X'S AND O'S
Notre Dame has been picked on with the pass, but it has two possible first-rounders in the secondary (Bobby Taylor and Jeff Burris), so how bad can the pass defense be? What the Irish have to do is stop Florida State's running game, which is sneaky mean. The Seminoles have a sadistic passing attack yet have run for almost as much yardage as Notre Dame has. Yikes.
The Irish also have got to figure out a way to stop Ward and his fast-break offense. Since the Seminoles went to the fast break late last season, Ward has thrown eight times as many touchdown passes as interceptions. "He's the best I've ever seen, coached or played against," says North Carolina coach Mack Brown.
Still, the Irish run seemingly at will, and if they never give the ball back, Ward will never get it. Notre Dame rarely loses big games. Notre Dame, one point.
Notre Dame has some players who seem to have come from good homes but aren't quite right in the head, and that makes for a loose team. Take, for instance, linebacker Pete Bercich, who once showed up for a TV head shot in nothing but a jockstrap and a helmet, who has worn a cardboard mask of Holtz to a team meeting and who says he enjoys making his own bullets for his two .44-caliber handguns. Holtz once said to Bercich, "Son, you're gonna make me take recruiting more seriously." Notre Dame, one point.
Notre Dame's kicking game is horrible. Holtz is using a flanker as a punter and a refugee from the soccer team as the place kicker. The only saving grace for the Irish is that they go for it on fourth down a lot and make it more often than they don't.
Florida State's kicking is average. Bowden has freshman celebrity Scott Bentley, one of the most heavily recruited high schoolers in the country last season. The Irish thought Bentley was 15 minutes from signing with them when he signed with the Seminoles instead, causing some very bad blood. Perhaps because of this, Bentley has been erratic, missing eight PATs but making 10 of 13 field goal attempts. Call it even.
LOVABLE HOMESPUN LEGENDS
Whom do you like in a game as big as this, as big as college football itself?