Florida State was 9-0 in 1993 and sailing along. They had already beaten their main rival, Miami, 28-10 and had destroyed everyone else they had played.
Notre Dame was also 9-0. The Seminoles came is as the #1 ranked team and the Irish were #2.
I will write more about this 1993 game in the off season, but I can’t help but think of that game with this game looming over the weekend.
The #2 Irish upset the #1 Seminoles that year in South Bend, Indiana winning the game 31-24 and taking over the #1 spot.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lasted at #1 all of one week, losing to Boston College in a monumental upset the very next week, 41-39.
The Seminoles have been in and out of the #1 spot all season. They are 6-0, but not quite as sharp as they were last season. Most polls have the Noles at #3.
Notre Dame is also 6-0 and has been better than last season. The Irish are ranked #6 on my poll and probably at a similar position on other polls.
#3 versus #6 is not quite as good as #1 versus #2, but it’s set up to be a great game like the 3 games these schools played back in those years. The Seminoles and the Fighting Irish played 3 times from 1994 to 1996 with Florida State winning 2 out of 3 and all of them were barn burners.
The Seminoles had a Heisman winner in 1993 in Charlie Ward. The Seminoles have a Heisman winner right now in Jameis Winston.
Needless to say, this game is extremely important for both teams. If Florida State wins, that justifies their earlier ranking and may help them move back to the top. If Florida State loses, it will be harder for them to make the playoffs. However, they can still win the ACC and still might have an outside shot.
Notre Dame wins this game and they continue moving up the polls and put themselves in a prime playoff position. If the Fighting Irish lose, it’s really going to be tough making the playoffs.
Just like 1993, this game is still huge in the National Championship picture.
Florida State is actually prime for the taking. Jameis Winston is a small fraction as productive as he was a year ago. In 2013, Winston threw 40 Touchdown passes and 10 Interceptions.
This season, at the half way point of the season, Winston has only 11 Touchdown passes and 5 Interceptions. He was suspended for the Clemson game or his stats might be better, but the team has looked out of sync for much of the season.
Florida State returned 4 out of 5 starters in their Offensive Line from last year’s championship season and they were expected to not miss a beat. They’ve missed several beats and the offense has struggled at times this season. The running game lost 2 great Running Backs with Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr moving on to the NFL. Karlos Williams had been expected to step up and take over and he has, but he has also had injury problems of late.
True freshman Dalvin Cook has been as good as expected at Running Back and he has rushed for 250 yards so far.
Rashad Greene at Wide Receiver has been great, but they definitely miss big play Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin from last season.
Tight End Nick O’Leary has picked up the slack somewhat, but a guy like Benjamin is hard to replace.
The defense has been hit and miss this season, too. Last season, their defense was near the top in all or most defensive categories. But, this season they are middle of the pack.
Their run defense has been below average. They have only had 8 quarterback sacks on the year so far.
Linebackers Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith have played well and so have Defensive Backs Jalen Ramsey, Nate Andrews, Tyler Hunter and PJ Williams.
The Seminoles are going to have to get some pressure on Notre Dame Quarterback Everett Golson or he could have a banner day.
Notre Dame has looked good at times this year, but maybe not deserving of the #6 ranking. A win over Florida State would justify their lofty ranking.
Everett Golson has looked sensational at times. He will have to be sensational at all times against the Seminoles. He may have to have the game of his life.
There has been a constant reshuffling in the offensive line for the Irish all season and maybe by now they have found the right combination that they want to move forward with.
William Fuller at Wide Receiver has been outstanding, but the other guys will need to help out against the Seminoles. The Irish have been using the old Running Back by committee technique. Seems to be working all right so far.
Seriously, if the Irish are to leave Tallahassee with a win, it’s going to be on the defense to step up the most. Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt have been the top tacklers and the leaders so far.
This game could go in several directions. Notre Dame could march into Tallahassee and pull off a major upset. Or, the Seminoles could barely survive in a slug fest back and forth kind of game.
But, I honestly think the Seminoles take a step forward and play like they have been expected to all season long and win big here. That would not remind me of 1993 at all.