SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Following its fifth-straight double-digit win season, the fifth-ranked University of Notre Dame football team (11-1) secured a berth in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl against ninth-ranked Oklahoma State (11-2, 8-1 Big-12).
The Fiesta Bowl will be held at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET and will be aired on ESPN. This is Notre Dame’s first trip to the Fiesta Bowl since 2016 and its sixth all-time appearance. This will mark the 21st-time the Irish have played a bowl game on Jan. 1 in program history.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools and just the second current Big-12 opponent the Irish have played in a bowl game in school history. The Irish are 1-0 against the Big-12 in bowl games after defeating Iowa State 33-9 in the 2019 Camping World Bowl.
For Notre Dame, it is the 40th postseason bowl appearance (19-20^ record) after the University declined to participate in bowl games from 1925-68.
- Under Marcus Freeman’s tutelage, the Irish defense has been one of the nation’s best at creating havoc plays this season, as Notre Dame has totaled 40.0 sacks this season, which ranks eighth in the NCAA.
- The Irish are sixth in the nation in sacks per game with 3.33.
- The 40 sacks are the most in a single season since 1996, when the Irish set the program record for most sacks in a single season with 41.
- 15 different players have recorded a sack this season after Isaiah Pryor and Alexander Ehrensberger got their first sacks of the season against Georgia Tech.
- Notre Dame has been stingy in allowing points this season. They rank ninth in scoring defense by limiting opponents to 18.2 points per game this season.
- The Irish defense has also been adept at taking the ball away with 23 takeaways, a number that ranks 14th in the NCAA.
- Of those 23 takeaways, the Irish have tallied 15 interceptions from nine different players after Ramon Henderson tallied his first career interception against Virginia.
- The 15 interceptions are tied for 10th in the NCAA. It is the most interceptions since 2014 when the Irish had 16 that season.
- The nine players with an interception is the most since 2014 when they also had nine different players with interceptions.
- The defense has also been able to find the endzone this season with four defensive scores. The four touchdowns are tied for sixth nationally.
- The Irish also rank in the top-20 in third down conversion percentage defense (17th – 32.9%) and first down defense (18th – 211).
- Kyle Hamilton and DJ Brown both lead the team with three interceptions each.
- Hamilton and Cam Hart both had two interceptions in a game this season, the first time since 2018 that the Irish have had two players with two interceptions in a game in the same season (Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman).
- The depth of the defense has been on full display as 21 different players have recorded a tackle-for-loss this season.
BE LIKE MIKE
- Tight end Michael Mayer is one of the best tight ends in the country, as he ranks first among Power-5 tight ends in receptions and receiving yards per game. He is first in receptions (64), receiving yards (768) and first in receiving yards per game (69.8).
- Mayer set the program record for most receptions in a single season by a tight end (64) after his nine receptions, 105 yards and a touchdown in the win over Stanford.
- He also tied the Notre Dame record for most receptions in a single game by a tight end. He tied his previous mark against Florida State and Cole Kmet’s that was set against Georgia in 2019.
- It was the sixth game this season he has brought in seven or more receptions and also the sixth game he has led the team in receptions.
- For the season, 37 of Mayer’s 64 receptions have resulted in a first down for the Irish.
- Mayer hauled in his fifth touchdown of the season on a career-long 52-yard pass in the home finale win over Georgia Tech.
- Mayer led the Irish with team-highs in receptions (7) and receiving yards (84) while adding one score in the road win over Virginia.
- Mayer joined Ken MacAfee and Tyler Eifert as the only Notre Dame tight ends with 50 or more catches in a single season.
- He notched five receptions for 54 yards in the home win over Southern Cal. He has totaled at least five receptions in seven of his 11 games this season.
- Mayer led the Irish against Cincinnati with eight receptions and 93 yards on the afternoon.
- Mayer had seven catches for 61 yards in the win over Wisconsin at Soldier Field.
- In the win over Toledo, Mayer finished the game with team-high marks in receptions (7), receiving yards (81) and receiving touchdowns (2). It was the first time in Mayer’s career that he has had a multi-touchdown game.
- Dating back to last season, Mayer collected seven or more receptions in three-straight games (Alabama, Florida State and Toledo). The last Irish receiver to have three-consecutive games with seven or more receptions was Michael Floyd in 2011 (Maryland – 8; Boston College – 10 and Stanford – 8).
- In just his second collegiate season, Mayer is already climbing the ranks in the Notre Dame Record Book.
IRISH CHOP DOWN CARDINAL
- The Irish closed the 2021 regular season with their seventh-win in a row with the 45-14 victory over Stanford.
- Notre Dame set a program record with 54 wins over the past five seasons. It surpassed the previous record of 53 that was set from 1988-92.
- The win gave the Irish their 11th of the season, the ninth time in program history they have won 11 or more games in a single season.
- The win gave the Irish their 42nd-consecutive win over an unranked opponent, the longest active streak in the FBS.
- The Irish finished the season undefeated in road games (4-0) for the second-straight year. It is the first time since 1992-93 that the Irish had two-consecutive seasons with undefeated road records.
- With the win, Notre Dame has won 16-straight games in the month of November.
- It was the 27th-consecutive win for the Irish when they have scored 40 points or more.
- The Irish claimed their 36th-straight win when allowing less than 20 points.
- Running back Kyren Williams surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second-straight season in the win over Stanford.
- He is just the fifth Irish running back to have back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in program history and the first since Darius Walker in 2005 and 2006.
- Williams rushed for two touchdowns against the Cardinal for the second-straight game and the fourth time in the last six games.
- It was the eighth-straight game Williams had a rushing touchdown.
- Wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. led the way with 125 receiving yards. It was the second time in the last four games that Austin Jr. surpassed the 100-yard mark in a game.
- Tight end Michael Mayer had his second career game with 100 yards or more after finishing with 105 and nine receptions.
- Quarterback Jack Coan tied a career high with 26 completions. He finished with 345 yards passing, his second game with 300 passing yards or more this season.
- Austin Jr. and Mayer become the first Irish receiving duo to have 100 receiving yards or more in the same game since 2017 against Stanford.
- The Irish defense allowed 55 rushing yards against the Cardinal. It was the fewest rushing yards allowed since 2020 when they limited Clemson to 33 rushing yards.
- Isaiah Foskey has been the most consistent member of the Irish defensive line this season as he leads the team in sacks (10.0) and tackles-for-loss (11.5).
- Foskey ranks tied for 16th nationally with 10.0 sacks this season.
- He has recorded at least one sack in eight of his 12 games this season and at least one tackle-for-loss in nine of the games.
- His 10.0 sacks are the most by an Irish player since Stephon Tuitt had 12.0 during the 2012 season.
- The mark ranks tied with Bert Berry and Mike Gann for fourth all-time at Notre Dame for most sacks in a single season.
- Foskey is second in the country with five forced fumbles on the season after he tied a career high with two forced fumbles against Georgia Tech.
- Foskey also ranks 18th in the FBS with two fumble recoveries this season.
- In the win over Southern Cal, Foskey set a career high with two forced fumbles and tied a career high with 2.0 sacks.
- Foskey forced his first-career fumble against Cincinnati after recording his first-career fumble recovery in the win over Wisconsin.
- Foskey began the season with a career-high eight tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss and 2.0 sacks in the road win over Florida State.
- The Irish entered the 2021 season with the same kicker and punter for the third straight season with the return of kicker Jonathan Doerer and punter Jay Bramblett.
- Doerer returns for his fifth season with the Irish thanks to the extra year of eligibility and is working his way up the Irish record book.
- In the win over Georgia Tech, Doerer moved into second all-time in Notre Dame history with 53 games played. He passed with Daelin Hayes, Drue Tranquill, Romeo Okwara, Zack Martin and Matthias Farley.
- Doerer also moved into sole possession of fourth all-time in Notre Dame history with 48 career field goals.
- He had a season-best three field goals made and 14 points in the win over North Carolina.
- Bramblett has played in every game (37) for the Irish since he came to campus prior to the 2019 season.
- He sits eighth all-time in Notre Dame history with 157 punts in his career.
- He is ranked fourth all-time in Notre Dame history with a 41.9 career punting average.
- Bramblett launched a career-long 72-yard punt in the win over Wisconsin this season. It was the longest punt by an Irish player since Hunter Smith had a 79-yard punt against Arizona State in 1998.
COAN KNOWS CONSISTENCY
- Quarterback Jack Coan is in his lone season with the Irish as a graduate transfer but is already moving up the Notre Dame record book.
- In his first game with the Irish, he set the Notre Dame record for most passing yards in a season-opener with 366 and tied the record for most passing touchdowns in a season-opener (4).
- Heading into the bowl game, Coan is third all-time in program history for completion percentage in a single season. He has completed 67.6 percent of his passes this year and trails only Jimmy Clausen (68.0 – 2009) and Ian Book (68.2 – 2018).
- The 67.6 completion percentage currently ranks first all-time in Notre Dame history for best completion percentage in a career (min. 150 pass attempts).
- Coan is 10th all-time for most pass completions in a single season heading with 215. He trails current offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, who is ninth with 224 (2013).
- Nationally, Coan ranks 19th this season in completion percentage (67.6).
- Linebacker JD Bertrand continues to lead the Irish in tackles after recording five in the win over Stanford.
- He leads the Irish with 92 tackles on the season and he has led or tied for the team lead in tackles in eight of the 12 games this season.
- The 92 tackles are the most by an Irish linebacker since Te’von Coney had 123 in the 2018 season.
- He has had at least six tackles in nine games this season and seven tackles or more in seven games.
- He has totaled double-digit tackles in four games this season after having 10 in the win over Virginia Tech.
- Bertrand tied a career high with 12 tackles in the win over Purdue. He tallied 11 tackles against Toledo and had 12 in the season-opener against Florida State.
- The sophomore from Marietta, Georgia was the first Irish player to begin a season with three-straight double-digit tackle games since Courtney Watson back in 2001.
- He is also the first Irish player to have three-consecutive games (Florida State, Toledo and Purdue) with double-digit tackles since Alohi Gilman in 2018-19. Gilman had 10 tackles against Southern Cal and then 18 against Clemson in the College Football Playoff Semifinal in 2018 and followed it up with 10 tackles in the 2019 season opener against Louisville.
- In the win over Toledo, Bertrand set a career high in sacks (1.0) and recovered his first career fumble to seal the game late in the fourth quarter.
- Bertrand got his first career start in the opener against Florida State and his 12 tackles were the most by an Irish linebacker since Te’von Coney had 16 on Dec. 28, 2018 against Clemson.
AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
- Since the start of 2018, Notre Dame is 44-6 (.880). That rate ranks fourth among all teams who have made an appearance in the College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014.
- Among those teams, Notre Dame is one of just five teams that have totaled six or fewer losses since the beginning of 2018.
- The Irish are one of five teams who have made playoff appearances in multiple seasons.
IRISH IN THE POLLS
- The Irish checked in at No. 5 in the final AP and Coaches poll of the regular season.
- Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for 77-consecutive weeks, the longest such streak for the Irish since the 1994 season (124 weeks).
- It is now the third-longest streak in program history, surpassing the 75-week streak from 1942-1950.
COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS