Bill Pearce/Florida State athletics

Curb those expectations, folks.

Florida State football is coming off its first win under first-year head coach Mike Norvell over Jacksonville State. The team finally found some offense with quarterback Jordan Travis at the helm, scoring multiple touchdowns for the first time this season.

Unfortunately for the Seminoles, the upcoming contest is a tough match-up in South Bend.

Florida State at (5) Notre Dame

  • Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, IN
  • Saturday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Notre Dame -20.5, O/U 52
  • Last Game:
    • FSU: W, 41-24, Jacksonville St
    • Notre Dame: W, 52-0, South Florida

WHEN FSU’S ON OFFENSE

The Noles seem to have found their starting quarterback for the time being. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Travis has earned the start after leading FSU’s previously-inept offense to a 41-24 victory over Jacksonville State.

The Seminoles come into this game with the 57th-ranked offense, per ESPN’s SP+ rankings. The offense jumped 21 spots from last week. This leap is partly due to its success playing inferior talent, but also due to Travis’ ability to move the ball.

The sophomore signal caller dashed the notion that he was unable to throw the ball on Saturday. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown. The most impressive passing stat was his success on passes greater than 10 yards. Travis went 4-for-6 on passes downfield for 140 yards and a touchdown.

With Travis under center, the running game was finally able to get going as well. FSU’s offense scored its first rushing touchdown on the season, then proceeded to score four more.

Notre Dame’s defense is nothing to sneeze at, however. The Fighting Irish currently have the fifth-ranked defense in the country.

Led by linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, the Irish defense is incredibly aggressive on both passing and running downs. The result so far is a defense that is allowing only 192 yards passing and 90.5 yards rushing per game.

Look for this defensive unit to continue to play aggressive and force Travis to beat them through the air.

WHEN FSU’S ON DEFENSE

The Seminole defense has actually climbed six spots to 44th, per ESPN’s SP+ rankings. Although starting slow, they were able to find footing against Jacksonville State’s offensive line. The Gamecocks were held to 2.9 yards per carry on the ground, and the Noles were able to force several 3-and-outs.

Although thought to be its strength this year, the FSU defensive line has been its Achilles’ heel. The line has not been able to get pressure consistently, and has been mostly bullied thus far.

The match-up against Notre Dame’s 12th-ranked offense doesn’t look good for the Noles. The Fighting Irish offensive line has the seventh-best pass-blocking grade and the best run-blocking grade in the nation. Quarterback Ian Book will have plenty of time to throw as a result, but so far this season, he hasn’t been great even when not under pressure.

The third-year starter has a below-average passing score of 58.5 this year, per Pro Football Focus. Only 11 of his 50 attempts have been under pressure. The Irish will likely lean on their run game in this contest.

Notre Dame’s running backs have been successful behind their stout line this season. The team averaging 229.5 yards and four rushing touchdowns per game, with an impressive five yards per carry. Meanwhile, the Noles are allowing 4.3 yards per carry to opponents, giving up 141.3 yards and 2.3 touchdowns on the ground per game.

Notre Dame’s offensive strengths play into FSU’s defensive weaknesses, so it’s safe to say this game will not be won by the defense.

OTHER FACTORS

Last week, Notre Dame’s game against Wake Forest was canceled due to 25 Notre Dame players testing positive for COVID-19. 39 total players were required to quarantine, and all team activities were suspended for a full week. Most of the roster is expected to be ready to go against Florida State, with the exception of defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and linebacker Jack Kiser.

Florida State could finally see the season debut of star safety Hamsah Nasirildeen. Norvell said Nasirildeen was making good progress in his rehabilitation, but he will likely be a game-time decision.

Defensive tackle Robert Cooper and defensive back Travis Jay are making good progress on their injuries as well. Norvell said there is a good chance they see the field soon.

PREDICTIONS

John: FSU, 21-17. Remember that Duke took Notre Dame to the distance. The Irish have played a very weak schedule so far, in addition to being out for so long. Jordan Travis is the difference with his legs and efficient with the long ball.

Cory: Leprechauns, 59-13. It won’t matter who’s at quarterback this week – Notre Dame is going to aim to take away Travis’ legs and force him to make accurate throws downfield. When he can’t do that, Notre Dame’s top-15 offense will take advantage of a defense that’s overpromised and underdelivered.

James: Notre Dame, 42-17. This isn’t Jacksonville State. Travis hits some throws, but he can’t play defense too.

Mike: Notre Dame, 41-20. Beating Jacksonville State gave FSU something to feel good about this week, but Saturday night will serve as a “Come to Touchdown Jesus” meeting for the Seminoles. They’ll be more competitive than against Miami, but don’t expect this one to be close.

Jake: Notre Dame, 47-28. Notre Dame has a great defense, but it has faced the 117th-ranked and 120th-ranked offenses in Duke and South Florida, respectively. FSU will be the best one it has faced so far, and with Travis at the helm, FSU can actually score. The FSU defense is still atrocious, and it won’t have figured it out this week. The Irish will dominate on the ground and through the air.