A Familiar Foe

The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles have the utmost respect for each other, but once out on the football field, they flat-out despise each other.

The ‘Canes and Seminoles are set to kick off the latest chapter of their fierce rivalry on Monday night in the biggest game of an action-packed college football opening weekend.

The game marks the 50th meeting between the two powerhouses. Don’t expect anything less than what we’ve seen in the past.

The Hurricanes hold a 29-20 edge in the all-time series, including the last six games played. Miami’s last loss came in 1999 when FSU won 31-21 in Tallahassee. Since then, the Hurricanes have been able to squeak out some of the most exciting victories in school history.

The last four meetings have been decided by a total of 17 points, the closest being a 28-27 win on a last second Xavier Beitia field goal miss in 2002, and the largest a 22-14 win at Doak Cambell Stadium two years ago.

This year’s version of the rivalry is interesting in many aspects. It has been said that this is Miami’s year, not only in the annual fight between the two, but in the national scene. But with each team starting a new quarterback, anything is possible.

The Hurricanes will be led by Kyle Wright, who has thrown a total of nine passes in his college career.

Head Coach Larry Coker said he feels confident about his pick for the job.

“I think he’s a tough player, and he’s very athletic. He’s got extremely quick feet,” Coker said. “He gives us another dimension we didn’t have, and as I mentioned before, he can run.”

The Seminoles have had a fierce battle for the starting quarterback job all spring and fall long. It appears red-shirt freshman Xavier Lee will get the nod, but fellow red-shirt Drew Weatherford has put up quite a fight as of late.

Whoever gets the start for the Seminoles will deal with one of the premier defenses in the country. The Hurricanes returned nearly every starter on defense this season, and after last year’s battle with the injury bug, many young players got a chance to play. Nearly every defensive position has interchangeable parts, a result of the depth this squad will have.

Cornerback Kelly Jennings, who will replace Antrel Rolle, said the defense is packed with talent.

“We really have a lot of guys we can stick in now that can step up and play,” Jennings said. “We don’t have to replace guys; we reload.”

The offense will also return many names. The wide receivers are a year older and will be critical to Wright’s success as a quarterback. Ryan Moore will try to rebound from a very disappointing season a year ago, while Lance Leggett must build upon an impressive freshman campaign.

The FSU defense is no laughing matter, meaning Monday will not be the ideal situation for a new quarterback to get his first start. Two linebackers, Ernie Sims and A.J. Nicholson, strike fear into offenses, especially in hostile territory in front of 85,000 people.

Although this game looks like it may be sloppy on paper, this rivalry has proven time and again that what’s on paper means absolutely nothing.

Douglas Kroll can be contacted at d.kroll@umiami.edu.