No. 9 Notre Dame travels to Florida State for a prime-time Sunday night showdown at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, and it will be televised on ABC.
The Irish are looking to build on last year’s run to the College Football Playoff semifinals. Notre Dame is 33-5 the last three seasons under Brian Kelly, and Wisconsin transfer quarterback Jack Coan will be the focus in the opener. The Irish have a strong supporting cast that features SN first-team All-American all-purpose back Kyren Williams.
Florida State will be playing in front of an emotional crowd that will honor legendary coach Bobby Bowden, who died Aug. 8. Mike Norvell begins his second season looking to lead a turnaround, and the Seminoles likely will split snaps between quarterbacks Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton, a UCF transfer who hasn’t played since 2018.
Will the Seminoles make it interesting?
Here’s everything to know about the Notre Dame-Florida State matchup:
Odds courtesy FanDuel.com
Notre Dame-Florida State odds
- Spread: Notre Dame -6.5
- Over/under: 55.5
- Moneyline: Notre Dame -280, Florida State +220
Three trends to know
— Notre Dame has won the last two meetings against Florida State by an average of 22.5 points per game. The Irish beat FSU 42-26 last season and 42-13 in 2018. Both games were in South Bend, Ind.
— The Seminoles are 12-7 S/U at home the last three seasons, and that includes a 2-3 ATS record as a home underdog.
— Notre Dame is 1-1 at Florida State, and the last meeting was the 31-27 thriller in 2014. The Irish are 15-16-1 ATS as a road favorite under Kelly since 2010.
Three things to watch
— Jack Coan and McKenzie Milton. Two transfer quarterbacks could take the spotlight here.
Coan, a Wisconsin transfer, took command of the starting job at Notre Dame in the spring. Coan completed 68 percent of his passes at Wisconsin with 23 TDs and eight interceptions but missed all of 2020 due to injury. He is an efficient quarterback, and Notre Dame has enough weapons around him in the receiving game that he should be comfortable. Williams is a great start in the backfield, and Coan will target tight end Michael Mayer in the red zone.
Milton, meanwhile, should at least see playing time if he doesn’t start. It’s one of the feel-good stories of the season knowing his career was in jeopardy after a gruesome leg injury in the 2018 regular-season finale with UCF. Milton scored 92 total TDs in three seasons with the Knights and was one of the most-dynamic playmakers at quarterback in the FBS. It’s been a long layoff, but it will be interesting to see how much Milton runs.
— FSU’s run game. Milton could see time, but Norvell also knows Travis was the Seminoles’ leading rusher last season. FSU averaged 199.2 rushing yards per game, and Jashaun Corbin averaged 5.0 yards per carry. The Seminoles can control tempo in this game with a strong running game, and both quarterbacks should be involved.
— Kyle Hamilton in prime time. Hamilton is arguably the top defensive back in the FBS, and he led the Irish with 63 tackles and six pass breakups in 2020. Hamilton is being billed as a potential top-10 pick; a rarity for a safety. FSU quarterbacks threw 10 TDs and 13 interceptions last season, and this could be a chance for Hamilton to make some highlight-reel plays. He had a season-high eight tackles in last year’s game.
Stat that matters
Florida State allowed 12.2 yards per catch in 2020. Notre Dame has an experienced group of receivers that includes Avery Davis, Braden Lenzy and Kevin Austin Jr. Davis averaged 13.4 yards per catch last season, and Austin could emerge as the deep-threat receiver early in the season. How many deep shots will Coan take against that Florida State secondary? It might be better to work the intermediate passing game instead. That is where Notre Dame will have success.
Notre Dame-Florida State prediction
This will be an emotional game for the Seminoles as they dedicate their season to legendary coach Bobby Bowden. Milton and Travis will offer a spark in the running game, too. Notre Dame, however, will control the trenches on both sides, and that will be the difference as the game moves into the second half. Coan will settle in with a pair of TD passes, and Williams clears 100 yards on the ground.
The Seminoles lose their opener for the fifth straight season.
Final score: Notre Dame 35, Florida State 20