NCF Nation: 2011-champs-bowl-keys

Champs Sports Bowl keys

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
10:30
AM ET
Here are three keys for Florida State against Notre Dame:

1. Find the offense. The O disappeared over the final three games of the regular season, and Florida State hasn’t helped itself on third downs or with penalties. The Seminoles are last in the country with 8.17 penalties per game, costing themselves 69.25 yards per game with a total of 98 penalties this season. Only four teams in the country have more total penalties. The Noles also need to be more successful on third downs. They converted just 2-of-15 against Florida, 3-of-13 against Virginia and 4-of-11 against Miami.

2. Get pressure on quarterback Tommy Rees and cover receiver Michael Floyd. If the defense can get in Rees' face, it will disrupt Floyd’s opportunities. Floyd has 1,106 receiving yards and a school-record 95 catches. FSU’s defense is one of the best in the country, but Notre Dame’s offensive line has been one of the best at protecting its quarterback. The Irish have allowed just 13 sacks all season.

3. Continue to highlight special teams. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and FSU has two of the nation’s best kickers in punter Shawn Powell and kicker Dustin Hopkins. Powell is averaging 47 yards per punt, a figure topped only twice in a season in ACC history. Powell leads the FBS in yards per punt, and the Noles are first in net punting as a team (42.04). Hopkins has 61 field goals and 320 points in his career.

Champs Sports Bowl keys

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
10:30
AM ET
The prediction is in the books. Now let's look at the keys for Notre Dame in Thursday's Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

1. Stay disciplined. Fair catch the punt if you have any doubt. Channel that edge after the whistle. Defense and special teams are the name of the game for FSU, and Notre Dame will play right into the Seminoles' hands if it can't protect the ball or aids the Seminoles offensively with penalties.

2. Protect Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix. FSU's defense is ranked sixth nationally and fourth in scoring. It also ranks ninth in sacks, averaging three per game. The Irish offensive line has to withstand the Seminoles' lethal pass rush, and Rees and Hendrix have to show a strong presence in the pocket and get rid of the ball when they're in trouble.

3. Bring the rush. Ethan Johnson said he's 110 percent after resting the sprained right ankle that sidelined him for four games this season. Stephon Tuitt appears to have recovered from an illness that forced him to miss the past two games. Florida natives Louis Nix and Aaron Lynch (an FSU decommit) are pumped to play in their home state against a team from Florida. And did we mention FSU's offensive line? The Irish pass rush should have a field day against a Seminoles offense that amassed just 95 total yards in its regular-season finale against Florida.

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