Notre Dame - Florida State

IS IT THE FIRST “QUARTERFINAL?” NOTRE DAME VISITS FLORIDA STATE AS FINAL FOUR LOOMS

We’ve talked in recent days about how this Saturday night’s Notre Dame/Florida State game could be a virtual “quarterfinal” play-in game for college football’s Final Four championship tournament. You know that the SEC West champion is going to be there. It’s fairly likely that the Big 12 champion is going to be there. If defending National Champion Florida State runs the table, it would seem impossible to keep them out no matter what’s been happening off the field. If Notre Dame runs the table with a win over FSU...the Irish are a shoe-in.

Obviously there’s a lot of football left. And, Notre Dame in particular is far from a lock to run the table with USC and Arizona State still ahead as tough road tests (and don’t sleep on Louisville and Northwestern as sleepers in South Bend!). But, this is the closest game we’ll have in October to a playoff scenario. The loser is in big trouble. The winner could easily be launched into the brackets as long as they keep taking care of business.

From this point forward, we’ll be able to use JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats from the NFL to preview high priority college games. There’s enough of a sample size for the numbers to matter. Let’s see what they say about Notre Dame at Florida State...a game you’ll be watching on national TV in prime time Saturday Night...

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Notre Dame: 6-0 (#51 schedule in USA Today)
Florida State: 6-0 (#45 schedule in USA Today)

Those records are good enough to get these teams ranked #5 (Notre Dame) and #2 (Florida State) in the country. Most analytics approaches don’t agree with the polls. Well, not in the case of Florida State. They’ve been largely unimpressive in context...playing at a level much lower than last year’s team...and much lower than the best in the SEC so far this season. Some computers do have Notre Dame high up, others are more skeptical. Interesting that the teams have played comparable schedules to date. FSU was supposed to have it easy this year, while ND allegedly had a killer schedule. Hasn’t worked out that way yet.

Yards-Per-Play
Notre Dame: 6.0 on offense, 5.0 on defense
Florida State: 6.6 on offense, 5.0 on defense

We haven’t mentioned yet that the status of FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is still up in the air as we write this. Most assume he’s going to play, because FSU is doing whatever they can to keep him on the field for their biggest game of the season. He already missed the Clemson game, and the Seminoles were lucky to survive that night. If Winston plays, FSU will have an edge on offense because of his playmaking abilities. The defenses have been about the same so far. A credit to both...but FSU hasn’t played as well on the scoreboard as that 5.0 mark would suggest.

Turnover Differential
Notre Dame: +3
Florida State: -1

Relatively disappointing numbers for both halfway through the season. It’s good to be on the plus side...but that’s only half a turnover-per-game for the Irish. They were supposed to be sharper than that with Everett Golson returning as a more mature player. FSU should be embarrassed about its execution considering their schedule. The offense lacks focus and intensity. The defense comes and goes. The biggest sign that FSU spent too much time celebrating their national championship is that they have a negative turnover differential halfway through the new season.

Market Performance
Notre Dame: 4-2 ATS
Florida State: 1-5 ATS

And, that celebration overdose has led to FSU being extremely overrated this season. Expectations have been very high. They’re not playing to those expectations. Notre Dame has been, which is a credit to the program because lines are usually stacked against the Irish because of public betting interest. Notre Dame has clearly been the better value team by a mile.

Current Line: Florida State by 11 with Winston, by about 4 without him

As we go to press, many sportsbooks are keeping the game off the board pending potential news about Winston. The settled line before the turmoil was FSU by 11 (a number not justified by the indicator stats we just looked at). If he’s out, reports are that the market will make an adjustment of about a touchdown...similar to what happened in the Clemson game.

JIM HURLEY has been working closely with his sources all week on this marquee matchup. He has a plan of attack for all possibilities. Though, that plan could include passing the game if there are better options on the loaded Saturday card. Build your bankrolls Friday Night with the best from Fresno State/Boise State and Temple/Houston...then hit the ground running Saturday with THE BEST BETS ON THE BOARD!

You can always purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card in the hours leading up to kickoff. If you have any questions about special offers on combination packages for football and playoff baseball, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you again Sunday for our next edition. Here’s the big-game preview schedule over the next several days...

Sunday: NFL Stat Preview...San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos
Monday: NFL Stat Preview...Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Tuesday: World Series Game One Stat Preview
Wednesday: World Series Game Two Stat Preview
Thursday: NFL Stat Preview...San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos

Notre Dame/Florida State is just one of many blockbuster matchups on what may be the best football schedule we’ve seen yet this season. Be sure you GET ALL THE MONEY with BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

And be sure to follow Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley!

 

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