Notre Dame returns to action today to take on Florida State on Senior Day and there is no shortage of storylines for the Irish. This game was supposed to be a marquee matchup but the Seminoles have not gotten the memo under first year head coach Willie Taggart. The Seminoles limp into this one today with a 4-5 record and the prospects of missing a bowl game for the first time in 30 years staring them in the face. Here’s a quick look at all of the Irish storylines today in the final home game of 2018.
Ian Book will NOT play
Everyone knows this by now – hopefully – but Ian Book will not play this weekend and his status for next weekend is in doubt as well. Book sustained multiple injuries to his midsection last week and will not suit up this weekend. Brandon Wimbush, the man who beat Michigan this year and blew out USC last year – gets the start today on Senior Day. It’s a very fitting way for the final home game this year to play out for Wimbush given his up and time career at Notre Dame.
With Book out the Notre Dame offense will hopefully look much different today. Not that the offense hasn’t been fantastic the last two months – it has. It’s just that Wimbush doesn’t have the same skill set to run the same offense Book has been running. With Wimbush, expect a much heavier dose of zone reads and for the QB run to be more involved. With Wimbush’s huge arm, look for Notre Dame to dial up a lot of deep bombs and hope for the WR’s to haul in some contested catches or for some pass interferences.
The Weather will be COLD
Current conditions from friends on the ground confirm it’s cold as hell in the parking lots today without a hint of sun. This is a huge advantage for Notre Dame today with Florida State leaving the 77 degree weather of Tallahassee yesterday for the freezing temperatures and mounds of snow in South Bend.
With the direction Florida State’s season is headed, weather like this could make for a very uninspired effort by the Seminoles. Some players have already openly questioned the effort being given by their teammates this season. Combine that with temperatures almost none of their team is used to and you have a big Irish advantage.
This should NOT have been Senior Day
This game was not originally meant to be Senior Day. Next week against Syracuse was but Notre Dame decided to move that game to Yankee Stadium for the cash of the Shamrock Series. Notre Dame has not played at home in almost a month since the last two games have been on the road and there was a bye week following the near disaster against Pitt back in early October.
Notre Dame WILL be wearing green jerseys
The Notre Dame seniors wanted to wear green jerseys for their final home game and Notre Dame obliged. Green jerseys are always a hot topic among Notre Dame fans, but the ones that Notre Dame posted yesterday look fantastic. It will be interesting to see how the look together with the full inform, but the jerseys themselves are sharp.
Notre Dame last wore green on Senior Day in 2006 for Army to celebrate the Brady Quinn senior class. This class, like Quinn’s, endured some hard times at Notre Dame only to turn things around.
Looking for back to back 10 win seasons for the first time in 20+ years
If Notre Dame wins today they will notch their 10th win of the season and back to back 10 win seasons for the first time since 1992-1993. That’s a 25 year hiatus of back to back 10 win seasons for the Irish. The fact that this year’s senior class was a big part in that turnaround is the #1 reason why they should be allowed to wear whatever the hell jerseys they want today.
With three games left and a bowl game (maybe more than one if they reach the playoffs), this feels inevitable, but it would be nice to get the 10th win at home in front of the Notre Dame Stadium crowd.
Today will be the last game for some great players
Notre Dame fans will get their last looks for sure at a few players we’ll be talking about for a while.
- Jerry Tillery – Had one hell of an up and down career with many openly questioning how much he cared about football. He’s had a hell of a senior season and could be playing his way to being a first round pick. He’s been a bit quiet since Stanford, look for him to make a statement on senior day.
- Drue Tranquill – It looked like his 5th year might have ended prematurely a few weeks ago, but the physical specimen didn’t even miss a week. He will be back to being an every down player again this week. Enjoy his final game at home, it’s rare to have a player as dedicated as Tranquil..
- Tevon Coney – He could have left for the NFL last year after his monster Citrus Bowl, but he came back and has been lights out. He is leading Notre Dame in tackles again this year and it would be nice to see him get another INT in his home finale and reach the endzone this time.
- Sam Mustipher – Another player who had an up and down career and even got called out by Kelly (undeservedly) after his bad shotgun snaps in a hurricane two years ago. He never wavered though and has become a team leader.
Hopefully today is not the last game for these guys
Notre Dame’s playoff run was fueled largely by Tillery, Tranquill, and Coney coming back instead of leaving for the NFL this year. None of these players are likely to leave for the NFL but these 5th year possibilities for next year are huge for Notre Dame.
- Asmar Bilal – Took to ROVER better than expected and likely moves to BUCK next year ala Tranquill. Could be in store for a big 5th year.
- Chris Finke – Former walkon who just keeps making plays. He’s got a year left and likely returns if for nothing else than for his punt return ability.
- Shaun Crawford – Kid has dealt with some crushing injuries over his career, including a 3rd major one this year. He is planning on returning one more time and trying to play next year.
- Miles Boykin – Has become Notre Dame’s top wide receiver ever since his miraculous touchdown in the Citrus Bowl. His speed will be a drawback for the NFL, but he is a chain moving monster and should be back in 2019.
A couple players who have a 5th year available might not be back next year.
- Brandon Wimbush – It would be a shock if this wasn’t his last home game today. Wimbush can be a starter somewhere, just not in the offense at Notre Dame. That said, I think he is going to go out in style with a typical Brandon Wimbush game where he makes some ridiculous plays.
- Alize Mack – Mack has another year, but to date he has never quite established himself as a go to target despite his freakish athletic skills. He will be one to watch this off-season.
Today could be the last game for some others with eligibility
- Julian Love – Of all of Notre Dame’s juniors, Love is the most likely to leave early because he is really damn good. He has the talent to be a pretty early pick this year, but his top end 40 time might not be enough to make him high enough of a pick to leave.
- Khalid Kareem – The NFL loves pass rushers and Kareem is a great pass rusher from the strong side. It would seem doubtful that he would leave early based on how the season has played out, but you never know since the NFL is desp