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Notre Dame Football: The Florida State Hangover

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Winter is here.

notre dame florida state Mike Miller/One Foot Down

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish got one step closer to the college football playoffs on Saturday night when they thumped the Florida State Seminoles, 42-13. Whatever imaginary optics are needed for the committee and the country, should have been answered with a 29 point win with Brandon Wimbush instead of Ian Book at quarterback.

Now, that doesn’t mean anyone will count that win as such — but it’s nothing to hold against the Irish. It was a game that were in total control of from start to finish, and a win that was needed in the month of November.

KINGS OF THE NORTH

Notre Dame is the best team in the country north of the Mason Dixon Line. That kind of title is generally reserved for teams that can run the ball in November. It’s a different world up here as Halloween fades away and we look towards Thanksgiving, and the way football games are won shift towards brute force.

Notre Dame showed that brute force against FSU.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Notre Dame Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame ran the ball 50 times for 365 yards. It was an impressive showing against what was the 16th rush defense in the country. The Irish averaged 7.3 yards per carry, and never had a negative run — hell there wasn’t even a sack.

Not only did Dexter Williams run for the most yards since Julius Jones with 202, he had help from Tony Jones Jr. and Jafar Armstrong who combined for 83 yards, and Wimbush tacked on 68 yards of his own.

Tommy Kraemer played the entire game at right guard in place of Trevor Ruhland, and an offensive line that has struggled at times this year at being physically dominant, displayed that dominance against a very big and athletic defensive front.

It’s what you have to do to win games in November.

THE SAFE PLAY

Where would this Notre Dame defense be without Alohi Gilman? The transfer from Navy has been nothing short of outstanding, and his physical style of play has carried over to the rest of the defense. Against the Noles, Gilman had 10 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass break up, and 2 QB hurries. Those stats don’t even tell the entire story as he brings the hammer every play of every game.

The biggest surprise of the Notre Dame season might just be Gilman’s partner on the back end in Jalen Elliott. There is no denying, however, that Alohi has raised the bar at a position that has been Notre Dame’s weakest link for several years. In doing that, the defense has raised its level of play. Considering Notre Dame is on its third defensive coordinator in as many years, Gilman could be a MVP candidate for this unit.

A 2 star. Imagine that....

A PERFECT SEND-OFF

With this win, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish remain perfect with a 10-0 record, and will finish this season unbeaten at home for the first time since 2015. Notre Dame is 20-5 since 2015 inside Notre Dame Stadium — and that includes the disastrous 2016 season.

This game, however, wasn’t for the home stats — it was for the seniors. It’s what the message was all week, and you saw it in their play, and what you heard after the game. It doesn’t matter how bad Florida State is right now, because the only thing that was important was getting the win.

In a post game story, I’ve already discussed the importance of this game for the legacy of Brandon Wimbush, and I saw so many people miss the point entirely with their comments. I can understand when fans get a little myopic during the season, but to throw away the emotion and spirit of the game based on things that really have no importance — well that bothers me greatly. There was a perspective that was needed here after Notre Dame won, and it’s too bad so many missed the boat.

Congrats to our seniors on a job well done, and good luck on the job that still needs finished.

MOVING FORWARD

Notre Dame will now travel to Yankee Stadium to take on the Syracuse Orange. It’s the game of the week in college football despite what any pregame show may say or do (I honestly don’t care that GameDay is heading to Orlando).

I keep hearing that Notre Dame is going to have to score a lot of points if they are going to win against the Orange — but do they really have to? The Irish scoring defense is ranked #15 in the country, and is only allowing 18.7 points per game. So... how many points is “a lot” for Notre Dame?

More on the Orange this week as we all prep our souls and our tolerance levels with everything at stake.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports