- Matt Fortuna, College Football
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A tip of the cap to ESPN Stats & Info for these tidbits:
Brian Kelly is trying to become the first Notre Dame coach to win bowl games in each of his first two seasons as the Irish's coach. (Notre Dame did not play in bowls from 1926-68 because of a self-imposed ban but have played in 30 bowl games all time.)
Florida State is appearing in a bowl game for the 30th straight season, the longest active FBS streak. (The NCAA does not, however, recognize the Seminoles' 2006 Emerald Bowl appearance, which was vacated because of sanctions.) Florida (21), Virginia Tech (19), Georgia (15) and Georgia Tech (15) have the next longest streaks.
With senior running back Jermaine Thomas (279 yards, 2 TDs) academically ineligible, FSU will lean even harder on true freshman Devonta Freeman, who leads the team with 531 rushing yards and has a touchdown as well.
Notre Dame is appearing in bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2004-06. The Irish have not won consecutive bowl games since 1991-93.
These teams have not met since 2003, a 37-0 FSU in at Notre Dame. The only other bowl meeting between these two came in the Orange Bowl on New Year's night 1996, a 31-26 FSU win that saw the Seminoles score the game's final 17 points over the last 9:47. FSU is 4-2 all time against the Irish.
FSU is 7-0-2 all time in games played in Orlando, Fla., including a 23-16 win over Notre Dame on Nov. 12, 1994. The Seminoles are making their second Champs Sports Bowl appearance, having beaten Wisconsin, 42-13, in the 2008 game.
Seminoles QB E.J. Manuel is making his third straight bowl appearance and second bowl start. He completed 28-of-39 passes for 273 yards, a touchdown and no picks in his first two bowl games. He started the 2010 Gator Bowl and took home MVP honors in what was former coach Bobby Bowden's final game.
Since losing an FBS record nine straight bowl games form 1994-2006, Notre Dame has won its past two bowl appearances, in 2008 and 2010.
Notre Dame is making its sixth bowl appearance against a current ACC opponent. The Irish are 2-3 in such games, having beaten Miami in last year's Sun Bowl, 33-17.
Notre Dame enters the game 116th in turnover margin and has a minus-13 turnover differential.
Notre Dame has won its past two bowl games by an average margin of 22 points per game. The Irish have outgained their opponents by 55.5 yards per game in those two games and did not turn the ball over while forcing six turnovers.
By comparison, in their nine bowl games before that (0-9), the Irish lost by an average of 17.7 points per game and were outgained by an average of 145.1 yards per game. Their turnover margin was minus-6.
FSU holds opponents to an FBS-best 2.3 yards per rush. The Seminoles have allowed only 104 rushes of five or more yards (24.6 percent of opponents' carries), the best margin in the nation.
A tip of the cap to ESPN Stats & Info for these tidbits: Brian Kelly is trying to become the first Notre Dame coach to win bowl games in each of his first two seasons as the Irish's coach.