Florida State is just three days from kicking off its season against Notre Dame inside Doak Campbell Stadium on Sunday night. There's no understating it, this is a huge opportunity for the Seminoles to prove that they are starting to climb back amongst the elite of college football.
It won't be easy with an experienced and talented Fighting Irish team coming into Tallahassee. That said, ND had to replace four starters on the offensive line and multiple starters on defense. This will also be quarterback Jack Coan's first game with the program after grad-transferring from Wisconsin. They aren't unbeatable but it's going to take a heck of an effort from FSU.
The offense returns plenty of experience from 2020 and is primed to take a step forward in head coach Mike Norvell's second season with the 'Noles. It'll be the other side of the ball to keep your eye on as the defense was gashed by Notre Dame's rushing attack last year to the tune of 353 yards on the ground. Florida State will need its revamped defensive line and young linebackers to step up for any chance of limiting running back Kyren Williams.
Our staff provides their predictions and analysis for Florida State vs Notre Dame below.
Dustin Lewis (@Dussttin)
We've heard plenty of positives things about Florida State's improvement throughout the offseason and have seen glimpses in the spring and fall. The defense, particularly the pass-rush, is expected to be more productive after bringing in multiple transfers coupled with growing young talent. A ton of experience returns on offense as well and Jordan Travis has made strides as a passer. Will it be enough? I'm not sure.
There have been multiple times over the past five years where we thought the Seminoles were ready to take the next step and it still hasn't happened. I'm tired of hearing it, we need to see it to believe it. I just feel like FSU is still a year away from beating a Notre Dame team that has a lot of depth. Regardless, this team won't lay down as it has in previous seasons.
Notre Dame 34, FSU 27
Logan Robinson (@LogansTwitty)
Florida State vs. Notre Dame. It just feels right to kick off the season with this one. The Irish finally coming back into town after seven years and Doak Campbell Stadium will be riled up with a feisty crowd.
This game is going to come down to two players in my opinion, Jordan Travis and Jermaine Johnson. Travis, as we’ve heard, has been improving as a passer and has had some impressive strides. He’s gotten more comfortable in the pocket which is one thing that hurt him last season. He’s going to have to hit his throws to expand this offense on Sunday night.
For Johnson, it’s simple. Get to Notre Dame’s QB Jack Coan and get to him early. You can’t let Coan get into a rhythm and start making things easy for him. Johnson must disrupt his passing but also needs to make plays as a defender in the run game. That is something Johnson said before fall camp he was working on a ton. Get better and contain against Notre Dame’s running game.
This game is going to be fun. It’s going to be nice to be back in the stands, under the lights, in a rollercoaster of emotions during pregame and when toe hits the leather. I am optimistic this game will stay close heading into the fourth but I do see Notre Dame running away with it in the end.
Notre Dame 34, FSU 21
Nate Greer (@NateGreer36)
I know there are a lot of National media that think Notre Dame runs right through FSU. There are legitimate reasons why based on the past several years but Notre Dame lost over 15 starters from last year's team. They replace 4 offensive line starters, their quarterback, and have new players at wide receiver. Defensively, there is a new defensive coordinator entering game one with new defensive ends, and a linebacker corps that lost a starter in camp. Drew White and Kyle Hamilton are players on that defense, though.
FSU has a lot to prove, but this is a very winnable game. I expect a very competitive game, and I would predict FSU to win if I had more confidence and knew exactly what to expect. I’m going with a close Notre Dame win but I wouldn’t be shocked if FSU stunned the Irish.
Notre Dame 27, FSU 24
Austin Veazey (@NolesVikesVeaz)
While there are a lot of circumstances surrounding FSU that could lean in its favor, like an electric environment, ND having a new defensive coordinator, and a true freshman left tackle having to face Jermaine Johnson every snap. Notre Dame still has the talent advantage. And while I like the direction this team is headed, until FSU shows me something credible, I’m not going to predict them to win a game of this magnitude yet.
I’ll take Notre Dame in a tight, closely contested affair
Notre Dame 30 FSU 24
Charleston Bowles (@Cbowles01)
Florida State sticks with the Irish throughout the first half, but fails to find its stride out of halftime and falls behind as the game wears on. The offensive line is a pleasant surprise, but the defense reverts to their same issues from a season ago, which ultimately costs the ‘Noles a chance at the Week 1 upset.
Notre Dame 30, FSU 24
Mikey Clark (@Mikeyclark01)
Although some have FSU upsetting ND week 1, I do not. I believe FSU will play a competitive game for four quarters and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them leading at some point during the game, including scoring on multiple splash plays.
Ultimately, I think ND’s O-Line mixed with its run game will be too much for Mike Norvell and FSU. Regardless of the loss, I believe this is a step in the right direction for Florida State.
Notre Dame 41, FSU 30
Noah Jahn (@NoahJahn05)
Chances like September 5th don't come often for a rebuilding Florida State team. The 'Noles will have to come out early ready for a dogfight. If they can keep their focus and the ball bounces their way, we could be seeing a home-dog upset on Sunday night.
Maybe this is the Florida State fan in me speaking, but I see it ending with a Seminole win.
Florida State 34, Notre Dame 27
John Jenkins (@_jmj4_)
My heart says FSU but my mind is saying the Irish. I expect it to be a good competitive game with the Irish closing the deal late in the 4th.
Notre Dame 21, FSU 17
Jacob Stevens (@Jacob_Stevens26)
I think FSU is gonna be fired up from the start, they're gonna pull off the upset for Bobby going 27-24 FSU.
FSU 27, Notre Dame 24CONSENSUS: Notre Dame (7-2)