Glendale, Ariz .: No. 5 Notre Dame missed the college football playoffs by one place. The No. 9 Oklahoma State bid came in inches shorter.
Disappointment offers a nice reassurance: another marquee matchup in the Fiesta Bowl.
Shortly after the CFP, the Irish and the Cowboys will meet in a New Year’s Day bowl that produces some high-level games over the years.
The Irish (11-1) lost to Cincinnati on October 2 to win their last seven games, despite coach Brian Kelly’s decision to leave LSU to advance to the CFP playoffs.
Notre Dame promoted defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman as head coach on Friday and hoped for some chaos during the conference championship games on Saturday.
The Irish did not get it.
No. 4 Cincinnati and No. 2 Michigan wins left them looking out, fifth in Sunday’s final CFP rankings.
The Cowboys (11-2) were very close to reaching the CFP for the first time. They rallied 21-3 halftime deficit against No. 6 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game and drove late to reach the Bears’ 2-yard line.
Oklahoma State failed in three attempts and, with the clock ticking, Desmond Jackson ran to the edge zone around the edge. Balers Jeroen McVea tracked him down and missed Jackson’s reach inch to the pylon.
The 21-16 defeat kept the Cowboys out of the Big 12 Championship and playoffs. They are ninth in the final CFP rankings.
The first meeting between Notre Dame and Oklahoma State decides what could be the second most memorable game in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Cowboys have the most boring defense in the country, ranking third in total defense, fifth against runs and eighth in scoring defense.
The Irish have a well-balanced offense that has won four consecutive one-sided wins to close out the regular season, winning 45-14 against Stanford in the final. Jack Coe threw 2,641 yards and 20 touchdowns, with Kieran Williams adding 1,002 yards and 19 TD to the ground.
Oklahoma State’s last win in the New Year Six Bowl was a 41-38 win over Stanford in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl. The Irish, who have not won a major Bowl since 1993, played in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, losing 44-28 to Ohio State.
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