Sun Bowl: Oregon State vs. Notre Dame Expert Pick and Prediction – December 29, 2023
SUN BOWL: OREGON STATE VS. NOTRE DAME EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – December 29, 2023 — This would have been a fun matchup if both teams came in at full strength. Unfortunately, Oregon State is a shadow of itself and Notre Dame’s not a heck of a lot better.
Last year, the Beavers found themselves in the opposite role, as they met a Florida team decimated by opt-outs and uninterested in playing. The result proved a predictable one, giving the Beavers plenty of deserved hype going into 2023. Oregon State justified much of it, but the Beavers never really figured out how to win away from Corvallis.
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Out of five road games, the only wins came at San Jose State and California, neither of whom proved particularly strong. And then Michigan State came calling and poached coach Jonathan Smith, who didn’t want to stick around for the Beavers’ uncertain future without the Pac-12. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei followed and running back Damian Martinez got suspended, leaving little on the bone for the orange and black.
Notre Dame’s in better shape because it at least has its defense in one piece. But the Irish won’t have quarterback Sam Hartman or running back Audric Estime on the field, making this likely a defensive showcase. The Irish defense returns almost intact and was a strength all season, and it will likely dictate how this game goes.
(8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS)
(9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS)
When: Friday, December 29th at 2 p.m. EST
Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Public Bets: 52% on Oregon State
Public Money: 71% on Notre Dame
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of December 26th, 2023.
Oregon State vs. Notre Dame In-Season Trends
It wasn’t a good finish for Oregon State at all. The Beavers covered just once in their final five games, in part because they had to go to both Arizona and Oregon. They also failed to cover in road games at Colorado and Washington State, losing to the Cougars outright.
Oregon State was dynamite at Reser Stadium, but the Beavers didn’t do much of anything on the road. They also played to the under in four of five, only going over against hapless Stanford because they scored 62 points on the Cardinal.
Notre Dame closed out well, covering in four of five. But that could also have been because the Irish didn’t really play that tough a schedule after losing at Louisville. Notre Dame’s toughest opponent down the stretch was Clemson, and that was the only defeat. The Irish also played to the over in all five games, mainly because they scored 45 points or more in all four wins.
West Texas can get cold, but it should be just fine here. Temperatures are set to hit 57 degrees, there’s no rain in the forecast and the winds should be mild at worst.
Um…good luck. Let’s just say that the guy who sells programs at the Sun Bowl isn’t going to be hurting for business with all of the opt-outs. Oregon State will go with Ben Gulbranson at quarterback, and he’s thrown all of one pass in 2023. The good news is that it was complete, and Gulbranson does have bowl experience after beating Florida last year.
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Steve Angeli might be one and done as the Notre Dame starter. He has thrown 25 passes on the season, but with Riley Leonard on his way to South Bend, Angeli’s probably not going to have this job next year. But he’s the more experienced of the two signal callers.
It’s hard to do anything but take the under here. However, there might be a better play on the board: Oregon State on the under. The Beavers lost players on both sides of the ball, while Notre Dame only lost players on offense. The Irish are rock solid as ever on defense, and Gulbranson wasn’t good before he got demoted to third string.
The spread is not as tempting, but if Notre Dame’s defense rules the day, the Irish might back their way into a cover just from that side of the ball. The Beavers just don’t have much left after the exodus.
Notre Dame -6.5
Oregon State TTU 17.5