Champs Sports - Florida St 18, Notre Dame 14
Posted Dec 29, 2011

2011-2012 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl - Notre Dame vs. Florida State

2011 Champs Sports Bowl

Florida St 18, Notre Dame 14

- 2011-2012 CFN Bowl Central

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National Rankings
73rd Total Offense 34th
6th Total Defense 34th
35th Scoring Offense 42nd
4th Scoring Defense 29th
99th Rushing Offense 51st
2nd Run Defense 57th
34th Passing Offense 33rd
19th Passing Defense 33rd
42nd Turnover Margin 116th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
F   N
3.5 Quarterbacks 3
2.5 RBs 3
3.5 Receivers 4.5
2 O Line 3.5
4.5 D Line 3
4 Linebackers 3.5
4 Secondary 3
5 Spec Teams 1.5
4 Coaching 4
Champs Sports Bowl
Florida State 18 … Notre Dame 14

- CFN Thoughts on the Game

Florida State: The Noles were held to 1.4 yards per carry. … E.J. Manuel completed 20-of-31 passes for 249 yards and two scores. … Devonta Freeman ran 13 times for 48 yards. … Rashad Greene made five catches for 99 yards and a score, along with a brilliant catch on his back. … Punter Shawn Powell averaged 47.2 yards per punt on eight kicks with two put inside the 20. …. LB Nigel Bradham made nine tackles with a pick and two broken up passes.

Notre Dame: The Irish made five sacks. … Tommy Rees completed 16-of-27 passes for 163 yards and a score with two picks. … Cierre Wood ran 18 times for 69 yards. … TE Tyler Eifert caught six passes for 90 yards, and Michael Floyd, before getting hurt, caught five passes for 41 yards with a juggling TD catch. … Manti Te'o made 13 tackles half a sack, forced a fumble that led to a score, and broke up a pass. ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Florida State rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit and used a pair of touchdown passes by E.J. Manuel and two field goals from Dustin Hopkins to slip past Notre Dame 18-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl on Thursday night.

The victory was FSU's fourth straight bowl win. FSU receiver Rashad Greene, who caught one of Manuel's touchdown passes, was named the game's MVP.

The No. 25 Seminoles started four freshman on their offensive line and gave up five sacks, but FSU's defense picked off Notre Dame quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix three times and also piled up four sacks of its own.

Notre Dame shuffled between Rees and Hendrix throughout the game, but both struggled to get the Irish points inside the red zone.

After some stagnant offense on both sides in the first half, FSU trailed 14-0 early in the third quarter before finding some momentum through the air.

The Seminoles closed the gap to 14-9 with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Bert Reed to open the fourth quarter, but failed on their 2-point conversion attempt.

They took the lead just 1:32 later after Nigel Bradham intercepted a Hendrix pass inside the Notre Dame 20 to set up an 18-yard touchdown catch by Greene to make it 15-14 with just over 13 minutes to play following another failed 2-point try.

The Seminoles added their second field goal of the game a series later.

Notre Dame punted on its next touch, but pinned FSU inside its own 5 and forced a quick three-and-out.

A poor punt by the Seminoles and a face mask penalty on the return gave the Irish the ball on the FSU 28 with 3:56 to play, but Rees was picked off in the end zone with 2:48 left and FSU was able to all but run out the remaining clock.

Notre Dame took a 14-0 lead on its opening drive of the second half by capping a 9-play, 62-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Rees to Michael Floyd. Floyd fought Seminoles cornerback Greg Reid for the ball on to play, juggling it multiple times before finally getting his hands around it.

Reid stayed down on the turf after the play and left the game with concussion symptoms.

FSU bounced right back with a 77-yard kickoff return by Lamarcus Joyner, but Notre Dame's fifth sack of the night on Manuel helped force the Seminoles to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Hopkins.

Notre Dame's defense was responsible for the lone score of the first half.

The Irish forced a quick punt on FSU's opening possession of the game, and used a 41-yard return by Floyd and a series of runs by Cierre Wood to set up a first-and-goal inside the 5-yard line.

But the threat ended just a play later when Rees was picked off by Joyner in the end zone.

The Seminoles' ensuing drive lasted only one play itself, with Devonta Freeman fumbling a pass from Manuel into the hands of Notre Dame safety Zeke Motta, who then returned it 29 yards for the touchdown.

Both offenses struggled to find any traction in the opening 30 minutes.

Along with each team's turnovers, Florida State's offense gained only 104 total yards to Notre Dame's 91.

The Seminoles also failed to covert on any of their seven third-down attempts, while allowing four sacks. Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter was responsible for two of them, tying a bowl record.

FSU's special teams didn't fair too much better, coming up a yard short on a fake punt run midway through second quarter.

Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4) Dec. 29, 5:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal … With all due respect to the first 12 bowl games, this is the real start of the 2011-2012 bowl season.

Cal vs. Texas in the Holiday isn't without its charm, and several of the early bowls have been terrific, but the Champs Sports Bowl has a special feel. It's Notre Dame vs. Florida State – which sounds big, if nothing else – and it'll be a sold out Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Meanwhile, both the Irish and the Seminoles had disappointing years, but there's a sense that they're each on the verge of really, really big things with Florida State starting to get back to the talent level of its heyday and Notre Dame starting to bring in the types of players that really and truly can get the program back to a BCS level. 8-4 isn't good enough for either team, and this might be the last time for a while that either one are playing in such a minor bowl.

Florida State got over its early season three-game depression to go on a nice run – winning six of its final seven games – to get back to respectability. However, there weren't any major wins of note, even with victories over Miami and Florida. In almost any other year, beating the Canes and Gators would be reason enough to call the season a success, but they were both average and the only other win of some substance came against NC State. The Nole offense sputtered and coughed way too much, and while the defense made up for it over the second half of the year, it failed when it needed to pick up the slack early on against Clemson and Wake Forest.

Assuming QB E.J. Manuel is coming back for his senior year, the 2012 Seminoles should be loaded with ten starters returning on offense and roughly eight starters back on D. Next year is the one everything has been pointing towards, and beating the Irish would be a great kickoff.

The ante is upped a bit more for Notre Dame. The basic assumption is that FSU will be one of the contenders for the ACC title game next year and a top ten team worthy of being in the national championship chase. But the Irish still need to prove that things are headed in the right direction after looking inept in the regular season finale against Stanford and losing to USC in a key midseason home game. The 31-13 win over Michigan State was dominant, and beating Pitt and Purdue were nice, but the team was so flaky and so sloppy that things seemed to change from one game to the next.

The Irish were nearly perfect against the Spartans, and then they barely showed up in a close-call win over a mediocre Pitt. They roared against Maryland, and struggled the next week against Boston College. The offense seemed like it was finding its stride against Air Force and Navy, and then it struggled at times over the second half of the year.

More than anything else, Notre Dame still looked like a work in progress. If it could've managed to turn the ball over seven times against USF and Michigan instead of ten, it would've started the year 6-0, finished 10-2, and would've ended up in the Sugar Bowl. The team is close under Kelly, really close, but it needs a big, splashy win to show that the corner is about to be turned. This is the win Kelly needs.

The ACC has owned the bowl winning seven of the last eight after starting out 0-2, and Florida State is back on a post-season roll. After going 13-0-1 in bowls from 1982 to 1995, the Seminoles lost three national title games to Florida in the 1997 Sugar, Tennessee in the 1999 Tennessee, and Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange. They're 5-2 in the last seven, with one loss coming against a far better Penn State team in a three-overtime 2006 Orange Bowl, and the other coming after being gutted by suspensions before the 1997 Music City against Kentucky. On a three bowl win streak, including a 42-13 blowout of Wisconsin in the 2008 Champs Sports, the program knows how to prepare.

Notre Dame is also doing well lately in the post-season, winning two straight after going 0-9 from 1994 to 2006. The last win before the long losing streak came over Texas A&M in the 1994 Cotton, but everyone wanted to see the Irish play Florida State in a rematch of the epic 31-24 Notre Dame win over Charlie Ward. This might not make up for not getting that game – an unbeaten Nebraska had something to do with it – but the stakes are high.

Why Florida State Might Win: Turnover margin, turnover margin, turnover margin. The Irish famously gave the ball away 13 times in the first three games, and while the mistakes slowed down a bit, they proved costly time and again. No turnovers vs. Purdue – easy blowout win. No turnovers against Air Force – 59-33. No turnovers against Maryland – 45-21. Three turnovers against both Stanford and USC were a bit part of the losses, and giveaways against Pitt and Wake Forest kept games close. Florida State might not be a rock when it comes to hanging on to the ball, but the defense has been terrific at coming up with takeaways late in the year picking off four passes against Florida and coming up with two fumble recoveries against both Boston College and Miami. How does a defense create turnovers? Pressure.

The veteran Notre Dame offensive line has been night-and-day better than it was during the Charlie Weis era, but it was a disaster against Stanford and had problems with the aggressive USF and Pitt defensive fronts. Few teams do a better job of getting behind the line and screwing things up than Florida State, who led the ACC in both sacks and tackle for loss. The D brings the pressure from all four spots led by Brandon Jennings flying in from the end and Bjoren Werner growing into a star from the other side.

If this gets into a battle of field position in any way, FSU has a huge advantage in the punting game. Shawn Powell led the nation with a 47-yard average and the Noles led in net yardage, while Notre Dame is dead last in America averaging a pathetic 0.3 yards per attempt.

Why Notre Dame Might Win: Sort of lost during the season was how well the Irish defense played. All the focus was on the offense, the quarterback situation, and Brian Kelly's rants, but the defense was quietly solid. It had a few breakdowns against Michigan and the Denard Robinson jump ball throws, and Andrew Luck had a good outing, but the secondary hasn't allowed more than 233 yards since the Michigan State game, and the run defense hasn't allowed more than 200 yards since the USC loss. The Irish are 0-3 this season when allowing three touchdown passes or more, and is 8-1 when giving up fewer than three. Florida State has thrown more than one touchdown pass just one in the last six games, and hasn't thrown for three or more in the last eight.

The Seminole offense was a disaster in the win over Florida, gaining just 95 total yards and exposing a running game that didn't do much of anything this season against the more athletic defensive fronts. The ground attack was stopped by Oklahoma, Clemson, and Miami and has hardly been consistent. Notre Dame doesn't have a steady pass rush, but it has the speed and athleticism in a rotation on the outside to bother an FSU offensive line that's been a nightmare in pass protection. If the Irish can control the lines, it'll easily control the game.

Notre Dame might have a turnover problem, but Florida State has a huge penalty issue. The Noles are dead last in the nation in sins committing 8.17 per game – only Arizona State got into the eights. With 30 in the last three games, FSU is making it way too easy with stalled drives and bad plays at the wrong times.

What To Watch Out For: Call this an audition for the 2012 Notre Dame starting quarterback position. Both Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix are expected to play, and neither one has to worry about soon-to-be Kansas starting quarterback, Dayne Crist. Rees had a good season, throwing for 2,708 yards and 19 touchdowns, but he threw 12 picks and the offense didn't move like it needed to against USC and Stanford. He has the tools and the experience to be terrific – he's only a true sophomore – but Hendrix will gets shot to show a spark. He's more of a runner than Rees, and while he only completed 11-of-24 passes against Stanford, he threw for 192 yards and made it interesting.

With Matt Barkley choosing to stay in school, and Landry Jones rumored to be coming back to Oklahoma, Florida State's E.J. Manuel would move up in the pecking order if he chose to come out. He's hardly polished and he needs another year or work, but he has rare physical skills at a mobile 6-5 and 245 pounds with a live arm. One of the nation's top recruits of 2008, he has yet to play up to the hype or the potential, but he's as intriguing and as talented as any quarterback prospect this bowl season. He completed 11-of-15 passes for 84 yards and a score in last year's bowl win over South Carolina, and he needs to start bombing away more this year with little running game to count on.

One player choosing to stick around for another year is Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o, who would've likely been a late first round pick had he chosen to come out. The inside hitter has ideal 6-2, 255-pound size, but scouts are a bit mixed on whether or not he can be a big-time playmaker at the next level. He's a tackler, but does he have the range and downhill ability to be worth a first round pick? He made 115 stops on the year including 12 in each of his last two games, and he came up with a team-leading 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, but he won't be needed too much against the lousy FSU running game. His job will be to help keep Manuel in check.

What Will Happen: Florida State might be great in bowl games, and the athleticism and defense are there to give the Irish offense problems, but can the attack keep up if Notre Dame's offense starts working? It won't matter if it's Rees or Hendrix in; the Irish won't be able to do much against the rested and motivated Seminole defensive front seven. Brandon Jenkins will come up with two sacks, the FSU secondary will come up with two picks, and there will be plenty of questions going into the offseason for the Irish. The Seminoles won't look great, but they'll do enough to get the win.

CFN Prediction: Florida State 26 … Notre Dame 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Florida State -3   O/U: 48
Confidence Picks
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ND (33) FS (14) FS (26) FS (30) FS (26) FS(11) ND (30) ND (15) FS (29)

E-mail Pete Fiutak
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Both teams are going to be much, MUCH better next year. Notre Dame is going to get far more out of its offense with Brian Kelly doing a far better job in preparation. The Florida State offensive - in every sense of the word - performance against Florida is too fresh.
By Richard Cirminiello 
The Disappointment Bowl. Neither program lived up to its advanced billing in 2011.

By Matt Zemek
Last year, Notre Dame played Miami in a bowl. Now Florida State. Will Notre Dame draw Florida next year in a bowl game?

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee  
These two teams are big disappointments, but the tradition involved in this one can't be ignored. Can the Seminole offense get going against the Irish? It has to happen at some point right? RIGHT???

By Russ Mitchell
A Field of (Unrealized) Dreams

By Terry Johnson
Florida State renews its rivalry with Notre Dame, in what promises to be a very physical contest. With both defenses playing so well over the past few weeks, the offense that makes the most plays will win.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
Let's call this the pre-season overrated bowl. Still, two great traditions that should provide some entertaining moments with huge followings. It'll get TVs turned on.  

Best Bowl Moments

Best Seminole Bowl Moment: The ‘Noles' 14-game bowl unbeaten streak from 1982-1998 is one of the most incredible runs of any kind in college football history. The high point of that boon—and there were many—was the classic 1994 Orange Bowl with Nebraska that matched the top two teams in the country. Florida State took an 18-16 lead on a Scott Bentley chip shot with 21 seconds left, but had to watch as a field goal attempt by Nebraska's Byron Bennett fittingly sailed wide left. Finally standing on the sunshine side of a late missed kick, Florida State reveled in a hard-fought win and the school's first national championship.

Best Irish Bowl Moment: As hard as it is to imagine, it's been 17 years since the Irish have won a major bowl game, the 1994 Cotton classic against Texas A&M. Prior to the current losing streak in showcase bowl games, however, Notre Dame compiled plenty of huge victories in the 1970s and 1980s. In particular, the 1973 Sugar Bowl pitting No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Notre Dame lived up to the billing of "the game of the century." In a thriller that featured six lead changes, the Irish won the game 24-23 and claimed the national championship with an 11-0 record.

Champs Bowl History
2010 NC State 23, West Virginia 7
2009 Wisconsin 20, Miami 14
2008 Florida State 42, Wisconsin 13
2007 Boston College 24, Michigan State 21
2006 Maryland 24, Purdue 7
2005 Clemson 19, Colorado 10
2004 Georgia Tech 51, Syracuse 14
2003 NC State 56, Kansas 26
2002 Texas Tech 55, Clemson 15
2001 Pittsburgh 34, NC State 19
2000 NC State 38, Minnesota 30
1999 Illinois 63, Virginia 21
1998 Miami 46, NC State 23
1997 Georgia Tech 35, Virginia 30
1996 Miami 31, Virginia 21
1995 South Carolina 24, West Virginia 21
1994 Boston College 31, Virginia 13
1993 Stanford 24, Penn State 3
1991 Alabama 30, Colorado 25
1990 Florida State 24, Penn State 17

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