‘Canes pumped for Monday Night Football

The Miami Hurricanes’ initiation in the ACC will take place Monday night when they take on their biggest rival, the Florida State Seminoles.

The ‘Canes have won five in a row against the Seminoles and a school-record eight straight games on opening day. These are good signs for the No. 5 Hurricanes when they meet the No. 6 Seminoles in the Orange Bowl.

“FSU is always a big rival, but this is an NFL-type Monday Night Football game,” cornerback Kelly Jennings said. “I’ve tried to just work on getting better in practice and not think about it yet, but a couple days before the game, it will sink in that we are playing on Monday Night Football.”

Miami beat the Seminoles twice last season, including a 16-14 win in the Fed Ex Orange Bowl. As a matter of fact, Florida State quarterback Chris Rix has never beaten the Hurricanes in his entire career. With this being his senior season, it could be his last chance to beat the Hurricanes and get that monkey off his back once and for all.

One thing that bodes well for the Seminoles is that they are 5-3 against the Hurricanes all-time when they open against Miami, although Miami has won the last two season openers against the ‘Noles. Miami holds a 28-20 overall series lead.

If the Hurricanes are going to win for the sixth straight time, they will need to be consistent on both sides of the ball.

“Florida State is an outstanding team with great athletes, and obviously the coaching goes without saying. It is going to be a tough, tough football game,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “Florida State is a tough team, and that is the way they play. They are physical. We are going to have to respond, and that has been the attitude we have been taking as coaches and as players.”

Rix has struggled as a Florida State starter. As the first ever four-year starter under Head Coach Bobby Bowden, Rix, who has looked brilliant at times, has always been hapless against the Hurricanes. He has a 24-10 overall record as a starting quarterback, with four of his 10 losses coming against the Hurricanes. However, this year could be different. In fact, Florida State is predicted by most experts to win the ACC this season over Miami, and the Seminoles are actually rated higher in the Associated Press poll, where the ‘Noles are fifth.

“FSU is FSU, we know that they are going to be strong and consistent, so we just have to make sure each person on our team is ready for anything they throw our way,” Jennings said.

The Hurricanes will be looking for consistency from quarterback Brock Berlin. Also, the key in recent success against Florida State has been Miami’s ability to run the football and play good defense. With the duo of Frank Gore and Tyrone Moss, the Hurricanes should be able to get the ground game going. As for the defense, the inconsistent Rix could make its job easy, but if Rix is on, the defense will have to step up and make plays. Either way, unless Hurricane Frances gets in the way, expect these two teams to be ready to meet up at the Orange Bowl Monday night, where the next chapter of this great rivalry will be written.

“We want to win every game and play at a high level,” Jennings said. “But we have been working two-a-days all summer to prepare our first game, which is FSU. We prepare for the first game like it is the biggest game of the season, which is FSU on Monday night so we will be ready.”

Darren Grossman can be contacted at d.grossman@umiami.edu.