Pick: Florida State Seminoles vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Florida State Seminoles (4-5 SU, 3-6 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-0 SU, 5-4 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 10th, 7:30 PM
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Point Spread: FSU +18 / ND -18
Over/Under Total: 54.5
Florida State heads north to Indiana to take on Notre Dame for a primetime showdown on Saturday Night. The Seminoles lead the all-time series 6-2, which includes wins in the last three games between the teams.
Last week saw another loss to a quality opponent for Florida State, which in turn dropped them to 4-5 on the season. This now puts their record 36-year bowl streak in serious jeopardy, as after Notre Dame they still have left to play both Boston College and Florida. The Eagles destroyed FSU last year 35-3 while the Gators will be looking for revenge after having lost the previous five years in a row. There is an NCAA rule that allows a 5-7 team to qualify for bowl eligibility, but to do so they have to be in high academic standing, which based upon everything I’ve ever seen on and especially off the field from the Seminoles I would have to assume they don’t come close to qualifying for.
It remains to be seen who will be starting at quarterback for Florida State after Deondre Francois was unable to play last week against NC State due to injury. James Blackman has played well in his absence, completing 65% of his passes while throwing for five touchdowns compared only one interception. Both marks are better than Francois’, who throughout the season has been one of many disappointments on this Seminole squad.
A tough test awaits Florida State in a Notre Dame defense that ranks 19th in scoring and 25th in yards allowed per game. Their backfield is led by sophomore Cam Akers, who has rushed for just under 500 yards on the year while scoring three touchdowns. The receivers are highlighted by Nyquan Murray, their leader in receptions and yards, and Tamorrion Terry, who has seven touchdowns on 23 catches so far this year. As a whole, they will need to step up even more if they want to reach that bowl eligibility, and there is indeed a lot of room for improvement for an offense that ranks 108th in scoring, 128th in rushing and 105th in yards per game.
For Notre Dame, the story of their offense continues to be Ian Book, who was on point again versus Northwestern, especially in the second half when he completed 15 of 19 passes while accounting for three touchdowns. He now leads the NCAA in completion percentage with a mark of 74.5 while also ranking 6th in QB rating and on the season has thrown for 15 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions while also scoring four times on the ground.
One area that the Irish should be able to attack Florida State is through the air, as the Seminoles have just the 120th rated pass defense in the country. This could mean big things for wide receivers Myles Boykin, who has scored a touchdown in five straight games, and Chase Claypool, who is coming off his best game of the season that saw him catch eight passes for 130 yards. Tight end Alize Mack is also expected back from a concussion injury that sidelined him a week ago, which adds yet another weapon for Book and the Irish offense to exploit on a troubled Seminole defense.
With LSU’s loss to Alabama, Notre Dame now finds themselves at 3rd in the BCS standings. After this weeks’ game against FSU, they have on the docket a game against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium followed by a season-ending matchup at rival USC. If they are able to win out, they would as of now be matched up against Clemson in the BCS semi-finals and get to avoid having to face an NFL caliber Alabama team until the Championship Game. For that to happen though, they cannot afford a single misstep, and with two tough road contests awaiting them after this week, it promises to be an exciting end to the Irish regulars season.
THE FINAL DECISION
One of the biggest keys to this weeks game is how much left in the tank that Florida State has and how much drive they have after suffering through such a disappointing season. With a bowl berth still in their grasp, I do expect them to come out motivated and ready to play. While I think Notre Dame will undoubtedly get a relatively easy win by games end, I will be taking the 18 point head start and going with Florida State to get the cover in South Bend.
Mike’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Florida State +18