The Irish are in a tailspin, currently. The Irish defense has allowed 897 total yards in the last two games, and 72 points. The Irish offense has rushed 875 yards on the year—not bad numbers. But, if you take away the 352 rushing yards against Pittsburgh, the Irish have rushed for just 523 yards on the ground this year (75 yards rushing per game and 3.1 yards per carry).
The Irish passing game has come alive recently, however. Freshman quarterback Brady Quinn has shown he's a capable passer, and an understanding of the offense.
Quinn's 350-yard passing performance against Boston College was the most by an Irish quarterback since 1978 when Joe Montana threw for 358 yards against USC in a loss.
Some targets are starting to emerge for Quinn as well in Rhema McKnight, Omar Jenkins, Anthony Fasano, and Maurice Stovall. The four combined for 17 catches, 284 yards, and a pair of touchdowns against Boston College. The Irish would be smart to use this combination early to set up the run.
The Seminoles enter the game clicking on offense. They average 424 yards of total offense and almost 34 points per game. Their defense has been outstanding so far this year. They are allowing just 280 yards of total offense, and just 12 points a game. They also have 28 sacks and 22 turnovers on the season.
The Irish defeated the Seminoles last year in Tallahassee 34-24. The Seminoles held the Irish to a 10-10 tie at half, but the Irish exploded for 24 unanswered points in the second half. The Seminoles tacked on two late touchdowns as the Irish went into prevent defense with the game out of reach.
These two teams have gone in vastly different directions since that game. The Seminoles are 11-3 since the game last year in Tallahassee--the Irish are 4-9 since their big win. The Irish win against the Seminoles was said to be a statement that the Irish were indeed back, and a team to be reckoned with--the Seminoles were said to be a team in decline under the aging Bobby Bowden—two statements that couldn't be further from the truth.
Florida State has revenge on their minds as they walk into this game. They should be highly motivated as they are still in the hunt for the National Championship. The Irish have little left to play for except their own pride. After watching the game last week, we're not sure that is a big enough prize for this Irish team.
The Irish looked to be asleep at the wheel in the first three quarters against Boston College last week. If they are even half-asleep in this game, it could become ugly.
The Irish need a complete game on offense, defense, and special teams to defeat the Seminoles. They also need to protect the football. The Seminoles can be beat; we're just not sure the Irish will want this game more than Florida State.
The beginning of the game will be critical for Notre Dame. They Irish cannot play catch up with Florida State. If they are put into obvious pass situations, Brady Quinn will be running for his life. If they Irish can hang in there with them for a half, they have a chance to win. If they Irish are down more than 10 points, it could be a long game.
We think the Seminoles will want the game more. Considering the way the Irish opened the game against Boston College—in a game they had something to play for—we can't see Notre Dame playing at the level of intensity needed to win.
We think Florida State will control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball from the very beginning. This game could get out of hand in the end. Florida State 34 Notre Dame 13.