The no. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will put their undefeated record on the line this week when they host the Florida State Seminoles. The action is set to kick off at 7:30 EST on Saturday, November 10, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
Oddsmakers list the Fighting Irish as 18-point favorites at home with an over/under of 54.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 11 college football odds.
For Notre Dame, the formula is simple: keeping winning and they’ll reach the College Football Playoff. Following last week’s road game against Northwestern, the Irish are 9-0 and firmly entrenched in the top-4 of the CFP rankings. If they win their last three games of the season, they will play in the CFP.
Of course, it’ll only take one loss for everything to come undone. With no conference championship game to give them a 13th game and a somewhat modest schedule, Notre Dame can’t survive a loss and remain in the top-4. Every game is a must-win game for them.
Florida State, meanwhile, is just trying to salvage their season by reaching a bowl game. With three losses in their last four games, the Seminoles are 2-5 in ACC play and 4-5 overall. There is also a bit of a quarterback controversy in Tallahassee as well. Deondre Francois sat out last week’s loss with an injury. However, backup James Blackman played well enough to perhaps earn another start. Of course, head coach Willie Taggart isn’t tipping his hand as to which one will get the start against Notre Dame
No matter who’s playing quarterback, the Seminoles need to win two of their last three games in order to be bowl eligible. On the bright side, two of those three games will come at home. The caveat is that all three games are against ranked teams. If Florida State loses this week, they’ll come home knowing their backs are against the wall.
While these are two of the marquee programs in college football, they’ve met just four previous times this century. The Seminoles have won three of the four, including a bowl game in 2011 and a 31-27 win in Tallahassee in 2014. However, both rosters have been completely turned over since that game.
This is a big spread to cover, especially for a Notre Dame team that’s only won four of their nine games by a margin this big. But Florida State is such a mess that I can see them getting run off the field in the 2nd half. Once the excitement of facing Notre Dame in South Bend wears off, the Seminoles won’t have the talent to keep up. I’ll swallow the points and lean toward Notre Dame to cover.
Regardless of who plays quarterback for FSU, their offensive line remains a huge liability. Running back Cam Akers still can’t get it going on the ground behind such a futile offensive line. Considering Notre Dame’s talent in the front-7, that isn’t likely to change this week. The Seminoles have also conceded five sacks in each of the last two weeks. That’s another trend that will likely continue against the Irish.
Even though Blackman ended up posting good numbers last week, Florida State didn’t start scoring until they fell behind 17-0 early in the game. Against teams with any kind of quality on defense, the Seminoles have struggled to score points. The bottom line is that FSU is 107th nationally in points scored while Notre Dame has a top-20 defense. In short, Florida State isn’t going to score a lot of points in this game.
Unfortunately for the Seminoles, their defense has been equally to blame for the team’s struggles this year. In their seven ACC games, FSU is giving up close to 33 points per game. That average has increased dramatically the past two weeks with lopsided losses against ranked teams.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish have scored at least 31 points in five of their last six games since Ian Book took over as the starting quarterback. Outside of one sluggish game against Pittsburgh, the Notre Dame offense has been virtually impossible to contain for four quarters. Book is completing close to 75% of his passes while Dexter Williams continues to supply a steady rushing attack. If Florida State can slow down Williams, they may have a chance to slow down the Irish a little. But that could be asking a lot, especially with a potent passing attack to worry about.
In the end, Notre Dame knows they can’t let their foot off the gas, and I don’t think that’ll be a problem at home. With the way Florida State’s season has gone, if the Irish can start fast, the Seminoles may not put up much of a fight. Remember, FSU lost to Clemson by 49 points at home just a couple weeks ago. Notre Dame may not match that margin of victory, but they have a chance to come close. I’ll gladly swallow the points and lean toward the Irish to cover.