The ninth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will invade Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles of Florida State. Let’s break it all down and determine which side is the sharp side in this Week 1 college football showdown!
Notre Dame vs. Florida State
Sunday, September 5, 2021 – 7:30 PM ET at Doak Campbell Stadium
Last season Notre Dame was ultimately proven to be more of a pretender than a contender after losing a rematch to Clemson, only this time the Tigers had their stellar quarterback and future No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence under center.
The second of two games between the schools was for the ACC title and it wasn’t even close as the Tigers mauled the Irish, 34-10, and Lawrence lit up the Notre Dame secondary for 322 yards while their defense held Notre Dame to just 44 yards on the ground and 219 through the air.
But redemption was in Notre Dame’s sights as they copped the fourth and final spot entering the College Football Playoff for a date with Alabama. However, the result was nearly identical as they fell to the Tide, 31-14, and had no answer for the riddle that was Mac Jones, who torched the Irish for four touchdowns and nearly 300 passing yards.
And that was how Notre Dame’s promising season ended. It was a successful campaign by most standards, finishing as the No.4 ranked team in the nation and getting one of the four CFP bids, but their last two games illustrated the wide gap between the good and great teams in college football.
Notre Dame’s schedule in 2021 has only one preseason top 10 team on its slate which comes in the first Saturday in October as they welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats to the Golden Dome.
Noles Looking to Rebound
Florida State wound up with a dismal 3-6 straight-up record (3-6 ATS) last season but at least they ended on a high note by beating Duke in their last contest of the year. The college football odds at all of the best online sportsbooks were unanimous in offering the Seminoles as three-point home chalk and they did not disappoint their backers, cruising to a 56-35 victory and easily covering the three-point impost.
Although Jordan Travis took the lion’s share of the snaps under center for the Seminoles last year, head coach Mike Norvell has not divulged who the starter will be as of this Friday morning writing.
“It’ll be revealed (by) who runs out on the field at 7:44 there on Sunday night,” Norvell said with a smile. “Like I said at the beginning of this, guys will know. We’re excited about the quarterback room, the opportunity that’s ahead for us. And those guys have competed really well, and I’m excited about what we’ve seen.”
Jordan Travis is about as mobile a quarterback as the Irish will see this year but injuries have put a damper on his career thus far. Travis’ chief rival for the starting position is McKenzie Milton, a UCF transfer who was one of the most dynamic passers in the nation before suffering a gruesome right knee dislocation accompanied by ligament, nerve, and artery damage. After rehabbing for the last two seasons, Milton said he’s ready to roll.
“I feel comfortable out there,” Milton said during Atlantic Coast Conference media days Thursday. “I feel like I can make all of the throws. I can run. I can jump. Physically, I feel fine.”
Wanna Make a Bet?
The first few games of the season are always tough to predict because we are looking at last season as a barometer of what this season will hold. And while that can be somewhat true, we also know that there are graduating seniors along with incoming freshmen that can radically change that dynamic.
But that said, what we do know is that the Irish had a terrific defense last season, especially against lower-echelon clubs, holding opponents to 19.7 points per game, ranking them 14th in the nation in that category.
Compare that to the 36 PPG (105th) by Florida State and we’ve got a huge disparity in the quality and depth on defense. Moreover, this is a rematch from last year when Notre Dame defeated FSU, 42-26, but failed to cover the 21-point spread.
This year things have tightened up and the Irish will no longer have Ian Book slinging, as he is now plying his trade with the New Orleans Saints. Jack Coan, a transfer student from Wisconsin, will assume the reins of the Irish offense and although his mobility is not comparable to Book’s, he should be able to exploit what was a woeful Seminoles defense.
The oddsmakers are giving us just enough rope to hang ourselves with the Irish, dropping from an opener of Notre Dame -7 ½ to where it now stands at -7 a few days before kickoff. While that may not sound like a ringing endorsement of Notre Dame, it’s hard to load up on any team in the first week of the season because there are so many question marks.
What we do know is that the Irish defense should acquit itself nicely and if their offense is even serviceable, it should be a double-digit win by the visitors.
Free College Football Pick: Notre Dame – 7 (-110) at Bet365