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Oregon State is 8-4 and they came in at #19 in the final CFP ranking. Their head coach during the season, Jonathan Smith left after their last game for the job at Michigan State. Defensive coordinator Trent Bray has been named as the new head coach but he will not lead the Beavers for the bowl game. Bray has assigned receivers coach Kefense Hyson (pronounced: Kuh-Fence-Uh Hinson) as interim head coach while he builds his new staff.

Notre Dame has transfers and opt outs, and besides losing their head coach, Oregon St. also has has transfers and opt outs, and plenty of ’em. Included in their losses are their 1st and second-string quarterbacks, two of their top receivers, their top two tacklers, an NFL caliber offensive lineman and their kicker.  Oh, and their top running back and a couple of offensive linemen are injured.

With the transfer of their quarterbacks, the Beavers will turn to their third string quarterback, Ben Gulbranson.  A 6-3, 215 pound 4th year sophomore, Gulberson has just one pass attempt this season, but in 2022, he started 8 games and led the Beavers to a 10 win season and was named MVP of the Las Vegas Bowl.  During this time as a starter he completed 62.1% of his passes good for 1,455 yards, 9 touchdowns and five interceptions. Not particularly a runner, he did mange 5 short yardage TD runs during 2022, but netted just 52 rushing yards.

With top running back Daminen Martinez suspended, the Beavers will rely on a pretty solid 6th year player in Deshaun Fenwick.  Fenwick is a bruising 6-2, 222 and has a 5.6 yard per carry this season on 90 carries with 5 TDs. In his career he has run for over 2000 yards.

5-8, 157 wide receiver Silas Borden has 51 catches for 718 yards and 5 TDs and will play, but the Beavers next two most productive pass catchers will not. Anthony Gould (44-718 and 2 TDs) has declared for the NFL draft and top red zone target, tight end Jack Veiling, who had 8 TD catches is in the transfer portal.

Top offensive lineman, RT Taliese Fuaga has declared for the NFL draft. The Beavers may be down two other offensive linemen due to injury.

Theyl also be without place kicker Atticus Sappington who had converted 13-14 FG on the year.

On the year, Oregon State is ranked 27th in scoring offense at 33.8 points per game.  They have achieved a good pass/rush balance and are 32nd in total offense nationally at 426.9 yards per game.

State’s defense has been stingy giving up just 21.5 ppg.  They are 15th best in the country against the pass yielding just 104.1 ypg. They will be without the services of a pair of brothers who were their top two tacklers, linebacker Easton and safety Akili Arnold. Both are in the portal.

The Beavers won eight of their first nine and at mid-season had reached #11 in the CFP rankings. Since their hot start though, they have dropped three of five, and ended the season with two losses. They were 22-20 losers to CFP semi-finalist Washington on November 19 and closed their season with a 31-l7 loss at #8 Oregon.

With the moving on of their head coach (as well as a few assistants), their top quarterbacks and other key players on both sides of the ball, Oregon State looks to be a team that is in disarray. The roster churn of course, makes them hard to gauge. Likewise, ND has suffered significant losses as well but they look to be better suited to weather the transfer/opt out storm.

Both teams are likely to struggle offensively in this game with back up quarterbacks and patched up offensive lines, but the ND defense, which has been outstanding all season long will still put a formidable squad on the field.  That defense gives the Irish the edge in this one.

ND is a 6.5 point favorite and the over/under is 41.5.

The Fighting Irish Preview Pick:  ND 31 Oregon State 14

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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