Notre Dame’s Camping World Bowl matchup against Iowa State presents the worst-case scenario for the Irish, as they enter into a no-win situation.
After Notre Dame was embarrassed during the regular season by rival Michigan, their hopes at participating in a significant bowl game were dashed. If losing out on an opportunity to participate in a college playoff game or even a New Year’s Six bowl game wasn’t bad enough, the Irish draw a matchup with Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl that presents a worst-case scenario for the Irish.
The Irish now face an Iowa State opponent that — despite having five losses — presents a major challenge for Notre Dame. Of the Cyclones five losses this season, only one was by more than seven points — Iowa State’s final game of the season against Kansas State — where they lost 27-17.
Iowa State lost to 4th ranked Oklahoma 42-41, to 7th ranked Baylor 23-21, to 16th ranked Iowa 18-17 and to 25th ranked Oklahoma State 34-27. While they have five losses on the year, all five could have easily gone in favor of the Cyclones against their top 25 ranked opponents. In addition, they managed a 23-21 win against Texas, who was ranked for most of the season.
Due to the fact that Iowa State is a difficult five loss team, Notre Dame is in an unenviable position. Iowa State is much better than their record would suggest, hanging tough with some of the best teams in the nation on a regular basis. But the average fan will not look beyond the five loss season that they have endured.
For the 10-2 Irish, the Camping World Bowl matchup presents a trap game that presents a no-win situation. If Notre Dame defeats Iowa State, the pundits will exclaim that they should have defeated a five loss team. If they lose to the Cyclones, those same pundits will use the results to point out how the Irish were overrated and how this is a further example that they did not belong in a big game with the elite programs in college football.
In addition, the game is likely to serve as a bit of a let down for an Irish team that likely anticipated playing in a game against one of the other elite programs. Given the level of talent that Iowa State possesses, this could serve as a trap game for the Irish. If they come in flat or unprepared, the Cyclones have the talent to embarrass Notre Dame.
As a result, Notre Dame must come in ready to play and go full-throttle against their opponents, regardless of the situation. Notre Dame certainly has elite-level talent on their roster and should have no issue disposing of Iowa State if they play up to their full abilities. Unfortunately, even if they are able to accomplish this feat, they may not get the credit they deserve for defeating a worthy opponent.