The Notre Dame Fighting Irish capped off a successful 2019 season with an easy 33-9 victory over the Iowa State Cyclones in the Camping World Bowl.
Head coach Brian Kelly's team came into the year with College Football Playoff aspirations, climbing as high as No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25. Despite not reaching those lofty heights, a third straight 10-win season has established the Irish as one of the most consistent programs in the country.
Quarterback Ian Book put a bow on his college career with the second-most single-season touchdown passes in Notre Dame history (34) after throwing one on Saturday.
While Book had a solid passing day, it was Notre Dame's rushing attack that did a lot of damage against Iowa State's defense. That unit racked up 208 yards on 37 carries in the win.
Iowa State's offense was one-dimensional because it couldn't get anything going on the ground. The Fighting Irish defense gave up 45 rushing yards, forcing Brock Purdy to beat them through the air. He was effective in his role but couldn't make enough plays to keep his team in the game.
Notable Game Stats
- Ian Book, QB (Notre Dame): 20-of-28, 247 yards, 1 TD
- Tony Jones Jr., RB (Notre Dame): 11 carries, 135 yards, 1 TD
- Chase Claypool, WR (Notre Dame): 7 receptions, 146 yards, 1 TD
- Brock Purdy, QB (Iowa State): 17-of-30, 222 yards
- Breece Hall, RB (Iowa State): 17 carries, 55 yards
- La'Michael Pettway, WR (Iowa State): 4 receptions, 54 yards
Turnovers, Big Plays Carry Irish to Victory
The Cyclones had some success moving the ball against Notre Dame's defense, particularly through the air with 222 passing yards, but they were undone by two first-quarter turnovers.
The first turnover came on Tarique Milton's fumble at his own 42-yard line after the Irish were forced to punt on their opening drive.
After holding Notre Dame to a field goal, Iowa State turned the ball over again on its ensuing drive when Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah got to Purdy for a strip-sack and recovered the fumble.
The Fighting Irish were able to capitalize in grand fashion this time on Chase Claypool's acrobatic 24-yard touchdown catch on 3rd-and-12 and was the start of a dominant day for the senior receiver.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Notre Dame leads Iowa State 20-6 at halftime of the Camping World Bowl. Under Brian Kelly, the Fighting Irish are 33-0 when leading by 14+ points at halftime. Chase Claypool: 4 receptions, 112 rec yards, 1 rec TD. It's his third game with 100+ rec yds this season. https://t.co/yUUsA7Cl0y
Holding a 13-3 lead late in the first half, Notre Dame's second touchdown of the day was set up by C'Bo Flemister's 44-yard run that got the ball down to the Cyclones' 1-yard line. Jafar Armstrong punched it into the end zone two plays later.
Not to be outdone by his fellow running backs, Tony Jones Jr. set a new school and Camping Bowl record with his 84-yard score on the Irish's first offensive play of the second half to extend their lead to 27-6.
This was a showcase game for the Irish, who could lose a lot of talent from this team that will need to be replaced in 2020.
Claypool and Book are the two biggest names from the offense who will be moving on. Defensive linemen Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara, who combined for 10.5 sacks coming into the bowl game, are also seniors.
Kelly has done a consistently good job of recruiting talent to South Bend that allows the Irish to stay in the playoff picture each year. 247Sports' composite rankings has Notre Dame's incoming class as the 11th-best in the nation.
Those new names will have a tall task ahead of them to ensure the program continues to play at a high level.
Iowa State Outclassed in Spotlight Game
Even though the result wasn't what Iowa State hoped for, this was a good litmus test for a program still establishing itself on the national stage.
The Cyclones have taken steps forward under head coach Matt Campbell. They did lose games to Oklahoma, Iowa, Baylor and Oklahoma State, but those four matchups were decided by a combined 11 points.
In fact, during Campbell's tenure, this is Iowa State's first defeat by at least two touchdowns in three years:
Iowa State's biggest win of the season came on Nov. 16 against a Texas team that was ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time. These are positive steps forward, but Saturday was a reminder of how much work the program still has to do.
Looking ahead to 2020, one of the biggest reasons to be optimistic is Purdy. The 20-year-old struggled against Notre Dame's defense and his day ended early because of an ankle injury, but there were a lot of positives to his season overall.
Purdy is only a sophomore and took a significant step forward from his debut season when he finished with 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns. He finished this year with nearly 4,000 yards passing and 27 touchdowns.
The defense took a step back this year, allowing 25.3 points per game coming into the bowl game.
If Campbell's defense can play closer to the 2018 level when it ranked 38th in the nation with 22.9 points allowed per game, the Cyclones could be a sleeper in the Big 12 next season.