Florida State Seminoles

Notre Dame Push Noles Towards Losing Season

Deondre Francois and Head Coach Willie Taggert go into a strategic planning session on the sideline again Notre Dame November 10, 2018

Notre Dame Push Noles Towards Losing Season

In August, I’m sure that most people had this game circled on their calendars as one to watch! How things have changed.
Will there be a good attendance? I’m sure there will. What about TV viewers? That answer will still be yes. After all, this is Notre Dame, it’s in their house, and it’s prime time national TV!

What’s at stake in this game?
Prior to the season most would have guessed that each team would be in quest of a high national ranking, a possible playoff berth, or at the very least a New Years Six bowl.

That didn’t materialize given FSU’s woes, but Notre Dame is driving towards that playoff goal! Can Florida State be a spoiler? Based off of how they’ve played the past few weeks, the answer should be an astounding no!

One thing to remember, heading into tonight’s game, is that the Seminoles are desperate! Sitting at 4-5 this team must win 2 of it’s last 3 to #1 be bowl eligible and keep their 36-year streak alive! #2 is to continue their consecutive non-losing season streak!

As I’ve pointed out many times in the past, FSU’s last non-winning season was in the legendary Bobby Bowden’s 1st season, 1976!
Again this will be no easy task, as besides facing the #3 Irish tonight they close the season at home against #17 (CFP) Boston College and #15 (CFP) Florida!
On the other hand, Notre Dame can’t look beyond this game.

This is the last home game of the season for the Irish, as they head to NYC next week to face #13 (CFP) Syracuse at Yankee Stadium. They then close out the regular season, in Los Angeles, to face annual rival USC in the Colosseum!
At kickoff, it is a brisk 27 degrees with a wind chill of 20. I’m curious as to how this will affect the play from the warm weather team? According to the pre-game announcement, this is the 3rd coldest game at Notre Dame stadium sine 1980.
It is senior night at Notre Dame, and they are dressed in their green jerseys. The Seminoles are in all white!

I’m not going to go into much detail, but this was not the start the Seminoles needed! On the 2nd play on offense, for the Noles, a pass off of the receiver resulted in an interception that was returned to the FSU 3. On the 2nd play, a 3-yard pass from Wimbush to Boykin and it was 7-0. FSU then goes 3 and out on their next possession and the Irish run off 14 plays for 81 yards with another Wimbush TD pass of 6 yards capping off the drive. 14-0 Irish.

FSU started their 3rd series at their own 16 and fumbled it away on the 1st play, and Notre Dame is in business at the Noles 14. The defense did hold tight and held the Irish to a 26 yard FG, but the Seminoles are now in a 17-0 hole, on the road, to the # 3 team in the nation!

Cam Akers breaks through the Notre Dame Fighting Irish line for positive yards
Cam Akers breaks through the Notre Dame Fighting Irish line for positive yards November 10, 2018. (photo W L Pearce)

With 5:53 left in the 1st Notre Dame had 75 yards to 4 by FSU. The key stat was 10 points given up off of turnovers. The Seminoles finally had a good drive and marched 75 yards in 16 plays which took 7:36 off the clock. An 8 yard TD run by Cam Akers and the score was 17-6 with the extra point try coming up. In what they hoped would be automatic, the try was blocked, and the ball was returned by Notre Dame’s Julian Love to put the Irish up 19-6.

After the ensuing kickoff, it took all of 4 plays for the Irish to answer, as a 58 yard TD run by Dexter Williams and Notre Dame led 25-6! Basically, at this point, game over.The Irish would go on to rack up 42 points, with a final score of 42-13. What is significant about this is the Seminoles, in their three consecutive losses, have given up at least 40 points in each of those games.

The last time FSU gave up more than 40 points in 3 games was in Bobby Bowden’s final season, but they went 1-2 in those games.My research took me all the way back to the 1974 season when the Noles went 1-10, and they had three games where they gave up more than 40 points. They were not consecutive. In the 1973 season, when they were 0-11, they only gave up more than 40 points twice. Those were consecutive season-ending losses to South Carolina 52-12, in Tallahassee, and the final game 49-0 at Florida.

While the rush defense has completely fallen apart the past two games, the pass defense was better in spite of very limited pressure on the QB. In this three-game losing streak, FSU has failed to record a sack!

If there was a positive, they did clean up their penalty issues. After having been assessed 32 penalties in the past two games, they only had 5 for 35 yards.
What was disappointing was that I believe the Seminole offense was in Irish territory 11 times, but only managed 13 points.

In closing, the slow start on offense led to a double-digit deficit. To salvage the season (yes it’s still a possibility, albeit a slim one) the Noles must change what they’ve been doing. It’s critical that they get off to a quick start.

Florida State has no margin for error in the next two games. At 4-6, the Seminoles must beat both No. 17 Boston College and No. 15 Florida, in Tallahassee, to reach the postseason and keep alive their 36-year bowl streak alive. Needless to say, this is a daunting task!

Of note, Notre Dame’s victory was just its third in nine tries against Florida State. The Seminoles entered the game with a .714 winning percentage against the Irish, the highest ever for an opponent to face Notre Dame at least five times.
We will find out on Saturday the 17th if the Seminoles season will still be alive when they face hated rival Florida on the 24th!

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