Notre Dame Blasts Iowa State in Orlando

Ken Cross

December 29, 2019 at 7:49 pm.

ORLANDO – Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool made his swan song for the Fighting Irish a memorable one and running back Tony Jones, Jr., produced his fifth 100-yard rushing effort of the season as the No. 12 Fighting Irish overwhelmed Iowa State, 33-9, in the Camping World Bowl on Saturday afternoon.

In the end, the Fighting Irish were much too much physical and had too many weapons as they dashed to their 12th win of the season. Notre Dame controlled the line of scrimmage in rolling up 455 yards on offense, while limiting the Cyclones to 272.

“All three phases were outstanding today,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. “I thought the defensive performance, when you hold an offense that put 40 points on a team that’s playing in the playoffs (Oklahoma), to no touchdowns, you can’t hide from that.”

Claypool lived up to all of his in-season accolades as he finished the game with seven catches for 146 yards, including a touchdown on Notre Dame’s second drive. His output was surpassed only by a 180-yard effort in a 48-37 Fighting Irish win over Wake Forest in 2017.

The 6-4, 229-pound senior from Abbotsford, British Columbia, stretched outward to haul in a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ian Book to give Notre Dame a 10-0 lead with 3:20 remaining in the first quarter.

He came back in the second quarter with what appeared to be a 43-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Ian Book, but instant replay showed he was short of the goal line. Jafar Armstrong then scored from a yard out to give Notre Dame a 20-3 lead with 3:14 to go before halftime.

“He’s a phenomenal player,” said Iowa State coach Matt Campbell. “We’re supposed to jam him and play an off-jam coverage. Instead of playing an off-jam coverage, our young corner is playing tight-jam coverage and we don’t get any hands on him and really give him a free run on third-and-long.”

Claypool’s catch on a wide receiver screen for 21 yards late in the third quarter defined his dominance better than maybe any play as he made. After the catch and while going through traffic, he picked up Cyclone defenders and carried them to the Iowa State 25-yard line while bulldozing another defender.

Claypool was the MVP of the game and went over 1,000 yards for the season, as he finished with 66 catches for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“For a long time, something like this was a dream that couldn’t be reached,” reminisced Claypool. “I hope I’m an example and live an example of someone if you just keep on dreaming, then that dream will come true.”

Jones, who will he making a decision soon about whether to leave for the NFL or come back for his senior season, rushed 11 times for 135 yards. He took a pitch 84 yards around the left end for a touchdown on Notre Dame’s first play of the second half to give the Fighting Irish a 27-6 lead.

The run was the longest rushing touchdown in Notre Dame’s bowl history, as well as a record in the Camping World Bowl.

“It was the culmination of putting together a running plan – when you see it hit, then you see him go the distance – because he (Jones) has been talked about as a guy that doesn’t have the ability to take you over the top,” said Kelly.

Notre Dame held Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy to 228 yards through the air after he completed the season with six games of 342 yards or more. It was also the first game this season when he didn’t have a touchdown pass. Notre Dame sacked him four times on the afternoon while never letting him settle or roam outside the pocket.

“All year, we have been stingy in the passing defense efficiency and we felt like we were going to be in a good position as long as we rerouted and did some good things,” Kelly explained.

The win meant that the Fighting Irish tied the Notre Dame record for most wins in three consecutive seasons at 33.

Iowa State’s undoing came early in the game when both wide receiver Tariq Milton and Purdy lost fumbles on the first two drives.

The Fighting Irish were able to capitalize when Jon Doerer hit a 39-yard field goal, the first of four field goals on the afternoon, and Book later hit Claypool with the 24-yard TD strike.

Iowa State came into the game with a pair of one-point losses to Iowa and Oklahoma and a two-point defeat at the hands of Baylor as the Bears connected on a field goal on the game’s last play. A 7-5 record could have easily been 10-2.

“Detail and execution,” said Campbell. “Those are little things that prohibited us at times from being the best version of the team we need to be and that starts with me as a coach.”