Even with an ongoing autograph scandal potentially hurting his future eligibility, quarterback Jameis Winston is expected to be active for the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles pivotal matchup against the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium.
According to numerous reports, Winston is accused of signing more than 2,000 authenticated signatures for a memorabilia dealer, but Florida State said Friday it has found no proof that the reigning Heisman Trophy-winner accepted any payments. This comes on top of the pending investigative hearing Winston will eventually have with Florida State regarding an alleged sexual assault back in 2012.
Winston, who’s thrown for 1,605 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, is still eligible to play for the undefeated Seminoles, and they will certainly need him against a No. 7 ranked Irish defense that's allowing only 17.2 points and 348 total offensive yards per game.
Despite their unblemished record, FSU dropped one spot in the Associated Press poll thanks to Mississippi State’s torrid early run through the SEC, coupled with the Seminoles having played and beaten only one ranked opponent.
Last week FSU pummeled Syracuse with 24 points before halftime, and Winston eventually connected on three touchdowns and 317 total passing yards in the 38-20 victory. Seminoles leading receiver and senior Rashad Greene picked up his fourth 100-plus yard game of the season with six catches, and freshman sensation rusher Dalvin Cook filled in for Karlos Williams with 122 yards and one score off 23 attempts.
But a win over a Notre Dame defense led by sophomore cornerback Cole Luke, who’s snatched three of the team’s 10 interceptions and 6.5 tackles-for-a-loss and 2.0 sacks from linebacker Jaylon Smith, would likely put FSU back on top.
The Irish are facing a slightly similar situation, though their victory over then-No. 14 Stanford two weeks ago has afforded them some credit from poll voters. Still Notre Dame is now entering maybe the most critical part of their season, with three straight games on the road. They’ll head to Navy on Nov. 1, and then No. 17 Arizona State a week later.
With Winston’s future status with the team in constant flux, Irish quarterback Everett Golson, who’s racked up 20 touchdowns and 1,892 yards of total offense, could very well move into the Heisman race with a solid performance and win over the Seminoles.
But in order to do so, Golson needs to avoid major slip ups like last week’s narrow 50-43 win over North Carolina. Golson tossed three touchdowns but also committed two turnovers for the third straight game, while two of sophomore running back Tarean Folston’s three touchdowns came in the fourth quarter and eventually staved off the Tarheels.
Start Time: 8 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ABC
Live Online Stream: A live stream is available at ESPN3 here
Betting Odds: Florida State -10 via VegasInsider
Over/Under: 56.5 points
Prediction: Florida State over Notre Dame, 38-24