Posted by Tom Fornelli
FLORIDA STATE WON. For the first 30 minutes of this game, Florida State looked pretty hopeless. An offensive line featuring four freshmen was being overwhelmed by Notre Dame's front seven leaving E.J. Manuel running for his life. The Seminoles were only able to manage a field goal in the first half, but even that was set up by a great kick return that only saw the 'Noles move backward and have to settle for 3 points. Then the second half came.
The offensive line figured things out at halftime, with some help from a lack of blitzes by the Irish, and Florida State owned the final thirty minutes, outscoring the Irish 15-0. It was not a pretty effort by any means, as Florida State managed only 290 yards of offense and was 3-of-14 on third down in the game, but the 'Noles got the job done thanks to some big throws by Manuel and some great grabs by Rashad Green. That and a defense that smothered Notre Dame for most of the night.
WHY FLORIDA STATE WON. Florida State won this game because it did the best thing a team can do when facing Notre Dame: let Notre Dame beat itself. The Irish turned the ball over 3 times in this one, including 2 turnovers in the red zone by quarterback Tommy Rees who twice tried to force a touchdown pass that just wasn't there. That and a strong defensive effort on a whole -- Notre Dame only scored one of its touchdowns on offense -- is why the Seminoles are leaving Orlando with a win.
WHEN FLORIDA STATE WON. With less than three minutes to go and Notre Dame trailing by 4 points inside Florida State territory, Tommy Rees launched an ill-advised pass into double coverage that was picked off by Terrence Brooks in the end zone. The Seminoles then ran out most of what remained on the clock.
WHAT FLORIDA STATE WON. Well, you can joke and say that by winning this game, Florida State has now earned the right to be the one of these two programs that is grossly overrated heading into the 2012 season. You know, kind of like both schools were going into 2011. Still, in reality, this is a nice win for Florida State and sends them into the offseason with some momentum. Florida State isn't a perfect team by any means, but it was also a better squad than what we saw in 2011.
WHAT NOTRE DAME LOST. A chance to end the season on a positive note. Instead this bowl game served as a 60-minute microcosm of the entire Notre Dame season in 2011. Terrible turnovers by an inconsistent offense combined with a defense that played well, but just couldn't play well enough to make up for the offense. So now, heading into 2012, the Irish face the same exact questions they had coming into 2011. Namely, who is going to be this team's quarterback?
THAT WAS CRAZY. Michael Floyd played his last game for Notre Dame, and also became the first receiver in school history to catch 100 passes in a season. Unfortunately he wasn't able to finish the game after suffering an undisclosed injury,but before leaving he made this ridiculous touchdown grab and saved Tommy Rees from a third red zone turnover in the process.
GRADE: C+. I gave this game the "+" because at the very least it was close. However, other than that, there wasn't really much to enjoy here save for some spectacular grabs by guys like Michael Floyd and Rashad Green. If those two had just put on a trick catch competition instead of the actual game, the grade likely would have been a lot higher.