The Miami Hurricanes (4-3) will travel to a hostile environment in Tallahassee, Fla. to face arch nemesis Florida State (4-2) on Saturday in one of the most intense rivalries in college football. Unlike past meetings, there won’t be any talk of national championship upset in this year’s showdown, as both teams are unranked for the first time since 1977.
Dating back to 1983, Miami and Florida State have combined for more national titles than any other rivalry in the country. The Canes have crushed Florida State’s national championship aspiration five times since 1987 and hold the all-time series record at 29-22.
The Hurricanes recognize this is not just another game on the schedule.
“It’s like the Super Bowl. It is a big rivalry that’s been going on so long,” All-American Kenny Phillips said. “It’s going to be intense.”
However, the Seminoles have dominated the Hurricanes the past two seasons. Last year, Miami squandered multiple opportunities to close out Florida State as they blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter to lose 13-10. In 2006, Miami botched a last minute field-goal attempt, which has come to be known as the “Miami Muff,” allowing Florida State to pull out the victory.
The Canes are coming off of back-to-back losses in Atlantic Coast Conference play to North Carolina and Georgia Tech. Last week, the Yellow Jackets rallied in the second half to sting the Canes, 17-14. Florida State was handed their second conference loss at home last week at the hands of Wake Forest.
One reason for the losses is that the Canes are racking up almost seven penalties per game. Penalties have stopped critical drives, given the opponents second chances and allowed game-changing plays.
“For some reason, we’ve been getting a lot of key penalties in key situations that [are] stopping us,” Head Coach Randy Shannon said.
Shannon has to find a balance on offense this week. The offensive line needs to play with a mean streak in order for running backs Javarris James and Graig Cooper to use their open-field explosiveness. Quarterback Kyle Wright must overcome a 0-2 record versus the Seminoles in his final year at the helm. Wright needs to be an effective passer to prevent Florida State from putting eight men in the box.
Shannon is focused on the task of beating Florida State, but is downplaying the rivalry hype and treating it like any other conference matchup.
“We need a win. It’s ACC play,” Shannon said. “It means a lot to us.”
The players, on the other hand, haven’t forgotten what it would mean to beat FSU.
“This is what everybody plays for. It’s Miami versus Florida State,” Senior Tavares Gooden said. “It’s [all about] bragging rights.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.