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Free Pick: Notre Dame at Florida State 9/5/21
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Notre Dame at Florida State 9/5/21

This is the only game on Sunday and it could be a good one. The Fighting Irish invade Tallahassee and tangle with the rebuilding Florida State Seminoles. By all rights, Notre Dame should have an easy time of it. But, like so many other teams, they have unproven players on offense and that is usually a sign of vulnerability especially in an opening game on the road. And Tallahassee is no easy place to play for anybody. Let’s break it down and see if the Seminoles have a chance.

Quarterback: As of August 30th, Florida State had not released who their starting quarterback was going to be. Most people thought UCF transfer McKenzie Milton would get the nod but he is listed as a co-starter with Jordan Travis which leads to speculation that Milton is still hurting from the gruesome knee injury that required nine surgeries. Notre Dame is replacing Ian Book with Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan so it looks like they are more stable. Advantage: Notre Dame

Running Backs: The Irish return 1125 yard rusher Kyren Williams and he will be joined by Chris Tyree to form a good one-two punch. Florida State has Jashaun Corbin as their feature back. Advantage: Notre Dame

Receivers: Florida State has Ontaria Wilson returning and have been happy with the emergence of Keyshawn Helton. Notre Dame loves the production tight end Michael Mayer gives them and also have senior wideouts Avery Davis and Kevin Austin who need to take the next step. Advantage: Notre Dame

Offensive Line: The Irish lost 4 starters off a strong offensive line unit from a year ago and that is another big question mark heading into 2021. The Seminoles have more experience coming back but gave up 29 sacks a season ago. Advantage: Neither

Defensive Line: Florida State added Georgia transfer Jermaine Johnson and he was the defensive star of the spring. They have good players to join him at the tackle positions. Notre Dame doesn’t have any stars upfront but there is experience as three seniors are back. Advantage: Neither

Linebackers: Notre Dame has seniors Drew White (57 tackles) and Bo Bauer and they have been productive. Florida State will have the improving Amari Gainer and Emmett Rice. Advantage: Florida State

Secondary: The Irish return future first-round selection Kyle Hamilton back at safety and he needs some help from the CB’s Tariq Bracy and Houston Griffith. The Seminoles will counter with Jarvis Brownlee Jr. and Travis Jay. Advantage: Notre Dame

Coaching: Notre Dame has one of the game’s best on the sidelines in Brian Kelly. He has been in South Bend for 11 years and has amassed a 102-39 won-loss record. A lot of schools would gladly have him. Mike Norvell is in his 2nd year at Florida State and he inherited a mess. He was successful at Memphis and, in time, I think he will get the Seminoles back. Advantage: Notre Dame

Obviously, Florida State is nowhere near what they were a few years ago. But I expect them to play extremely hard and keep this game close for the better part of the game. The line has Notre Dame as a 7.5 point favorite and that one is a bit scary with all the new faces on offense. However, the QB situation looks shaky for the Seminoles.

Our Pick: Notre Dame -7.5 Caution flag is out confidence level 5.5 out of 10.

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