FSU vs. Notre Dame Preview and Prediction

Florida State hosts fifth-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday, and the matchups favor the Seminoles.

Jason Staples - Publisher

Notre Dame may be the highest-ranked team that Florida State will play during the regular season, but after film review I’m not sure the Irish are actually better than Clemson, though I was much higher on the Irish in the preseason than most.

The Irish have played a soft schedule so far, with their 31-0 whitewashing of an Michigan team we now know was awful initially vaulting them up the standings and a last-second, fourth-down victory at home against offensively-challenged Stanford keeping them there.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a very good football team. I do think this Notre Dame team is better than the 2012 team that played for the BCS National Championship, primarily because quarterback Everett Golson and the offense are better than that 2012 offense.

That also doesn’t mean that this won’t be a close game, as both Clemson and Oklahoma State pushed Florida State, with FSU very fortunate to escape against the Tigers without Jameis Winston.

But after spending a lot of time looking at this game, I don’t think this Notre Dame team matches up especially well with this Florida State team, as it does not have strengths that line up with FSU’s weaknesses. For example, FSU’s weaknesses on defense have been on the defensive interior and on the edge against the run, but Notre Dame’s offense is weakest on the interior offensive line, making it tougher for the Irish to take advantage of that.

Florida State has had trouble pressuring the passer in 2013, but the combination of Notre Dame’s trouble on the inside and Golson’s lack of height should help in that department. I expect FSU to mush-rush most of this game, trying to compress the pocket while staying in careful rush lanes to keep the 5’11 Golson in the pocket and uncomfortable. Golson has shown a penchant for turning the ball over when pressured the last few games, and if that continues, this one could get out of hand.

Explosive linebacker Matthew Thomas also returns just in time for the Seminoles. I expect to see Thomas on the field a bunch in this game, shadowing Golson in some situations and making use of his smooth coverage skills against the Notre Dame spread in others. It’s going to be more difficult for Golson to run away from Thomas than Reggie Northrup and E.J. Levenberry, who are both better suited to playing between the tackles than against a dual-threat QB in the spread.

I still expect Notre Dame to have some success moving the ball, largely because of Golson’s feet and FSU’s lack of depth on the defensive line, but I don’t think this Irish offense can score enough to beat FSU (30+) without serious help from turnovers and special teams.

On the offensive side of the ball, I expect Notre Dame to have trouble covering Florida State’s receivers, particularly when FSU moves Rashad Greene and Bobo Wilson into the slot to take advantage of the Irish safeties and nickel corners. If Winston is on in this game, I think it could get ugly against an Irish secondary that was exposed a bit last week against North Carolina.

Notre Dame does have some quickness on the defensive line, so I’ll be watching to see if the FSU offensive line continues to emerge in this game as they shake off a poor early start to the season. The loss of Mario Pender for this game definitely hurts, but Karlos Williams’ return should ease that somewhat as Williams had begun to look much more comfortable and natural in the four quarters before his own ankle sprain against Wake Forest.

Finally, I think this FSU team has been a little bored the last few weeks, and a top-5 Notre Dame team will definitely have their full attention. I expect FSU to come out with more intensity than we’ve seen from them since the second half against Clemson. That said, Notre Dame remains a scary opponent for the Seminoles because of how good Golson can be if he gets comfortable, so I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if the Irish took FSU down to the wire given a couple turnovers.

But in the end, that’s not what I think is most likely in this one. I think FSU makes a statement in this game by putting away the Irish before the start of the fourth quarter, winning comfortably despite giving up a late score. FSU 41-24.

Wayne McGahee III: Staff Writer

Florida State is in for arguably their toughest test of the season on Saturday night. It seems as if the entire nation aside from Tallahassee wants the Seminoles to lose. They were dropped to No. 2 in the polls. Jameis Winston is being vilified by every nation media source in the United States. Good. Florida State has played uninspired football for the first six games of the season. I expect everything that has happened this week to motivate the team.

Notre Dame has a very average secondary and just lost arguably their best player, and captain, Austin Collinsworth due to a knee injury. Also, when Cody Riggs is your best cornerback there are serious issues. Florida State will be able to take advantage of that unit and unless the Irish sit back and play zone the whole game Winston will be able to manufacture some big plays.

On offense Everett Golson is a very talented player. He runs and throws the ball very well. What he doesn’t do well is hang on to the football. In the last three games Golson has cost his team eight turnovers. Five fumbles and three interceptions. If he can’t hold on to the football against this defense it could be a very long day for Notre Dame.

My last point is that this Notre Dame team has not played in a hostile environment yet. They have played two neutral site games and the rest have been at home. Now they’re coming into a stadium with a very angry Florida State crowd that is looking to take out their anger on something. I don’t think the Irish can overcome all those factors. Florida State wins 41-27 with Notre Dame scoring late when the game is out of reach.

P.S. Rudy was offsides.

Scouting Malik Henry

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See what Nole fans are saying here

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