Notre Dame vs. Florida State Odds, Pick & Prediction: Betting Preview for Sunday College Football Game
Don Juan Moore/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Travis.
- Florida State and Notre Dame open their 2021 college football seasons on Sunday evening.
- The Fighting Irish reached the Rose Bowl last season, while the Seminoles were just 3-6.
- See how Collin Wilson is betting tonight's matchup and who he thinks could be the most dynamic player on offense.
Notre Dame vs. Florida State Odds
One of college football's classic rivalries gets standalone attention on the first Sunday of the season.
Notre Dame's one-year trial run as a member of the ACC provided plenty of highlights. The Fighting Irish defeated Clemson during the regular season, with the Tigers getting revenge in the conference championship. Despite the loss, Brian Kelly went to his second College Football Playoff.
The pandemic season was also an event for Mike Norvell, taking over the duties as head coach for Florida State after a successful stint at Memphis. With no spring football and meetings done over Zoom, Norvell had plenty of COVID-19 issues during 2020.
There are higher expectations for the Seminoles this season, as this is a revenge game for them after a 42-26 loss last October.
There have been numerous changes to the Notre Dame roster and coaching staff since a Rose Bowl loss to Alabama.
Quarterback Ian Book had his college service clock expire. On defense, coordinator Clark Lea moved to Vanderbilt as head coach, paving the way for one of the best recruiters in the nation in Marcus Freeman.
The offense will enter a second season under Tommy Rees. The result after one year was an increase in rush rate behind one of the best offensive lines in college football.
The Book era is over at quarterback, as Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan will hold the position until a pair of talented freshmen are ready for starting duties.
Fighting Irish Offense
Notre Dame returns just 44% of offense, per TARP, one of the lowest marks in the nation.
Rees ran an offense that split snaps between 11 and 12 formations with 10% of snaps having three tight ends on the field. Michael Mayer returns to the tight end position with a team-leading 42 catches from 2020.
Yesterday, Michael Mayer showed why he was ranked as a five-star TE coming out of high school.
Mini Gronk did amazing in his first career game with the Irish.
— Notre Dame Recruiting (@NDrecruiting01) September 13, 2020
Aside from running back Kyren Williams, there are not many explosive playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
Kelly's post-camp press conference indicated that Coan needs quicker footwork, while the offensive line searches for a solid rotation.
The offensive play-calling plans to be conservative, as Avery Davis' 24 receptions leads the current stable of receivers.
Both Lorenzo Styles and Deion Colzie have been mentioned by Kelly as targets who will lift the receiving unit.
Notre Dame will only go as far as Coan can take it early in the season after recording 14 turnover-worthy plays for Wisconsin in 2019.
Fighting Irish Defense
There is no denying the results on and off the field for the new coordinator. Freeman ranks as the second-best recruiter in the nation, per 247sports.
On the field, Cincinnati fielded one of the best defenses in college football. The Bearcats ranked best in the nation in Passing Success Rate and Finishing Drives.
Freeman runs a 3-3-5 scheme heavy on the blitz, different from the 4-2-5 package previously installed for the Irish. To make this scheme work, excellent play is needed at the nose position, with Kurt Hinish bringing plenty of experience.
ND DT Kurt Hinish does not have great size, but OL find out it's not easy to move him with a double due to his strength and consistently-low pad level. He's can 1-gap and enter the backfield when given the chance, possesses agility to track down from the back side. #SnapScout22pic.twitter.com/SE1nB7mYYK
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) July 11, 2021
Free safety Kyle Hamilton and linebacker Drew White have the two highest tackle counts, returning to a defense that brings back 50%, per TARP.
Although Notre Dame is going through a small scheme change in the front seven, the real adjustment is the number of blitz calls in comparison to a Lea defense. If Notre Dame is to have success getting in Florida State's backfield, confusing a retooled offensive line is the top priority.
Florida State will honor the late Bobby Bowden the entire season. Emotions will be high in Doak Campbell Stadium for Year 2 of the Norvell era.
The transfer portal remained hot throughout the first half of 2021, as the second-year coach searched for the right combination of starters and additional depth.
The Seminoles have played it close to the vest in terms of naming a starting quarterback while looking for stability on the offensive line.
The offense will have two different schemes depending on who is under center.
Jordan Travis is one of the more elusive quarterbacks in designed runs, generating 22 missed tackles in 61 attempts last season. An average of 4.9 yards after contact highlights one of the best weapons on the Florida State offense.
Jordan Travis takes it in for the 7-0 FSU lead.
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) October 18, 2020
The inclusion of Travis was a big part of improved rankings to the top 20 in Rushing Success Rate and Line Yards.
Pushing Jordan for the starting spot is transfer McKenzie Milton, who has not taken a snap since 2018. Norvell saw Milton on the field plenty during his time in the AAC, but with a right knee injury sidelining the quarterback, the mobility will be a contrast from Jordan.
The running back stable returns experience with Jashaun Corbin and Lawrance Toafili.
Wide receiver Ontaria Wilson and tight end Camren McDonald return 77 targets from 2020, but the remaining unit is unproven and inexperienced.
The story over the past few years has been the rebuild of the offensive line, where Notre Dame transfer Dillan Gibbons may provide plenty of intel and playing time for this game.
Florida State returns just 66% of a defense that ranked 114th in Success Rate in 2020.
In the year of the super senior, ushering in a set of new faces on the defense may be a better solution. The portal was of the utmost help to the defensive line for coordinator Adam Fuller, bringing Jermaine Johnson from Georgia and Keir Thomas from South Carolina.
— Noles247.com (@Noles247) January 21, 2021
The area Notre Dame is most likely to attack is an unproven linebacker unit. Emmett Rice returns 42 tackles but has lingering knee issues from the spring.
Fuller runs a 4-3 in standard downs and a nickel package in passing downs, but there may be plenty of player rotation against Notre Dame after inconclusive results during multiple weeks of training camp.
Notre Dame vs. Florida State Matchup Analysis
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Notre Dame Offense vs. Florida State Defense
Florida State Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
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Notre Dame vs. Florida State Betting Pick
If any offensive mind knows Freeman's defensive package, it's Norvell. The two squared off twice in the 2019 season in consecutive weeks when Memphis and Cincinnati competed for the AAC Championship.
Norvell won both of those games and expects the Seminoles offensive line to see multiple blitz packages from three and four down linemen.
While the decision lingers on a starting quarterback, it would be an interesting selection for Florida State to start Milton. The Notre Dame defensive scheme change affects the line, and a dynamic runner like Travis would be able to take advantage of mistakes.
Notre Dame is expected to attack the linebacker unit of Florida State with the use of its tight ends, asking Coan to stay in the pocket and make low-risk passing attempts.
The early money has been all over the Seminoles this summer, moving a spread in the double digits down to just Notre Dame -7 heading into the weekend. Our Action Network projection has Florida State +5 with Travis under center and closer to a touchdown with Milton.
If the Seminoles continue to take the next step on the offensive line, Travis will be the most explosive player on the field.
With a total projection at 56 and no expected changes in tempo from either team, the only bet is to support the side with the offensive player most likely to hit the end zone on any play.