Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Florida State Seminoles Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/15/2014
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Florida State Seminoles, Saturday Oct. 18, 8 p.m. ET
Let's pretend for a second that this matchup, and the lead-up to it, is all about football. On that front there is no shortage of storylines here. There are just six undefeated teams remaining in the country, and these are two of them. This is the last really tough game for Florida State, and it's the toughest game that Notre Dame will play. There is still a whole lot of football left to play, but when two Top 5 teams meet in the second half of October you know that the winner will have a much easier path to a National Championship than the loser. It's a game with no shortage of important storylines and national implications.
Of course, this matchup is about a whole lot more than just football. Notre Dame has been playing under the shadow of an academic scandal all year, and the news has been filtering out all week that the suspended players are not going to be available again this year - or beyond. Jameis Winston, meanwhile, is a one-man scandal wrecking crew this year. He's facing a hearing for a past, well-publicized sexual assault incident and now also an investigation for possibly accepting payment for signing autographs. A lot of schools would have suspended him by now, but coach Jimbo Fisher is protecting his prize pivot, and at this point it seems that he will be available to play. Needless to say, though, bettors need to keep an eye on his status as the game nears - and he gives us a better reason than usual to wait until close to game time to make a bet.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Florida State Seminoles Betting Storylines
Florida State did something this past week that it isn't easy to do - especially as the defending champions. They won by 18 points on the road last week yet still dropped out of the top spot in both polls - and fell behind a team that started the season unranked, no less. This team has been through enough the last two years to know that rankings mean nothing in the big picture right now, but you can still be sure that they are aware of what happened, they feel insulted by it, and they will use it as a motivation here.
I will admit up front that I am not inclined to be a big fan of Notre Dame - as a Michigan fan, hating the Irish is just what I do. Subjectivity aside, though, there are a lot of things to be concerned about with this team. Their defense was getting a lot of attention before last week after allowing an average of just 12 points per game in their first five outings. Those five opponents haven't proven to be offensive juggernauts this year, though, and giving up 43 points to North Carolina last week calmed a lot of the excitement. Now they are facing not only the best offense they have faced all year but really the only legitimate offense they have seen. It would be too easy to overstate the defensive advantage here. The Irish have also lost their last eight games in a row against Top 5 opponents, and the last seven have been by 13 or more points. They are also playing their first true road game this year, and it comes in a very hostile environment. Notre Dame is obviously capable of winning this game, and nothing I have said changes that, but with a suspect defense, and a team that doesn't rise to the occasion and isn't experienced on the road, it is right to be cautious.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Florida State Seminoles NCAA Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Seminoles favored by 11.5 points, and the line has only shifted slightly to 11 points in action up to this point. Some books have been hesitant to put up a line on the game as early as they normally would given the potential uncertainty, so line movement is tougher to judge than it would normally be. Similarly, a total isn't available at a time when we would normally expect to see one. Like I said, this is not your typical Top 5 showdown.
The Irish have covered all five of their latest games against teams with a winning record. Florida State is just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games overall. They have gone "under" the total in their last four home games.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Florida State Seminoles Expert College Football Predictions and Picks
I really don't like this game - especially because the pressure on Florida State to change Winston's status before the game. Ultimately, though, as unpalatable as it is, I have to back the Seminoles. I don't trust this Notre Dame defense against the Seminoles, and I don't really trust their offense to be able to score against this defense, either. Florida State has the huge home-field advantage, are more seasoned and proven, and are more than capable of winning this one by a couple of touchdowns - or more.
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