Thursday, November 8, 2018

No. 3 Notre Dame closes out its home schedule against a familiar foe in Florida State

Photo Credit: Kent Horner- Getty Images
By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

The No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-0) look to continue their undefeated season alive and continue on the road to the College Football Playoff on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC) against the Florida State Seminoles (4-5, 2-5 ACC).

With Notre Dame playing its last “home” game against Syracuse at a neutral site in Yankee Stadium on Nov. 17, the primetime contest serves as senior night at Notre Dame Stadium.

“One of our goals this was was to defend out home field. This will be our last opportunity to do that,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “Finishing that off against Florida State is certainly very important to us.”

The Irish are coming off of a 31-21 victory over Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. On Nov. 3. In the four games Northwestern has played against ranked opponents, Notre Dame’s ten points was the largest margin of victory.

The series history between Notre Dame and Florida State has seen some fantastic matchups. In seven on the nine meetings between the two programs, at least one of the teams has come in at No. 8 or higher in the AP or Coaches’ polls.  Furthermore, in six of the eight previous meetings, the score has been decided by seven points or less.

On Nov. 13, 1993, No. 2 Notre Dame defeated No. 1 Florida State by a score of 31-24 in a game that has been since been dubbed “The Game of the Century”.

Notre Dame will be without starting quarterback Ian Book, who sustained multiple injuries to his midsection throughout the victory over Northwestern. With Book out, the Irish will have Brandon Wimbush under center. Wimbush struggled in the first three games of the season, throwing just one touchdown pass while being intercepted four times. Despite his struggles, Wimbush led Notre Dame to a victory over Michigan in the season opener in South Bend.

Kelly spoke on the importance of Brandon Wimbush to Ian Book and the rest of the Notre Dame offense on Tuesday.

“He’s been a great teammate to Ian Book, quite frankly. He’s been as supportive as any player on our team that I’ve ever coached,” Kelly said. “He’s been such a big part of our success this year. He’s got to stay ready. Who knows what happens, right?”

Florida State has faced many struggles throughout the 2018 campaign to this point. Under new head coach Willie Taggart, the Seminoles are off to a 4-5 start, while picking up just two wins thus far in ACC play. The Seminoles have started eight different combinations on the offensive line and nine different players have started on the line. 

The Seminoles schedule is unforgiving of any mistakes for the last five weeks of the season.  Florida State squared off with Clemson (59-10 L) two weeks ago, and will face No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 17 Boston College, and No. 19 Florida for the final three weeks of the season.

Quarterback Deondre Francois leads the Seminoles offensively. Francois posted the eighth 300-yard passing game of his career against Wake Forest. Francois is currently second in the ACC in passing yardage (2,039) and in yards per game (254.9). Nyqwan “Noonie” Murray has been Francois’ favorite target this season, hauling in a team-leading 42 receptions for 571 yards.  Murray also led the Seminoles with 604 receiving yards last season. 

The Seminoles love to use freshman Tamorrion Terry as a deep threat to score. Terry is averaging 21.96 yards per catch, fourth best in the country and is tied for first in the ACC with seven touchdown receptions.