One of the magical things about bowl games is that two teams that normally wouldn’t play each other can meet on the field. The 2019 Camping World Bowl delivers just that as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Iowa State Cyclones meet for the first time.
How Notre Dame got here
After a run in the CFP in 2018, the Irish had high expectations for 2019. Quarterback, Ian Book, had full control of the offense as his rival, Brandon Wimbush, transferred out of the program. Going into the season, the circled games were road games at Georgia and Michigan. Those two road tilts ended up being the only blemishes in 2019 as the Irish finished 10-2 and 15th in the final CFP rankings. Prior to the game against Georgia, the Irish climbed up to 7th in the AP poll before a 23-17 loss dropped them to 10th. They climbed back up to 8th going into the Michigan game. The Wolverines made short work of the Irish 45-14 and Notre Dame dropped to 16th in the AP poll and they were unable to make up any ground. This season, unlike previous seasons of the CFP era, had multiple undefeated teams and helped keep Notre Dame down in the rankings.
Book, playing his first full season as the starter, was able to throw the ball in the end zone far more than in previous years, but regressed on his accuracy. In 10 games in 2018, Book had an outstanding 68.2% completion rate, but in 2019, it dropped to 59.3%. His 33 touchdowns helped increase Notre Dame’s scoring output from 31.4 to 37.1 points per game, good for 13th in the FBS. He started running the ball with more efficiency, which the Irish needed with Dexter Williams graduating and being replaced by Tony Jones Jr.
How Iowa State got here
The Iowa State Cyclones should have had one heck of a year. They hosted ESPN GameDay for the first time ever against their in-state rival, Iowa. The first four of their five losses were by a total of eleven points, including three games by two points or less. Those three losses were to Iowa, Baylor, and Oklahoma, so they have proven to be able to hang with some of the top teams in the nation. Despite the losses, the Cyclones did crack the AP and CFP top 25 rankings at certain points during the year.
The Cyclones are led by quarterback, Brock Purdy, who threw for over 3700 yards in the air completed two thirds of his passes. Purdy has been able to share the ball as four of his receivers have over 600 yards this season. This is a massive improvement from 2018 as Purdy’s main target, Hakeem Butler, left for the NFL, and he was the only receiver with over 400 yards.
Irish fans might have been disappointed to not end up in the Camping World Bowl after finishing 15th in the CFP, but Notre Dame took advantage of their ACC bowl arrangement. The Camping World had the third selection in the ACC and Notre Dame was picked after Clemson went to the CFP and Virginia took the ACC’s spot in the Orange Bowl with the bowl selecting a higher ranked Florida as their opponent. That left Notre Dame as the next best team.
Cyclone fans have to be pleased with getting another crack at a ranked opponent. With Oklahoma in the CFP and Baylor filling the contract spot in the Sugar Bowl, along with a massive amount of bowl game jockeying in light of the ACC struggling to fill their bowl allotment, the Camping World Bowl makes for an excellent destination.
The Ian Book versus Brock Purdy matchup should be fun to watch. Book has an eye for the end zone and Purdy can rack up the yards. The 2019 edition of the Camping World Bowl will be played on Saturday, December 28th, at noon on ESPN.
I've been writing off and on since 2003, where I first wrote for Southern College Sports. After a hiatus, I returned in 2012 with The Sports Chronicles, a predecessor of NGSC Sports. After a brief stint with WBLZ in 2017, I came back to NGSC Sports and currently guest write on the site. Also, from 2015 to 2017, I helped run Off the Cuff, a sports program and blog with STLR Media.
I have done radio and podcasts dating back to 2006 with The Student of the Game, an NFL podcast. In 2012, I cohosted TSC Saturday Night on the Sports Chronicles and The OT With Andrew G on WTMY in Sarasota, FL. I later moved the OT to NGSC Sports until 2014 where I started The College Cram, also on NGSC Sports. After a brief hiatus, I returned to radio in 2015 with both Off the Cuff on STLR and The Mad Scientist Sports Lab on The Inscriber.