October 17, 2014 - by
First and 10: No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 5 Notre Dame

 First and 10 

1st and 10

  

Game On

 

No. 2 Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC) vs. No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 8 p.m., Doak Campbell Stadium

TV/Radio: ABC/Seminole IMG Radio Network (103.1 FM in Tallahassee)

Know The Foe

 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Coach: Brian Kelly (43-15 in five seasons at Notre Dame, 214-72-2 overall)

Last game: Notre Dame overcame three turnovers by quarterback Everett Golson and came back from a 14-point deficit to beat North Carolina, 50-43.

Last game vs. Florida State: Freshman Rashad Greene had 99 yards and a touchdown, all in the second half, as Florida State scored 15 fourth-quarter points to rally for an 18-14 victory over the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame vs. Florida State all-time: FSU owns a 5-2 record against ND

1981: No. 20 Florida State 19, NOTRE DAME 13

1993: No. 2 NOTRE DAME 31, No. 1 Florida State 24

1994: No. 8 Florida State 23, Notre Dame 16 *

1996: No. 8 Florida State 31, No. 6 Notre Dame 26 **

2002: No. 6 Notre Dame 34, No. 11 FLORIDA STATE 24

2003: No. 5 Florida State 37, NOTRE DAME 0

2011: No. 25 Florida State 18, Notre Dame 14 ***

2014: No. 2 FLORIDA STATE vs. No. 5 Notre Dame

*– in Orlando, ** — 1996 Orange Bowl, *** — 2011 Champs Sports Bowl

 

Subplots

  • Florida State and Notre Dame meet for the eighth time in history and for the second time as Top-5 opponents. Each team is undefeated and the winner of Saturday’s contest should be considered a front-runner to earn one of the four spots in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
  • The Seminoles and Fighting Irish feature two of college football’s premier quarterbacks. FSU redshirt sophomore Jameis Winston (19-0) and Notre Dame senior Everett Golson (16-1) have a combined winning percentage of .972 as starters.
  • Notre Dame and FSU appear headed in opposite directions in the turnover department. The Irish have turned it over 11 times this season while the Seminoles have earned nine takeaways in their last three contests.
  • FSU’s defense will be bolstered by the return of redshirt freshman linebacker Matthew Thomas, who is eligible to return following an NCAA-related suspension. Just how much Thomas plays has yet to be seen. He’s practiced but hasn’t participated in a game since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury at Boston College last year. Fisher, however, said Thursday that he anticipates Thomas having a “huge” role.
  • After a somewhat slow start, the FSU ground game has got on track in recent weeks thanks to strong efforts from senior Karlos Williams, third-year sophomore Mario Pender and freshman Dalvin Cook. FSU’s backfield, though, could be in for a challenge on Saturday against a Notre Dame defense that ranks 19th nationally against the run. Williams is back after missing last week’s Syracuse game, but Pender (ankle) has been ruled out. 

 Karlos Wiliams

Karlos Williams (photo by Damon Herota)

  • Florida State is used to high-profile games. The Seminoles played in a slew of them last year, none bigger than the BCS National Championship Game. But the Seminoles have a number of key contributors, some of them veterans, who will get their first true taste of the spotlight on Saturday. Receivers Jesus Wilson and Travis Rudolph, linebacker Reggie Northrup and freshmen ends Lorenzo Featherston and Jacob Pugh, among several others, all have big opportunities in front of them.

 

Factors

One offensive and defensive player from each team who could swing the game

Notre Dame: Sophomore running back Tarean Folston is coming off a career game against North Carolina (169 total yards, 3 TDs). He’ll go a long way toward taking some pressure off of Golson if he can sustain his momentum.

Middle linebacker Joe Schmidt is a former walk-on who has emerged as a senior leader for the Irish’s defense. He’s a touch undersized (6-foot, 235) but plays a key role in getting his teammates into the right position.  Schmidt will help determine if ND can slow down FSU’s running attack.

Florida State: Like everyone else, Notre Dame is likely to focus on Rashad Greene. While it’s obviously that Greene is capable of contributing big numbers no matter the circumstances, Saturday should provide the latest opportunity for FSU’s other receivers to have a big impact. Jesus Wilson has emerged as a reliable second receiver and will need to make the Irish pay if they focus too much on Greene.

Jesus 'Bobo' Wilson

Jesus ‘Bobo’ Wilson (photo by Mitch White)

Three weeks ago at NC State, Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett had his way with FSU’s defense until freshmen Featherston and Pugh changed the game with their speed and athleticism. It’s a lot to ask of first-year players, but the pass-rushing duo could take center stage again this week against a quarterback who is at his most dangerous when slipping out of the pocket.

 Math Lesson

Total offense: FSU: 462.5 YPG (31st Nationally); ND: 444.3 (42nd)

Scoring offense: FSU: 39.0 PPG (20th); ND: 34.5 PPG (39th)

Passing offense: FSU: 324.0 YPG (13th); ND: 280.5 YPG (34th)

Rushing offense: FSU: 138.5 YPG (95th); ND: 163.8 (67th)

Total defense: FSU: 358.5 YPG (44th); ND: 348.3 (34th)

Scoring defense: FSU: 20.7 PPG (30th); ND: 17.2 PPG (8th)

Passing defense: FSU: 213.7 YPG (40th); ND: 237.8 YPG (67th)

Rushing defense: FSU: 144.8 YPG (54th); ND: 110.5 YPG (19th)

 

“This is a very tight-knit group of guys. That’s how they respond. They compartmentalize things, practice, do things like they should do. They’re presented with whatever they have to do at that present time and have done an excellent job.” — FSU coach Jimbo Fisher on dealing with off-field distractions

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Head Coach Jimbo Fisher (photo by Damon Herota)

“The offense is as good as there is out there. It’s going against a defense that, again, we’re starting a lot of young players on that defense. Rebuilt a new front-seven in so many ways against a veteran team that has won 22 (straight) and are the defending national champs.” – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on defending FSU’s offense

“Both these guys, I mean, one guy has one loss as a starter. The other guy is undefeated. They’re the two best starting quarterbacks in the country.” – ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit on quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Everett Golson

“It’s a point where you get to, just kind of fed up. I think that’s where I am. And I’m definitely not going to turn it over.” – Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson on his recent run of turnovers

 

  • Notre Dame’s .285 winning percentage (2-5) against FSU is its worst against any opponent it has faced at least five times.
  • Saturday will mark Notre Dame’s first true road game since a visit to Stanford on Nov. 30, 2013. The Irish have since played neutral-site games in New York, Indianapolis and East Rutherford, N.J.
  • The Irish will also play on natural grass Saturday for the first time this season.
  • Florida State has won seven straight games against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. A win Saturday would match the school record of eight, set in 1993.

 

Watch and Learn

Yes, Florida State lost the game. But you’d still be hard-pressed to find a pregame intro better than this one by NBC in advance of FSU’s visit to Notre Dame in 1993.

Other Takes
The Bottom Line

Florida State’s players and coaches have been answering non-football related questions ever since the clock hit zero in Syracuse. They’ve obviously grown weary of it, and the feeling here is that they’re more than ready to actually get back out on the field.

Just a hunch, but FSU over the last year has shown an uncanny ability to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. If the Seminoles can do that one more time, they should have enough firepower to outscore the Irish and move to 7-0.