For Florida State, hosting the Fighting Irish might the final difficult hurdle to jump over en route to another undefeated season and making the College Football playoffs. Notre Dame aren’t just arriving to play spoilers, but with realistic intentions and plans of not just coming away with victory, but finding themselves among the best four teams in the nation when it’s time to choose.
Despite not losing a game since 2012 and starting this season with six consecutive wins, Florida State lost their number one spot in the AP Poll last week after a 38-20 win over Syracuse. It is understandable. They’ve beaten two teams that are currently ranked but didn’t look very impressive doing so in both victories against Oklahoma State and Clemson. Compare that with the job Mississippi State have been doing for the last three weeks, and it makes sense for the Seminoles to get bumped down.
One of the most remarkable things about Florida State right now is Jameis Winston. Controversy keeps coming from him and at him but it doesn’t seem to have any way of affecting him on the field. He had a nearly perfect game in the win over Syracuse, and has been looking better and better after a less than stellar start. He might not be discussed much when it comes to the Heisman trophy, but a few more performances like the one against the Orange will put him back in the front line of potential award recipients.
Someone who has been mentioned more than once has been Everett Golson, coming back from a year of suspension better and more difficult to slow down. Just like Winston, Golson has never lost a regular season game in College Football. His only loss as a starter comes in the BCS Championship game Notre Dame were routed in by Alabama. A lot of things have changed on the team and in College Football in general since then.
And while both of them have been very successful this year, it hasn’t been a picture of perfection. One of the things that made Winston special last year was his ability to make throws and plays while under duress. But this season it’s not going so well. His completion ratio has dropped to 36.8% from 60.4%; he’s averaging only 3.3 yards per attempt compared to 9.8; he hasn’t thrown any touchdowns while being intercepted twice; and he has yet to complete a pass for over 20 yards when under pressure.
Golson started out through the first four games playing at the highest level possible for a college quarterback in the year 2014. Through the first four wins against Rice, Michigan, Purdue and Syracuse, he didn’t throw a single interceptions, completed over 70% of his passes and averaged 9.2 yards per attempts. In two wins over Stanford and North Carolina (a 50-43 shootout), Golson has thrown four touchdown passes and two interceptions, averaged 7.1 yards per attempts and completed only 51.5% of his passes.
Another thing different in this Florida State team compared to last season has been the defense From ranking first in points allowed, second in yards per play, first in points per drive and first in defensive efficiency, the Semionles are only 30th in the nation in points allowed, 44th in yards per play, 48th in points per drive and 51st in defensive efficiency. For Notre Dame, except for their narrow win over North Carolina, there hasn’t been a game in which they’ve given up more than 17 points.
A top 5 head to head clash always has great repercussions. It’s hard seeing Florida State slipping anywhere after this game, which happens at home. Maybe Louisville on the road, and who knows what’s going on in the ACC Championship game. Notre Dame still have Arizona State on the road, and also USC. It’s a bit more difficult in comparison to the Seminoles. But a win at Doak Campbell will make everything else seem rather easy.