By Ian Palmer
Notre Dame Fighting Irish pay a visit to the Florida State Seminoles in NCAA football action this Saturday, October 18. Both teams are undefeated so far this season which makes this showdown at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida one of the must-see games of the year. The 6-0 Notre Dame managed to beat the North Carolina Tar Heels 50-43 last week while the defending ACC champion Florida Seminoles and Heisman Trophy holder Jameis Winston also went 6-0 with a 38-20 win over the Syracuse Orange.
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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish struggled somewhat at home against North Carolina last week as they took their opponents too lightly and were looking ahead to their showdown against the top-ranked Seminoles. Notre Dame is now 4-2 ATS this campaign. Quarterback Everett Golson passed for three touchdowns and gained 371 total yards, but his passing percentage was just 55. He also threw for an interception and fumbled the ball twice. He’s been picked off at least once in his last three outings.
But even though Golson struggled, the area of concern was the team’s defensive play. In their first five games they held the opposition to 316 yards and just over 12 points per game. However, against the Tar Heels they were touched up for 510 yards and 43 points. Cornerback KeiVarae Russell has been suspended for the 2014 season due to a student-record problem and his absence will hurt against Florida State. North Carolina QB Marquise Williams passed for more than 300 yards against the Fighting Irish and now they have to contend with Jameis Winston this weekend.
Golson has had a good season with Notre Dame this year after returning from suspension and he’ll need to out-duel Winston if the Fighting Irish are to remain unbeaten on Saturday. Golson’s best road outing this year was in Syracuse where he tossed for four touchdowns, competed 82 per cent of his passes and gained 362 yards. Notre Dame lost three of their four games on the road last season without Golson in the lineup.
Florida State QB Jameis Winston had a fine game against Syracuse last week with an 83 per cent pass completion along with three touchdowns and 317 yards. He’s having off-field problems as he’s is scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing concerning a past indiscretion. He should be in the lineup against Notre Dame though and so far he hasn’t let anything distract him on the field. The Seminoles have gone 19-0 with Winston, so we know exactly how important he is to the team.
Wide receiver Rashard Greene gained 107 yards on six receptions against Syracuse and he’s now the school’s all-time leading receiver. Freshman Dalvin Cook was responsible for 122 of the Seminoles’ 165 yards on the ground last week. Florida State is hoping the offense can pick up the pace since it’s scoring just 38.8 points a game compared to more than 50 a contest last season.
The defense has also slipped. The Seminoles had the best mark in the nation last year with just 12.1 points against per game and this year they’re giving up about 21 points each outing. They were roughed up for 359 passing yards and 41 points alone at North Carolina State last month. The Seminoles need to keep Golson in check with endless pressure, but it’ll be tough since their defense isn’t the greatest at the pass rush.