Site Predictions: ND/FSU

With my prediction to be included in this afternoon's game preview column, below are Saturday's projections by recruiting reporter and staff writer Anna Hickey and our site moderators.

Anna Hickey

Excluding last year’s Heisman Winner Jameis Winston, this is not the same Florida State Seminoles team that glitzed its way through the regular season to win a national championship. Having endured key losses to the NFL, injuries to the offensive line, running back corp and secondary have likewise crippled the defending champions further. I’ll take Notre Dame’s quarterback, defensive coordinator, and underdog mentality in a close one in Tallahassee.
Notre Dame 30 Florida State 27

GaviND -- Moderator

This is the one we've been waiting for. Not just a test, but THE test of how far Brian Kelly's Notre Dame program has come.

What most viewed as a certain loss for the Irish before the year season is now a winnable game. Florida State has played relatively uninspired football through the season's halfway mark and the Seminoles' embattled quarterback Jameis Winston has once again found himself on the wrong end of controversy.

While the Seminoles are as talented as any team in the country, their defense has been shockingly average this season. In addition to allowing over 350 yards in four of their six games this season (something that happened only twice last year) their historically prolific front seven has only registered eight sacks this season.

For the Irish to win on Saturday night, they are going to have to light up the scoreboard on offense as FSU's Winston-led teams have never put up less than 34 points in a game. To accomplish this, Everett Golson needs to be the X-factor and most importantly, take care of the football. If Golson takes care of the ball and sacrifices a few yards in favor of ball security, the Notre Dame offense should be able to keep the 'Noles on their heels and the Irish offense should be able to move the ball, both through the air and on the ground.

Defensively, the game plan is theory anyway: shut down Rashad Greene. This will take a group effort, but if the Notre Dame secondary can keep the ball out of No. 80's hands, it will go a long way toward slowing the FSU offense and possibly even frustrating Winston.

One thing scares me about this game: For whatever reason, Jameis Winston seems to play his best when his behavior is at its worst. While you would expect the dam to break at some point and for the stress to finally show up, nothing seems to shake this kid.

At the end of the day I think the Irish put forth a valiant effort, keep the game close and prove that they're once again among the nation's elite programs...but when the game hits 0:00 the scoreboard will show more points for the home team.
FSU 45 ND 38

PS: I hope to hell I am wrong.

Morrissey79 -- Moderator

Notre Dame vs Florida State - #5 at #2 - Everett Golson vs Jameis Winston - does it get much better than this?

College Gameday will be in Tallahassee and boy will the place be rockin come Saturday night.

There has been a lot of drama and controversy surrounding FSU pertaining to Winston, but don't expect that to distract them. They've survived that for quite some time, Winston has performed at an elite level through that time, and FSU is an extremely talented team that is well coached by Jimbo Fisher.

FSU's skill players are elite. They're OL is experiences. Their DL is excellent against the run and pressuring the QB. Their linebackers are as fast as our safeties. And their secondary includes potential first round draft picks. They're also the defending national champion and haven't lost in quite some time.

Nobody gave ND a chance preseason in this game - heck sportsbook had a preseason line of FSU-24.5. Some people are starting to think Nd could pull the upset, but for the most part most don't think it's possible.

For me, I'm having a hard time seeing how ND pulls the upset. With the recent influx of turnovers by golson, the inconsistency of the OL and the running game, and an uninspiring performance by a young Irish defense seems to indicate this game will go FSUs way.

That's why I'm predicting:

ND 38 FSU 34 (With the Irish D holding FSU to two huge FGs rather than a TD.)

SeattleNDFan -- Moderator

Florida State awaits the Irish with a speedy, versatile offensive attack but the Irish are far better suited to take on their style than they were either Stanford or North Carolina. Jamies Winston is superbly accurate as a passer but while mobile is nowhere near as elusive as Marquise Daniels was, and make no mistake, it was Daniels' legs that kept North Carolina so close last weekend.  

The key to the Irish stopping the Seminoles and Winston is to stuff their run game, and other teams have had some luck doing that this season. Render them one dimensional and Winston will be forced to win it. He is capable of doing so, but also prone to silly mistakes under pressure, so rather than wait for him to pick them apart, the Irish will likely bring heat against him unlike any game thus far in the Brian VanGorder era. This will likely result in more than a few big plays for both the FSU offense and the ND defense.  

On offense, ND has the X-factor to move the ball against FSU in Everett Golson. If he can avoid silly turnovers and stay healthy, his ability to extend plays will give the Irish several big plays and likely a few long scores. I see this game as one where more scores for both teams come from outside of the red zone than inside. In the end, though I do not see the Irish pulling this out on foreign turf in the first game on natural grass they play all season, but I see this game being close enough that the Irish even with a loss will emerge with an outside chance at still making the first ever college football bowl subdivision playoffs.
Florida State 31 Notre Dame 30  

BNolan -- Moderator

I would love to predict an Irish victory.

Or a day when the lads play hard-nosed inspired football, the line blocks like bulldozers, the defense tackles like grizzlies, and the QB doesn't share the ball with the Seminoles.

But... as much as I want ND to defeat the shamefully corrupt bumfuzzlers, I just don't see it.  I haven't seen enough consistent evidence that the Irish can collectively put it all together, FSU ain't Michigan.

I hope to be woefully, dismally, painfully mistaken. 
F$U 38 ND 27

Amruther24 -- Moderator

This is probably the biggest game the Irish have played in the Brian Kelly era. We've been talking about it the entire offseason and basically since Notre Dame walked off the field after the Stanford game.

I'm not going to overanalyze this week. If the game was in South Bend, I'd be confident. Since it's not, I think the Irish take their first loss of the season.
FSU 35 ND 27

KurzND -- Moderator

Notre Dame fans will fund out what the Irish are made of as Florida State brings an explosive offense, the nation's longest winning streak, as well status of defending champions and the nations best QB -- who has yet to lose a game.  

The Irish defense will have its hands full. FSU's run game is nothing special but ND needs to be aware of the speed that leading rusher Karlos Williams brings and Rashad Greene at WR and Nick O'Leary at TE make a dangerous combination. But Winston is the guy that makes everything run, easily the best QB Notre Dame will face all year. The Irish secondary will need to play its best or the Seminoles could score at will.   

Offensively for Notre Dame it's simple: protect the ball. FSU has some great DBs but they can be beaten, mainly because the FSU defensive line has not been up to its usual standards. Golson will need to be on the top of his game and not turn the ball over to give the Irish a chance. Watch for ND's O-Line to continue to grow and for a talented WR group to make some plays. Even if the defense is amazing, ND will need at least 35 points to win this game.   

Florida State has the off-the-field distractions (which Winston does a fantastic job of putting behind him), playing at home, and have all the pressure on them. The Irish have come though big time in big moments this fall (Michigan, Stanford).  
Notre Dame 37 Florida State 36 Top Stories