Notre Dame Football: Six Problematic Iowa State Cyclones

The 2019 Notre Dame football season comes to a close in the Camping World Bowl.

The Camping World Bowl may be a disappointment to most Notre Dame fans, but it’s a game that still has a lot of intrigue.

The bowl originally known as the Blockbuster Bowl is a game that that Notre Dame is no stranger to, having appeared in 2011. The result was a loss to Florida State, 18-14. At the time, it was known as the Champs Sports Bowl, its final game before being changed again to the Russell Athletic Bowl.

This is Notre Dame’s first postseason game against a Big 12 team. Notre Dame is 2-2 against active Big 12 members in bowl games (2-1 vs Texas, 0-1 vs West Virginia), but neither were in the Big 12 yet.

Iowa State comes in at 7-5, which may look underwhelming, but those five losses were by a combined 21 points. Calling a Cyclone team that had Big 12 Championship aspirations a disappointment is an understatement, but to say they’re a bad team is just not accurate.

Like most Big 12 teams, Iowa State is led by its offense, which ranks 19th in total yards, especially through the air where Iowa State ranks 8th.

Bottom line: Iowa State’s offense is going to be dangerous against Notre Dame.

Brock Purdy, QB

As previously mentioned, the passing game is the backbone of the offense and it’s lead by Brock Purdy. The second team All-Big 12 quarterback entered last season as the third string quarterback, but took over due to injuries and hasn’t looked back.

Purdy started all 12 games this season for the Cyclones, completing 66.3 percent of his passes for 3760 yards and 27 touchdowns. He ranks second on the team in rushing yards with 265 but also has 8 touchdowns on the ground. The Camping World Bowl will be played one day after Purdy’s 20th birthday, so what better way to celebrate a birthday than with a bowl victory over Notre Dame?

Breece Hall, RB

Iowa State isn’t much of a rushing team, but Hall is the go-to back when they do. Hall’s only a freshman, but he’s shown some great potential. He was a 4-Star prospect coming out of high school with offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee and others.

Hall averages 5 yards per carry and has 842 yards on the season. He had 9 touchdowns to go along with that. After not seeing the field a ton for the first four games, Hall broke out in October with back-to-back games of 132 yards and 183 yards, respectively, against West Virginia and Texas Tech. In his final seven games of the year, Hall rushed for 100+ yards four times and was just three yards short of a fifth.

DeShaunte Jones, WR

The top receiving target this season, Jones has stepped up big time in replacing Hakeem Butler. Jones is a 5’10″, 180 pound senior and this was his most productive season. In fact, he was also a second team All-Big 12 player.

Jones appeared in 11 games this season and had four games of over 100 yards, including a 7 catch, 144 yard game against Texas. On the year, he’s caught 72 passes for 832 yards. He only had two touchdown receptions, but he’s still a big play threat downfield and could make life tough for the Notre Dame secondary.

Charlie Kolar, TE

Kolar is a very impressive tight end. At 6’6″, 252 pounds, his size often works to his advantage whether it be blocking or receiving. Another member of the All-Big 12 team, Kolar made the first team for his great season. He also made the FWAA All American second team as well as an AP All American as a third teamer. He’s Iowa State’s first AP All American since 1996.

Kolar caught 48 passes for 675 yards and actually lead the team in receiving touchdowns with 7. He’s racked up the accolades this year and is a matchup problem for almost anyone he goes up against. This could very well be his final game in college, as Kolar is already looking into the NFL.

O’Rien Vance, LB

Just a sophomore, Vance has shown the ability to disrupt in any situation. He’s solid against the run and even better on the pass rush. Vance’s ability to get to Ian Book is going to dictate a lot of how the Iowa State defense does in slowing down the Notre Dame offense.

Vance has 61 tackles, including 9 for loss. He also leads the team in sacks with 6.5. If that’s not enough, he also has a forced fumble against TCU and recovery against Oklahoma. Vance is sure to make his impact felt on Saturday.

Greg Eisworth, Safety

Another member of the All-Big 12 roster, Eisworth is a dynamic defender and probably the best Cyclone on defense. The 6’0″, 205 pound transfer from Ole Miss is the heart of the defense, with coach Matt Campbell crediting Eisworth for raising the level of play of those around him. He’s one of Iowa State’s captains, so the praise doesn’t get much higher.

Eisworth had 60 tackles, 3.5 of which were for loss. Where he really makes his name is in the pass game, where he lead the team with 10 passes defended, one of the most impressive totals in the country. A potential battle against Chase Claypool looms large and is yet another key to the success of the Iowa State defense.