With just under a week to go until the Notre Dame football team plays its final game of the 2023 season, it's pretty darn hard to figure out just how the Sun Bowl against Oregon State is going to go. That's not because the two teams are so evenly matched.
At least, it's not how they're so evenly matched talent wise. The two teams are pretty evenly matched when it comes to the number of players that are sitting out the game.
Bowl season has taken on a new feel in the last few years because of the number of players that tend to sit out the bowl game for one reason or another. Having said that, there isn't a bowl game out there that has more players sitting out than Notre Dame football vs Oregon State.
Some of the players are sitting out because they're headed to the NFL and don't want to hurt their chances of getting drafted by getting injured. Others are sitting out because they're leaving their school in the transfer portal.
It's not even only players that are going to be "sitting out" the Sun Bowl. Oregon State lost its head coach to Michigan State earlier this year so he's definitely out. However the Beavers already named his replacement in Trent Bray. However, he won't be coaching the Sun Bowl either. OSU will instead go with wide receivers coach Kefense Hynson as the interim head man.
Notre Dame football will also have a coach sitting out the bowl. Newly hired offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock is leaving LSU for the Fighting Irish, but it will be quarterbacks' coach Gino Guidugli calling plays on December 29.
Outside of the coaches, you can check out the list of players sitting out the game.
Notre Dame football players opting out of the Sun Bowl
- LB Marist Liufau
- RT Blake Fisher
- QB Sam Hartman
- LT Joe Alt
- CB Cam Hart
- DB Thomas Harper
Harper is the last guy to opt out for the Fighting Irish and it appears that everyone else is playing. That's still seven Notre Dame players not playing in their bowl game, quite a few of them starters this past season.
Oregon State football players sitting out the Sun Bowl
- QB D.J. Uiagalelei
- QB Aidan Chiles
- TE Jack Velling
- K Atticus Sappington
- LB Easton Mascarenas-Arnold
- RB Damien Martinez
The fact that the Beavers are going to be without their top two quarterbacks, their top tackler in Mascarenas-Arnold and their head coaches has made them a heavy underdog to Notre Dame football, but there may not be a bigger wildcard game this bowl season.