It will be an ACC battle in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday when the Florida State Seminoles take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The Seminoles have struggled out of the gate, mustering a 1-2 record and failing to cover the spread in any game. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish are the No. 5 team in the nation on the heels of their 2-0 start.
Notre Dame failed to cover a 21.5-point spread against Duke but covered two weeks ago against South Florida (its scheduled game last week against Wake Forest was postponed due to COVID-19).
Notre Dame is a 20.5-point favorite, with the over/under set at 52. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET on NBC.
Florida State Preview – Going Through Changes
New Florida State head coach Mike Norvell couldn’t have had a tougher start to the season. Preparing a college football team to play in a pandemic is hard enough, and tougher as a new coach.
However, after blowing a lead against Georgia Tech at home in the opener and getting blown out by Miami in Week 2, the Seminoles responded nicely with a 41-24 win over Jacksonville State last Saturday, though they failed to cover the 26.5-point spread.
Florida State’s schedule doesn’t get any easier, hosting No. 8 North Carolina next week, and taking on Pittsburgh and Clemson down the stretch as well.
Junior quarterback James Blackman was benched against Jacksonville State in favor of sophomore Jordan Travis. Travis completed 12-of-17 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown. His performance was good enough to merit being named the starter heading into the Notre Dame game.
The Seminoles offense has struggled following the departure of Cam Akers, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Running backs Lawrance Toafili and Jashuan Corbin have combined for 287 yards in three games, with Toafili accounting for 99 of those yards against Jacksonville State last week.
The offensive line has been at fault, too, allowing eight sacks through the first two games. Failing to provide a push for the running backs and struggling to keep quarterbacks upright is a recipe for disaster against Notre Dame.
Notre Dame Preview – Enjoy It While You Can
When Notre Dame latched onto the ACC for a conference-only season, Fighting Irish faithful realized the golden opportunity in front of them. With only two ranked opponents scheduled in Clemson and North Carolina (and getting the former at home), there’s a chance for Notre Dame to roll through the conference and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff. It’s a major benefit not having to play Stanford, Wisconsin, or USC as originally scheduled.
The Fighting Irish’s strength this year has been in the ground game. Running backs Kyren Williams and C’Bo Flemister have both surpassed the 100-yard mark on the year and combined for three touchdowns.
Freshman Chris Tyree is averaging more than six yards per carry, and quarterback Ian Book has three rushing scores to his credit.
Tight end Tommy Tremble is Book’s favorite target so far, with eight receptions for 104 yards. Williams has managed 103 receiving yards out of the backfield, so stopping him will be Florida State’s focal point.
Notre Dame’s defense has done a good job of limiting points and yards but only has two takeaways on the year. There’s a good chance for that total to double this week, as the Seminoles have thrown five interceptions and lost two fumbles.
The Pick Is In
Florida State’s last win against a Top 25 opponent came against No. 20 Boston College in November of 2018. Conversely, Notre Dame has not lost to an unranked opponent since losing to Virginia Tech in November of 2016.
The Fighting Irish are a much better team in all regards, and, while a 20.5-point spread seems steep, they are still capable of covering at home.
Free Pick: Notre Dame (-20.5)