m setting the O/U at 3.5 thoughts per article
Micah Allen: I have never thought about it actually. I’m not entirely sure Gundy is reading our stuff hahahahahaha.
12. FESTIVE QUESTION: Mike Gundy is throwing a massive Oklahoma State football New Year’s Eve party — describe it to me. Where is it held, what is the requested attire, what big-name players/coaches from past/current teams attend, what are the decorations/party favors like, what food and beverages are served, what music gets played, is there any special entertainment or activities taking place, does Gundy deliver a toast at midnight, etc.?
Micah Allen: So 100% it’s at his ranch in Stillwater. Requested attire is.... jeans and boots I suppose. Barry Sanders is in attendance along with Thurman Thomas and Brandon Weeden.
Party decorations are your typical, like 2022 banners and things with a little black and orange mixed in, like with the balloons and some streamers and stuff. Food and drinks are BBQ and beer.
Music is probably a playlist the current players made along with some country. There’s probably a live band as well. Gundy would def deliver a toast.
13. Alright, let’s get down to it: who wins, what’s the final score, and why?
Micah Allen: I’m going 24-14 Cowboys. I just feel like OSU has been the better team this year. And then with Notre Dame having to replace their coach, I don’t have a ton of confidence in this Irish team.
I wanna give a big ole massive shout-out to Micah for answering all my questions, as they truly cast a wide net in terms of the spectra of relevance and seriousness. I encourage you all to head on over to Cowboys Ride For Free for any and all of your Oklahoma State insights and analysis needs ahead of Saturday.
Furthermore, be sure to give both their site and Micah some follows on Twitter, as both are great sources for hard-hitting news updates on the Cowboys squad before, during, and after this Fiesta Bowl.
That’s it for this week and this year in terms of football opponent Q&As, and per usual, GO IRISH!!!!!