The giant regular season games don’t mean quite as much in an expanded College Football Playoff world, and this might not even mean much of anything to Florida State or Notre Dame if both teams are as good as expected, but …

Of course Florida State vs Notre Dame will be a big deal.

Okay, let’s get the reality of this out of the way before diving into the fun.

Winning the ACC Championship is what truly matters to Florida State – at least that’s all that means anything if the team is legitimately good … almost.

In the new CFP, the top four conference champions get a top four spot and a first round bye. So FSU can lose this, win the ACC title, and most likely get a seed in the top four. Now, where this does turn into a giant deal for FSU is if it wins this and then doesn’t win the ACC Championship.

10-2 almost certainly gets a Florida State into the CFP – and so does 10-3 with an ACC title loss – so yeah, winning this is a big, giant deal.

And then there’s Notre Dame. 12-0 and blasting everyone doesn’t get the team any higher then the 5 seed – conference champions only in the top four – but with its schedule a win here might just seal a top 12 deal.

It’s going to be a thing no matter what. Here are 5 things you need to know about Florida State.

It seems like a million years ago now, but back in 2020 a loaded Clemson team was 6-0 going into the trip to South Bend to deal with the unbeaten Irish. Tiger QB Trevor Lawrence was out with COVID, so in came superstar freshman DJ Uiagalelei with a chance to do something special.

The Irish won a 47-40 thriller, but Uiagalelei did his job throwing for 439 yards and two scores and running for two touchdowns in the loss.

In 2022 as the starter for the 8-0 Tigers, Uiagalelei went to Notre Dame again and had a tough day throwing for 191 yards and a touchdown and a pick in a rough 35-14 loss.

He transferred to Oregon State last season, and now he’s the main man for the Florida State attack. Assuming all is going as expected by this point in the season, the fifth-year senior will get a third shot to win in South Bend.

Jared Verse was the star of the Florida State pass rush last season, but now he’s part of the Los Angeles Rams. The Noles will bring the pressure from all sides – Georgia transfer Marvin Jones Jr. will help – but it’ll be Patrick Payton who takes his game up a few notches after a seven sack season.

However, even with the pressure from the Seminole front …

Assuming all is right with the world and Leonard is healthy and rolling, he needs to have a day.

The Florida State defense should once again be outstanding against the run, but it has to hold down the good passers. Last year’s 13-1 team had a fight with Boston College, Florida, and for a half against LSU and eventual Heisman-winner Jayden Daniels.

In those three games, and the bowl walloping from Georgia, FSU allowed passers to hit 56% or more of their throws. FSU didn’t have any problems with anyone else.

As long as the Irish passing game is working, the offense should move, but …

Helped a wee bit but what should be a great pass rush, Florida State has the defensive backs to be dangerous against anything the Irish try to do on deep shots.

The combination of Fentrell Cypress and Azareye’h Thomas broke up 17 passes last season and should come into this with a whole lot of hype. It’s a bit of a push to suggest their one of the team’s biggest strengths, but they’re not that far off.

There’s a chance the Noles will be a wee bit overhyped coming into this.

To keep throwing this caveat in there considering it’ll be a few months from now, Florida State should be very, very good. The schedule isn’t a breeze, but the home game against Clemson is the biggest test until this.

Remember, everyone will have an opinion on FSU, and most will give the team the benefit of several doubts after missing out on the College Football Playoff despite going 13-0. That’s not how this is supposed to work, but who doesn’t love November hype for a college football game like this?

There were a few close calls against mediocre teams, a wild battle against a Clemson squad that wasn’t up to its normal snuff, and the ACC Championship came over a Louisville team that beat Notre Dame.

It’s not like the Noles were playing in the Big Ten or SEC last season.

This should be a rolling Florida State team coming in.

Still aggrieved after last season’s CFB snub, this year’s team should play at a whole other level in dangerous games week after week coming into this.

But the Irish defense will get to Uiagalelei, the balance on their own offense will take over early on, and in a game that might just turn Notre Dame into a true national title contender, it’ll be fun right up until Uiagalelei throws his second pick of the game.

It’ll live up to the hype.

Notre Dame 23, Florida State 20
– Florida State 2024 Preview
5 Things To Know
– Aug 31: Texas A&M
– Sept 7: Northern Illinois
– Sept 14: Purdue
– Sept 21: Miami Univ.
– Sept 28: Louisville
– Oct 12: Stanford
– Oct 19: Georgia Tech
– Oct 26: Navy

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