Notre Dame schedule watch: Is Florida State vulnerable?

Notre Dame schedule watch: Is Florida State vulnerable?
September 1, 2014, 10:30 pm
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Now that Louisville-Miami is finished up, a look at how Notre Dame's future opponents fared in Week 1:

Michigan (Sept. 6): Beat Appalachian State, 52-14

Devin Gardner completed 13 of 14 passes and threw three touchdowns to Devin Funchess while Derrick Green (15 carries, 170 yards, 1 TD) and De'Veon Smith (8 carries, 115 yards, 2 TDs) torched Appalachian State in Ann Arbor. Michigan took a 35-0 lead into halftime and easily avenged its 2007 loss to the Mountaineers.

[MORE: Week 1 Big Ten power rankings]

Arrow pointing: Up. Michigan looked sloppy against opponents it should've easily beat early in the season a year ago, though Appalachian State's defensive line likely didn't provide much of a challenge for an offensive line that has to be better than it was in 2013.

Purdue (Sept. 13): Beat Western Michigan, 43-34

Western Michigan actually out-gained Purdue, 456-407, while Danny Etling completed half of his 38 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Raheem Mostert (22 carries, 146 yards, 1 TD) and Akeem Hunt (15 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD) powered Purdue's offense in West Lafayette.

Arrow pointing: Up, if for no other reason than Purdue didn't beat an FBS opponent in 2013.

Syracuse (Sept. 27): Beat Villanova, 27-26 in double overtime

The Orange nearly suffered the indignity of losing to an FCS opponent, but Villanova's attempt at a game-winning two-point conversion in the second overtime period failed. It was an all-around bad game for Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, with quarterback Terrel Hunt getting ejected for punching a Villanova player and the Orange offense only generating 320 yards of total offense. Needless to say, this was a game Syracuse would like to forget.

[MORE: Riggs, Bryant provide 'crucial' jolt to Notre Dame punt return]

Arrow pointing: Down. Syracuse went 7-6 a year ago and won its bowl game, but didn't look like a team that'll give Notre Dame much of a challenge later this month.

Stanford (Oct. 4): Beat UC-Davis, 45-0

Not much to read into here. Ty Montgomery returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown and caught a 44-yard touchdown pass as Stanford thoroughly dominated its FCS opponent. We'll know a lot more about the Cardinal after next week's home date with USC.

Arrow pointing: Neutral.

North Carolina (Oct. 11): Beat Liberty, 56-29

The Tarheels were losing to Liberty, 22-21, with 9:25 left in the third quarter but ripped off 28 unanswered points to cruise against the FCS-level Flames. Marquise Williams was sloppy, throwing two picks, and a botched snap on a punt led to Liberty getting a safety. UNC certainly will have to be better, have games against San Diego State and East Carolina to work out the kinks before starting a tough three-game stretch at Clemson, vs. Virginia Tech and at Notre Dame.

Arrow pointing: Neutral.

Florida State (Oct. 18): Beat Oklahoma State, 37-31

For the first time with Jameis Winston, Florida State looked mortal in the regular season. Oklahoma State had a few opportunities to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Pokes QB J.W. Walsh's fumble wound up being too much to overcome as Florida State stepped on the gas late. Running back Karlos Williams generated just 66 yards on 23 carries and while wide receiver Rashad Greene (11 catches, 203 yards, 1 TD) was dominant, a secondary target didn't emerge. Florida State still looks like a good bet to make the College Football Playoff, but the 'Noles may have more trouble getting there than they did a year ago.

[MORE: Everett Golson shines in return as Notre Dame rolls Rice]

Arrow pointing: Down. FSU still has a month and a half to gel as a team before Notre Dame comes to Tallahassee, but for one night, they looked beatable.

Navy (Nov. 1): Lost to Ohio State, 34-17

Navy gave the Braxton Miller-less Buckeyes a heck of a game, but Darron Lee's 61-yard fumble return for a touchdown and J.T. Barrett's 80-yard scoring strike to Devin Smith in the third quarter all but sunk the Mids. As usual, Navy's triple option attack gave Ohio State fits -- 63 rushes, 370 yards -- and looked as strong as ever with Keenan Reynolds returning to run the show. Defensively, Navy is vulnerable, so for the second straight year the game vs. Notre Dame could be a shootout.

Arrow pointing: Neutral. Navy was a trendy upset pick, but even without Miller Ohio State's across-the-board talent wound up showing out.

Arizona State (Nov. 8): Beat Weber State, 45-14

Arizona State scored the first 38 points against FCS-side Weber State, with the Taylor Kelly-to-Jaelen Strong connection as good as ever. Junior running back D.J. Foster impressed as the Sun Devils look to replace Marion Grice, rushing 15 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns. As is the case with Stanford, we'll know a lot more about Arizona State later this month when they welcome UCLA to Tempe on Sept. 25.

Arrow pointing: Neutral.

Northwestern (Nov. 15): Lost to Cal, 31-24

There's really no way around it: This was a brutal loss for Northwestern. Cal went 1-11 a year ago but held a 31-7 lead in the third quarter before a furious comeback attempt by Northwestern. Trevor Siemian struggled while the Cats, without Venric Mark, averaged three years per carry on 36 rushing attempts.

Arrow pointing: Down. A year ago, Northwestern had the excuse of bad luck and a slew of injuries on which to pin its 5-7 season. Saturday's loss to Cal was bad, and was an ominous start for a team still trying to re-capture its 2012 success.

Louisville (Nov. 22): Beat Miami (FL), 31-13

Quarterback Will Gardner looked shaky at times in Louisville's ACC debut, but the Cardinals easily pulled away in the fourth quarter. Louisville's defense looked stout against a Miami offense led by a freshman quarterback, limiting Brad Kaaya to 174 yards and forcing two interceptions. Canes running back Duke Johnson didn't get going, either, rushing 20 times for 90 yards and no touchdowns.

[MORE: Notre Dame still figuring out running back plan]

Arrow pointing: Up. While Louisville hardly played a clean game, this is a team that very well could come together and be a difficult win for Notre Dame in two and a half months.

USC (Nov. 29): Beat Fresno State, 52-13

Given the Josh Shaw mess and running back Anthony Brown quitting the team last week (and calling coach Steve Sarkisian a racist), USC was a prime candidate of a sloppy game. Instead, Cody Kessler torched the Bulldogs for 394 yards and four touchdowns, Buck Allen ran for 133 yards and a touchdown and USC's defense picked off four passes in an impressive blowout. There's no question USC has loads of talent -- they out-gained Fresno State 701-317 -- and that showed in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Arrow pointing: Up.

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