Preview and pick for Notre Dame vs. Florida State
As most BetOnline customers are aware, the Florida State Seminoles were once one of the more prominent college football programs in the land. But those days seem well in the past, as there have been three straight losing seasons in Tallahassee. Naturally, Mike Norvell and his staff are anxious to change that.
But there is a big obstacle in their path on Sunday night, as they must get past the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game that begins 7:30 PM ET at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.
The Fighting Irish are coming off an appearance in the four-team college football playoff, where they were smoked by Alabama. They pinned a regular season loss on Clemson, although that came with #1 overall NFL pick Trevor Lawrence sidelined with the coronavirus.
Notre Dame comes to the table ranked #9 in the nation by the Associated Press and #7 by the coaches.
In the college football odds that have been established on this game, the Irish are favored on the road:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish -7
Florida State Seminoles +7
Over 53.5 points -110
Under 53.5 points -110
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Notre Dame said goodbye to quarterback Ian Book, who graduated, and they will be starting Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan at the position. Coan completed just under 70% with 18 TD's in his last year with the Badgers. Kyren Williams is still in the backfield, and that is important to note since the Irish ran roughshod in last year's meeting, running for 353 yards in a 45-26 victory. They have, however, had to replace four of the five starters on the offensive line. That's important too, since unlike Book, Coan is not known as a runner from the QB spot. And the receiving corps is a work in progress.
Florida State obviously has had some issues to work out along the defensive line, and Norvell hopes that he will get some help there from SEC transfers Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas. It may wind up being a bit of a crapshoot there.
At quarterback, FSU may do some shuttling. They have one of the great college football stories - indeed, their own version of the Alex Smith story - with McKenzie Milton, who suffered a gruesome knee injury at UCF and sat out three years. We're not sure what to expect out of him. As for Jordan Travis, he is not a polished passer, but he can be an electrifying runner. Notre Dame hired Marcus Freeman as the new defensive coordinator, and he loves to blitz. Norvell knows this, because his Memphis team played against Freeman's Cincinnati defense twice in 2019. In Travis they have the perfect QB to punish a stop unit that isn't effective with its blitzes.
Yes, stopping the run will be a challenge for FSU. But remember that last year they were very much in the game until deep into the third quarter, despite being dominated at the line of scrimmage. Florida State has managed to add some young talent with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. And emotions are going to be VERY high as this game is dedicated to legendary former coach Bobby Bowden, who recently passed away. With Travis a key man, FSU has a possibility to pull off the unexpected. So taking the points isn't the worst idea in the world.
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