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Notre Dame, which is the single most overrated entity in the sport, is just 2-6 against the spread in their last eight bowl games and is perpetually overrated by the general Irish-loving public. With a loss in this game the Irish will likely finish the season unranked for the fifth straight year. Florida State isn’t far behind. Each year the bobblehead media fawn over the Seminoles and predict a return to the glory years of the early 90s. FSU never delivers. They have just two 10-win seasons in the last decade and haven’t been a real national player in longer than that. FSU has only finished in the Top 20 one time in the last five years.
Now these two teams will clash in Florida in a game that looks better on the marquee than I’m sure it will be between the lines.
Florida State is a team that started the year in the Top 10 and some people pegged as a dark horse National Championship contender. But a three-game losing streak, started by a tough 23-13 home loss to Oklahoma in mid-September, really submarined FSU’s season. That said, the Seminoles have won six of seven entering this game, with the lone loss coming by just one point to Virginia. Quarterback E.J. Manuel has been banged up for most of this season but he is healthy and ready to lead an offense that averaged 31.7 points per game.
Notre Dame rebounded from an 0-2 start to the year to win eight of 10 games. Their only losses have been closer-than-the-final-looks losses to USC and Stanford and the Irish have both an offense (No. 34) and defense (No. 34) ranked in the Top 35 in the country. Coach Brian Kelly has been under heavy scrutiny all season long for his handling of one of college football’s sacred cow programs. However, he is an excellent tactician and will be looking to take advantage of extra prep time leading up to this game. Kelly and his Irish, as always, will enter this game with something to prove.
It is never a bad idea to play against Notre Dame. This team has been a flop in games like this against more athletic, more talented teams. They struggled with South Florida and Michigan’s speed early in the season and I haven’t seen anything out of this group to make me think they can play at a high level. But it is also tough to trust Florida State. They lost at the same Wake Forest team that Notre Dame beat and the Irish also won a very similar matchup last year when they took down Miami in the Sun Bowl as a two-point favorite. I think that both offenses will benefit from the extra preparation time and I don’t think that either defense is anything special. I have FLorida State winning this game by a little less than a touchdown and laying the field goal or playing the money line kind of makes sense. It may also be a higher scoring game than most think. For now a small play on the Seminoles with more to come.