Notre Dame Should Easily Handle Florida St. in Blue Blood Battle

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Notre Dame will open the 2021 season by making a visit to every American’s favorite state- Florida! (I’m sure you picked up on the sarcasm there). The road back, potentially, to another College Football Playoff berth begins with a visit to Doak Campbell Stadium, where they’ll face the Florida State Seminoles.

It’s a match-up of college football program royalty, program wise, as these two schools are both among the bluest of the blue bloods. Florida State, as you know, has fallen way down from their perch lately, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly, as this Noles roster is loaded with talent.

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Kickoff is Sunday night at 7:30 EST, in a contest that will be televised on ABC. Notre Dame is the main favorite by 7.5 points according to Sports Betting Dime, with the Fighting Irish available on the money line at -105. The over/under is 55.5. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly begins the season just three victories shy of Knute Rockne for the all-time coaching wins record in ND history. He is 2-2 in his career against the Seminoles.

Florida State leads the all-time series 6-4, but they lost handily to the Irish (in the series’ only conference game) 42-26 last October. The last meeting before that one also ended in a Fighting Irish victory, as ND dominated the visitors on senior night in November of 2018. FSU Coach Mike Norvell begins his second season with much more calmness and less drama than last year, but coming off a 3-6 season, he has a whole lot to improve upon.

For Norvell, it’s all about trying to clean up the mess that his predecessor Willie Taggart left behind in this once glorious program. The Seminoles may get a lift though here as it’s the first game since the passing of program patriarch Bobby Bowden. While his passing away was still foreseen for some time, it was emotional day for Seminoles everywhere, and this will be the first game since he crossed over to the other side.

A Bowden statue adorns the gate of the stadium, and no doubt the concept of winning for Bowden should give this side a major emotional lift. Will it be enough? Well that all depends on if the Seminole defensive front can get to new Irish QB1 and Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan. He’s seasoned, and talented, but if they can get to him, and somehow get him rattled in a very hot, very loud and emotional atmosphere, perhaps he might make some mistakes.

That’s really the only way I can see FSU pulling off the upset here- somehow forcing the Irish into beating themselves, by making mistakes and committing turnovers.

Prediction: Notre 31, Florida State 24

Yes, the same score as the famed 1993 “Game of the Century,” but with the roles reversed. This contest will be nothing like that, but I expect it to be more tightly contested than some might believe it will.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune.

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