Florida State. Notre Dame. Just the sound of the two names arouses images of championships, amazing fan bases, legendary coaches, and unforgettable players. The two storied programs have played quite a few memorable games against one another, but perhaps the biggest is yet to come.
Saturday night, when the fifth ranked Fighting Irish travel to second ranked Florida State, there will be more than simply school pride on the line. This game will likely decide which one of these historic programs will be invited to the first ever college football playoff. There are obviously no guarantees in sports, but a signature win in this game for either team would certainly boost each team’s perspective resumé. In this modern version of college football, big time wins count more than ever.
This game will have no shortage of big time players and big time plays. The crowd atmosphere on prime time in Tallahassee is sure to be electric with an abundance of war chants from the Seminole crowd. This game appears to have the potential of an all time classic. A game that small things could decide. So here are the X Factors for the both the Noles and the Irish:
1.) Dealing with adversity – The ‘Noles have had no shortage of adversity this year surrounding their star quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston has been in the news constantly this year regarding dozens of circumstances. The ‘Noles and Winston have dealt well with it, but the Irish are potentially the biggest challenge of the year for FSU coming on a week where “Famous Jameis” has been blowing up ESPN in a negative light. It can’t be easy to focus on reading defenses when there is so many other issues in a person’s life. Winston is an electrifying talent, and the heart of the defending national champions. If they want to beat Notre Dame, they will need the Heisman winner to be on his game.
2.) Containing Everett Golson – It’s no secret that Everett Golson is a huge reason for the Notre Dame 6-0 start. The rejuvenated Irish QB has been the heart and soul of the Notre Dame offense. In fact out of the 26 offensive TD’s the Irish have scored this season he’s responsible for 20. Stopping the Irish starts with stopping Golson. The ‘Noles will have to make the dual threat quarterback one dimensional this week. Golson is getting it done through the air and on the ground, but if the ‘Noles can take away one of the other, the Irish offense will struggle mightily considering their struggle to establish a ground game consistently.
1.) Eliminating turnovers – The only reason this Notre Dame team is still under major scrutiny is their tendency to turn the ball over at bad times. The Irish offense has fumbled five times in their last three games. Golson has thrown four interceptions thus far as well. Turning the ball over is simply not an option when you’re trying to beat the second ranked team. Coach Brian Kelly has reportedly tackled this issue at practice this week by making Golson run drills like a running back protecting the ball. Coach Kelly’s drills will have to pay off for an Irish victory.
2.) Establishing the run – Notre Dame has been below average in a run game that does not include an Everett Golson scramble. The Irish have only scored six rushing touchdowns with their collection of backs. Beating a good defensive team like Florida State requires diversity in the attack. Golson will need his backs to establish a presence to open up the passing game for the talented wide receiver core of the Irish.
Cover Photo: Getty Images
Latest posts by Blaise Weber (see all)
- J.J. Natt: The Case Against J.J. Watt’s MVP Campaign - November 4, 2014
- Heisman: The Case for Everett Golson - October 20, 2014
- X Factors: Florida State vs. Notre Dame - October 17, 2014