One of the most intriguing bowl matchups this week features the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4) traveling to Orlando, FL to take on the 25th ranked Florida State Seminoles (8-4) of the ACC this Thursday afternoon (5:30pm ET) in the Champs Sports Bowl. Notre Dame dropped their regular season finale at Stanford by a score of 28-14, losing as a 7 point underdog on the road. FSU won their finale on November 26 over in-state rival Florida by a score of 21-7 on the road to cover the 3 point line. Notre Dame is 5-7 ATS this season while FSU is 6-6 ATS this year.
The Fighting Irish offense ranks 44th in the nation in scoring with an average of 30.5 points per contest, and 35th in total offense with 424.1 yards per game on average. The defense for ND ranks 28th in scoring with 20.9 PPG allowed on the campaign and 34th in the country in total defense with an average of 348.8 YPG allowed. Florida State averages 31.7 PPG on offense to rank 35th in the nation in scoring, while ranking only 74th in total offense with an average of 375.8 YPG. The Seminole defense is one of the stingiest in the nation, ranking 4th in scoring defense with 15.2 PPG allowed on average and 6th in total defense with 275.6 YPG allowed.
Notre Dame vs. Florida State Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +3.5
@Florida State Seminoles -3.5
Over 46 (-110)
Under 46 (-110)
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Notre Dame vs. Florida State Pick:
Notre Dame is 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games as an underdog and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 bowl games. FSU is 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 bowl games and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games. The under is 11-3 in Notre Dame’s last 14 games against the ACC, and 11-5-1 in their last 17 games overall. The under is 5-0 in FSU’s last 5 games overall and 16-5 in their last 21 games as a favorite. The two teams have no recent meetings, and last met in 2003 when FSU won 37-0 in South Bend.
The trends for both teams strongly favor the under, and both teams struggled on offense at the end of the season. Notre Dame, despite all of the hype about Head Coach Brian Kelly’s offensive scheme and talented skill position players such as wide receiver Michael Floyd (1,106 yards receiving, 8 TD receptions) and running back Cierre Wood (1,042 rushing yards, 9 TDs), is a team that was carried by its defense for most of the season as QB Tommy Rees struggled with turnovers at inopportune times. The ND offense struggled mightily in the red zone all season, and playing against a top ten defense for the Seminoles does not figure to help their cause. The ND defense can certainly stop an FSU running game that was virtually non-existent (99th in the country) all season long with All- American linebacker Manti T’eo. Mobile FSU QB EJ Manuel (2,417 passing yards, 16 TDs) could cause the Irish some problems, but their secondary has been solid (201.7 YPG, 34th in the nation) and should be tough to throw against without the threat of a running game. Both teams are defensively-oriented and with the Irish scoring only 30 points and the ‘Noles 34 points in their last two games combined, this game has the makings of a defensive struggle. Take the under here as the game is much too close to call with the spread and a preponderance of evidence pointing to a low-scoring affair.