Notre Dame will kick off its 2021 season against Florida State with a rare Sunday night game in primetime at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida.
The No. 9 Irish are coming off an undefeated regular season and their second College Football Playoff appearance, but they’ve lost a lot of talent from that team. Nine players were selected in the NFL Draft, including starting quarterback Ian Book, and five more signed as undrafted free agents.
The Irish will turn to Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan behind center. Coan started 18 games for the Badgers during three seasons, including the Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl. He completed 236 of 339 passes for 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns, and five interceptions in his only full season as a starter before a broken foot in camp last year sidelined him for the season.
Coan will primarily be handing the ball off to Kyren Williams, who is one of the nation’s top returning running backs. The offensive line will have some new faces, including Marshall transfer Cain Madden, a returning All-American.
The Irish have a new defensive coordinator in Marcus Freeman, who had the same role at Cincinnati, after Clark Lea took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. There’s plenty of intrigue surrounding how Freeman will mix things up with the Kyle Hamilton-led Irish defense.
It will be coach Brian Kelly’s 12th season at the helm for Notre Dame. He sits four wins shy of passing Knute Rockne for the most wins by a Notre Dame coach.
About Florida State
The Seminoles enter the second year under Mike Norvell, who guided FSU to a 3-6 record in his first year. FSU had the youngest FBS team in college football last season with 75 percent of its roster with underclassmen. Norvell added 13 transfers to the Seminoles roster for the 2021 season, according to Seminoles.com.
Like Kelly, Norvell will likely have a new signal caller in UCF transfer McKenzie Milton, who threw for 8,683 passing yards and rush for more than 1,000 yards as a three-year starter for the Knights. Milton dislocated his right knee and suffered ligament, nerve, and artery damage during a game against USF in November 2018. He rehabbed his way back and ran the UCF scout team in 2020 before transferring to FSU.
But, Norvell listed Milton and Jordan Travis as co-starters on FSU’s depth chart. Travis threw for 1,135 yards (six touchdowns) and had 787 rushing yards (10 TDs) in 12 career games during his FSU career.
The focus won’t only be on who the Seminoles QB will be. FSU averaged 199.9 rushing yards per game for its highest mark since 2016, according to Seminoles.com. Being able to slow down the Seminoles’ run game will be key for the Irish defense.
Recent Series History
2020: ND 42-26 in South Bend
2018: ND 42-13 in South Bend
2014: FSU 31-27 in Tallahassee
2011: FSU 18-14 in Orland (Champs Sports Bowl)
Favorites: ND -7.5
How to Watch
What: No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State
When: 6:30 p.m. CT, Sunday
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium; Tallahassee, Florida
Live stream: fubo TV (try for free)