Florida State vs. Notre Dame Predictions: Are the Seminoles Primed for an Upset?

No. 9 Notre Dame descend on Florida State as the heavy road faves for Week 1 of the college football season. Do the books have it right? Or are the Fighting Irish overrated? Find out as we weigh in on this matchup and serve up free betting picks.
Nikki Adams
Fri, September 3, 1:52 PM EDT

Florida State vs. Notre Dame Game Information

Date: Sunday, September 5

Game Time: 7:30 PM ET

Venue: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

Network: ABC

Florida State vs. Notre Dame Preview

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off a 10-2-0 season, which culminated with a CFP semi-final appearance (a loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide). The Fighting Irish showed fine form from the start and reeled off 10 straight wins to stay undefeated until December. It was their best start to a campaign in recent memory. However, it didn’t reach a happy conclusion, falling short at the final hurdles. Notre Dame lost 34-10 to Clemson in the final game of the season. Then 31-14 to Alabama in CFP semi-final action.

The Fighting Irish will be keen to build on their 2020 campaign, but with nine players selected in the NFL draft this season and a few more having departed as undrafted signings, head coach Brian Kelly will have work to do to find replacements. For that reason, there’s a feeling that the Fighting Irish might take a step back in 2021 even though the game plans, concepts, and schemes are going to stay the same under Kelly’s coaching staff.

Wisconsin Badgers transfer Jack Coan is set to take over from Ian Book at quarterback this season. Coan, who was injured in 2020, lost his starting position in Wisconsin to Graham Mertz. The hope for Coan is that Notre Dame provides a bounce-back year. Tight end Michael Mayer is a player to watch, while wideout Avery Davis is expected to lead the receiving corps along with Lawrence Keys and Braden Lenzy.

The offensive front needs to replace Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey at tackle and Aaron Banks and Tommy Kraemer at guard.

Returning back Kyren Williams had a monster season, galloping for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns. No.2 running back Chris Tyree, who went for 496 yards and 4 touchdowns, will likely get more work this season after dual-threat quarterback Ian Book’s departure (drafted by the New Orleans Saints).

The Florida State Seminoles are coming off a rough 2020 campaign under Mike Norvell in his first year. They went 3-6-0 overall and 2-6-0 in ACC play, finishing in the conference basement. All but one loss on the season saw the Seminoles get torched pretty badly with double-digit defeats, and only the Duke Blue Devils and Syracuse Orange had a worse season than the Seminoles did.

The Seminoles will look to bounce back in Norvell’s second year, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. Florida State will have a quarterback battle between sophomore Jordan Travis and graduate transfer McKenzie Milton. Milton is coming off a horrific leg injury and his fitness is a question mark. Travis is a multi-dimensional quarterback who led the team in rushing last season, but his passing game is a work in progress. Other players to watch on offense include tight end Camren McDonald and receiver Keyshawn Helton.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Seminoles will need to go back to the drawing board after finishing near the bottom of the standings. In a word, the defense was dreadful. They were second-to-last in total defense and last in sacks while allowed a staggering 36 points per game -- the secondary and pass rush left much to be desired.

Florida State vs. Notre Dame Odds & Betting

The Florida State vs. Notre Dame odds are conspicuously lopsided on the NCAAF odds board. As per DraftKings Sportsbook, the visiting Fighting Irish are currently laying a whopping 7.5 points to the Seminoles with the total sitting on 55 points. While this is a hefty point spread, it was even larger at open doors with several sportsbooks opening the game on an 11-point spread. The big line movement was prompted by several factors, including continued questions regarding the quarterback position in Florida. Should those continue, don’t be surprised if this line is on the move again before kick-off on Sunday.

Key Injuries

Notre Dame: WR Kevin Austin Jr. (foot) is probable; LB Marist Liufau (lower body) is out for the season.

Florida State: No injuries have been reported for Florida State.

Florida State vs. Notre Dame Prediction

Given this is only the first game of the season, betting Notre Dame vs. Florida State might be tricky. Question marks hang over both teams for different reasons, and that likely has seen the NCAAF line bet go down from 11 to 7.5 points recently, as the public is split almost evenly between Notre Dame and Florida State.

Notre Dame suffered a big blow this week with LB Marist Liufau succumbing to injury. As well, there’s no getting around the fact that Coan is starting his first game for the Fighting Irish. Growing pains are likely, and that takes the shine off of Notre Dame's odds. That said, they do have the edge in the betting market.

On the flip side, the Seminoles' starting quarterback remains a mystery. Norvell has only gone so far as the say that Travis and Milton are co-starters. Whatever that means. Should this uncertainty persist, the line could be on the move again.

Given the big line move already, bettors might want to wait and see how the line moves as kickoff nears. Ideally, moving off 7.5 to 7 or 6.5 at the very least would be more appealing, especially when backing Notre Dame to win and cover. However, given the Seminoles were a mess last season in all three facets of the game, and all signs point to more growing pains in 2021, the Fighting Irish might just steamroll the Seminoles and cover the 7.5-point spread anyway.

The Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -7.5 (-110)

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