Notre Dame Football Primer: #7 Fighting Irish Travel to Florida State

Notre Dame kicks off their 2021 season on the road in Tallahassee against the rebuilding Florida State Seminoles

Brian Kelly has Notre Dame ranked #7 in the Preseason Coaches Poll, and the Fighting Irish are primed to make another playoff run this year. The season will kick off in Tallahassee against Mike Norvell’s Florida State Seminoles. These two programs have been a part of several classics that go back to Lou Holtz and Bobby Bowden. Doak Campbell Stadium will undoubtedly be rocking Sunday Night for the Fighting Irish and Seminoles.

Essential Game Info

  • Game Time: Sunday, September 5th at 7:30 PM ET on ABC
  • Location: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida
  • Matchup History: The Irish are 4-6 all-time against the Florida State Seminoles (Last Meeting 2020: Notre Dame won 42 to 26)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -7.5

Florida State Details

  • Conference: ACC (Atlantic Division)
  • Head Coach: Mike Norvell
  • 2020 Record: 3-6 (2-6)
  • 2019 Record: 6-7 (4-4)

Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 24% chance of rain with a high of 89 degrees and a low of 71.

Florida State Storylines:

The Seminoles enter year two under Mike Norvell. Since Jimbo Fisher left, there have been struggles in Tallahassee. Several coaches have tried to get the program back to relevance in the ACC and become a national title contender once again.

Norvell was highly successful as the Memphis Tigers Head Coach, but then again, so was Scott Frost at UCF. Only time will tell if he can bring the Seminoles back to glory.

Is there a quarterback battle in Tallahassee? From all indications, it appears Jordan Travis will start for the Seminoles. Last year against the Irish, Travis went 13 for 24 with 204 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception. On the ground, he had 19 carries for one touchdown. Second-string quarterback McKenzie Milton was successful at UCF and led the Knights to an undefeated season.

He could be an option if the Florida State Offense struggles early on.

Key Florida State Players. The Offense returns running back Jashaun Corbin and wide receiver Ontaria Wilson from a year ago. Corbin had 81 attempts for 401 rushing yards (5 yards per carry) with 5 rushing touchdowns, while Wilson tallied 30 receptions for 382 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Florida State defense will be bolstered by defensive end Jermaine Johnson, a transfer from Georgia. In 2020, Johnson tallied 14 tackles with 4 sacks.

Notre Dame Storylines

Jack Coan takes over under center. Coan had a 70% completion percentage in his last season at Wisconsin with 2,727 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Coan has been overlooked by most of college football heading into this season. This fall, under Jack Coan, fans are hoping to see an expanded downfield passing attack. Wide receivers Braden Lenzy and Kevin Austin Jr. should bolster the receiving core with their speed and athleticism.

In this week one matchup, I expect Coan’s legs to also play a factor. However, his running capability is often ignored and could play a part in the Irish Offense.

Marcus Freeman’s first game as defensive coordinator. It feels like Coach Freeman has been in South Bend forever, but this will be his first test on the gridiron. Marcus Freeman has already proven he is one of the best recruiters in the country, and now it is time to coach up a gifted Notre Dame Defense.

Heading into this primetime matchup, the Irish will need a stellar defensive performance to come away with a victory.

Irish face quality test in week one. This may not be the Floria State Seminoles from the Jimbo Fisher Era, but they have a lot of talent and have added new transfers to their roster. Every fanbase is optimistic about week one, and when Florida State is good, Doak Campbell is one of the most challenging venues in college football.

Even though Brian Kelly has won two in a row against Florida State, you can bet he is hungrier than ever to beat the Seminoles in Tallahassee after what happened in 2014.

Head-to-Head Matchups

Notre Dame Offense vs. Florida State Defense: In 2020, the Fighting Irish averaged 448 total yards per game, while the Florida State Defense gave up 456 yards per contest. There has been a lot of change on the Irish Offense, but Jack Coan has the experience, Kyren Williams is a Pre-season AP All-American, and Michael Mayer can be an All-American by the end of the season.

I give Notre Dame the advantage in this matchup.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Florida State Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Seminoles averaged 26 points per game in 2020, while the Irish only surrendered 20 points per contest. Under offensive-minded Mike Norvell, I expect Florida State’s Offense to be better in 2021, but Notre Dame still has one of the best defenses in the nation.

I give the Irish the advantage.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: The Florida State kicking game is headlined by kicker Parker Grothaus. In 2020, Grothaus went 4 for 7 with a long of 53-yards. Conversely, Jonathan Doerer was 15 for 23 with a long of 51-yards. As I said before, if Chris Tyree is returning kickoffs, he is a threat to return one to the endzone on any play.

There is no distinct advantage in this matchup.

Advantage: Tie

My Prediction

Last year, I felt like the Irish made many mistakes against the Seminoles and should have won by even more. For example, there were several instances that Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree went untouched into the endzone. Yes, this game is being played at Doak Campbell Stadium, but I think Brian Kelly and his team will be prepared for this matchup.

Obviously, it will be critical to get off a fast start (obviously) and take the crowd out of the game. Notre Dame has a strong running attack and defense, which travels on the road. I am excited to see what Tommy Rees has planned for Jack Coan, Braden Lenzy, Kevin Austin Jr., Avery Davis, and Michael Mayer. If the Irish passing attack can complement Williams and Tyree, it will be a good night for Notre Dame.

Prediction: Notre Dame 34 Florida State 24

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One Comment

  1. Being the only Sunday game, the TV ratings should be great.
    But a Georgia-Clemson opening act ?!
    Beers on Saturday….keep the hard liquor for Sunday.

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