Ah yes, it’s that time again. Miami versus FSU; Suntan U versus Free Shoes University; South Beach versus the Redneck Riviera. It’s always circled on the calendar, likely accounting for the largest annual non-weather-related migration in the state each year. It’s a battle of two different styles, two teams as far from each other as possible.
But are the two teams really that different? Ever since Miami joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, where FSU held reign for so long, the teams have fared pretty similar-and it hasn’t been pretty.
Since 2004, the Seminoles are 28-16, with two bowl victories and a loss. At the same time, the Hurricanes are 29-15, with two bowl victories and a loss. It’s a difference in winning percentage of just .029.
The similarities are even more striking this year. FSU (4-2) welcomes Miami (4-3) to Doak Campbell Stadium this Saturday, as both teams come off a conference loss. Both teams struggle to choose between a more prototypical quarterback who fails to live up to expectations (Drew Weatherford, Kyle Wright) or a more athletic play caller with faster legs but a weaker arm (Xavier Lee, Kirby Freeman). Miami’s averages a lowly 23.7 points per game, good enough for 79th in the country. FSU is even more anemic, averaging 22.8 a game, putting them at 88th.
Both schools tend to lean on their run defense, as both are among the top 50 in that category. Yet, in both teams’ previous game, those thought-to-be vaunted defenses gave up at least 180 yards to a single back, crippling the teams in both losses. Just like in the college football world itself, it’s an upside-down, topsy-turvy kind of year for these two teams.
So what are we to expect from Saturday? One thing to not expect is scoring. Not that gambling is legal or anything, but take the under on this one. The offenses have been pathetic for both teams, and despite last week’s running woes, expect that factor to be an anomaly and not a trend.
Expect a lot of quarterback confusion. All four major quarterbacks should see some playing time and that could produce the highest “number of quarterbacks to actual talent” ratio in the history of college football. If one of the quartet has a breakout game, like many thought Wright did against Texas A&M or Lee did against Alabama, it would give their team a colossal advantage. But don’t hold your breath.
What does that leave to break down? The two most dreaded words in the FSU/Miami match-up: Special Teams. Yeah, this will likely be a game of field position capped off by a big kick. Everyone knows how FSU has their share of demons-I’m looking at you, Xavier Betia-but Miami has struggled mightily with that aspect of their game. Francesco Zampogna has missed five out of 14 field goals, often at crucial times. Matt Bosher averages 36.5 yards a punt. And the ‘Canes have had only two touchbacks the entire season. FSU’s tag team of Gary Cismesia and Graham Gano have faired markedly better.
Look, anything can happen-especially this year. With the teams matched up so closely, any gained advantage could decide it. But I think we both know our teams. Just like you think we’re a bunch of private school prima donnas, and just like we think you’re a bunch of hicks ogling vastly overrated cowgirls. Despite our differences, we can come together on two points: That hopefully Saturday’s game will be a good one, and that Florida stinks.
Matthew Bunch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was also printed in the Oct. 18 edition of the FSView & Florida Flambeau, the student-run publications at Florida State University.