The #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish begin the 2021 season on the road against the Florida State Seminoles in prime-time action on ABC. The Irish pummeled the Seminoles at home last season, thumping FSU, 42-26. Florida State will try and break the streak of three consecutive losing seasons.
Sunday’s kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. EST inside Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL. Oddsmakers have the Fighting Irish as a 7-point favorite and the total point over-under at 56.
What to Know – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Irish are coming off a 10-2 season and winners of the ACC regular-season title after joining the conference for one season due to the global pandemic restricting many out-of-conference matchups. Notre Dame ended the 2020 season in the Rose Bowl, losing to eventual national champion Alabama, 31-14.
Notre Dame must replace their all-time winnest quarterback in Ian Book, but added graduate transfer Jake Coan from Wisconsin in the offseason to give the Irish a veteran signal-caller with starting experience. Coan completed 68% of his passes for 3,278 yards and 23 touchdowns in three seasons as a Badger.
One area where the Irish are set is at running back, returning three of their top four rushers from last season. Highlighting the trio of rushers is sophomore Kyren Williams, who tallied 1,125 yards and scored 13 touchdowns during his freshman season.
The top two wideouts are gone, but the Irish return sophomore tight end Michael Mayer who was second on the team in receiving as a rookie, hauling in 42 passes for 450 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Graduate Avery Davis steps into a leading role after a 2020 campaign with 24 catches, 322 yards, and two touchdowns.
What to Know – Florida State Seminoles
Head coach Mike Norvell continues to change the culture in Tallahassee, but the process isn’t going to happen overnight. A quality showing on what is sure to be an emotional day will put the Seminoles on the right track to regaining national status. Florida State will honor the legendary Bobby Bowden before the game after the two-time national champion coach passed away this summer.
Sophomore Jordan Travis is expected to be the starting quarterback for the Seminoles, but UCF transfer McKenzie Milton is waiting in the wings. Milton hasn’t taken a snap since 2018 when he suffered a horrific leg injury in the final game of the regular season.
Many of the top rushers from last season are back for FSU. Sophomore Joshua Corbin (81 carries, 401 yards, five touchdowns) and redshirt freshman Lawrence Toafili (37 carries, 356 yards, two touchdowns) return to the backfield for Garnet and Gold.
Like the backfield, many of the same faces at wide receiver and tight end return. Leading wide receiver Ontaria Wilson (30 receptions, 382 yards, two touchdowns) and tight end Camren McDonald (23 receptions, 263 yards, two touchdowns) highlight the core pass-catchers.
The Pick is In
Sunday’s showdown will be closer than last season’s matchup, but the weaknesses on the Florida State’s offensive line will limit what FSU can do of offense. Notre Dame’s rushing attack will wear down the Seminole defense, and the Irish will pull away for a comfortable victory.
Betting Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -7