Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Irish Blow Through Cyclones In Bowl Victory

December 28, 2019

The winning streak is carrying over into the new year.

Now, bring on the hype.

No. 15 Notre Dame, which uncorked a five-game winning streak to close out the 2019 regular season, pushed that winning binge to six on Saturday with a 33-9 triumph against Iowa State in Orlando’s Camping World Bowl.

It is the longest season-finishing winning streak of the Brian Kelly era for the Irish (11-2) and the longest for the program since ND won its final seven games of the 1992 season.

Kelly pointed to his senior class in his postgame comments to ABC.

“Well, 33 wins over the last three years, not many programs, there’s probably just a few that have done that,” Kelly said. “The consistency of performance, setting standard that’s that high in college football is very difficult. They can talk about being an elite football team.

“Yeah, we have not won a national championship. That’s the next step for this football team. But they have put us in that position that we can take that next step.”

Shaking off a tentative start with the ball by turning its defense into offense, Notre Dame took a quick 10-0 lead with opportunistic play off a pair of Cyclone fumbles.

Wide receiver Chase Claypool, the selfless senior recently named 2019 team MVP, raced downfield in punt coverage and recovered a fumble forced by Alohi Gilman that set up Jonathan Doerer’s first of three field goals. Claypool finished with seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown in his final game for the Irish; Ian Book completed 20 of 28 passes for 247 yards and the scoring toss to Claypool.

Defensively, the Irish suffocated Iowa State (7-6), allowing just 272 total yards and a mere 14 first downs.

After Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah forced and recovered a Brock Purdy fumble, Claypool made a dazzling, leaping catch in the end on third-and-long for the game’s first score and an Irish 10-0 lead.

Irish Sports Daily

Doerer’s knuckling, 51-yard field goal through rainy and windy conditions boosted Notre Dame back on top by double digits, 13-3, and after Claypool hauled in a brilliant pass from Book for 43 yards that appeared to be a touchdown, Jafar Armstrong turned the game into a dominant Irish performance with a 1-yard scoring plunge.

Notre Dame answered the second of Connor Assalley’s three field goals with a one-play, romp-inducing run from Tony Jones Jr.

Pinned inside its own 20, Notre Dame handed off left to Jones, who got key blocks from both Chris Finke and Tommy Tremble, and outraced the entire Cyclones’ defense a career-best 84 yards to paydirt and a 27-6 lead.

Iowa State only once conjured a first-and-goal set against the Irish defense, and it trailed by at least 10 points for the game’s final 37 minutes, 21 seconds.

“For us to keep them from scoring a touchdown, and that’s a pretty good offense, but that’s been our defense all year,” Kelly said of the Cyclones, who had not been held without a touchdown or to single digits since the opening game of the 2018 season. “We had a great season. We had one bad day, but our kids bounced back from that. Won six consecutive.

“It’s a really good football team, a group that loves playing together, but they don’t listen to what other people say about them and they just keep playing hard.”

Doerer capped the scoring with field goals that covered 19 and 39 yards for the final margin and closed his first season as the Irish’s primary place-kicker with a scintillating 17-for-20 campaign on field goals.

Now, Notre Dame will await formal NFL Draft decisions from a handful of key contributors --- Cole Kmet, Alohi Gilman among them --- but returns a large nucleus of contributors from this team and also welcomes another consensus top-15 recruiting class.

The Irish open the 2020 season eight months from Sunday against Navy in Dublin, Ireland.

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