All focus is on beating FSU

Red Sox vs. Yankees, Duke vs. North Carolina, Michigan vs. Ohio State, Lakers vs. Celtics and throw in Miami vs. Florida State as one of the fiercest rivalries in sports.

All eyes will be on Miami and No. 18 Florida State as the Hurricanes head to Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee to play the arch-nemesis Seminoles to open the 2009 season in a nationally televised game.

Dating back to 1983, the Hurricanes and Seminoles have combined for more national titles than any other rivalry in the country. There is no love lost between these two teams as Miami has crushed Florida State’s national championship aspirations five times since 1987 and holds the all-time series record at 30-23.

The Canes recognize this is not just another game.

“As a player this is what you live for,” sophomore linebacker Sean Spence said. “This is why people come to the University of Miami, big games like this. A rival on Monday night at Florida State, it’s going to be a lot of emotion. We are ready.”

Last year, the Hurricanes fell short in a second-half rally as the Seminoles topped the Canes, 41-39. Florida State dominated the first half, putting Miami in a struggled hold, 24-3. It looked like a mismatch until Miami scored 36 points in the second half, but were unable to pull out a win.

History has proven that UM and FSU games can swing either way as Florida State has suffered from three “wide rights” and one “wide left.”

“You never know,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “You never know what to expect when Miami and Florida State play.”

Two years ago at Doak, the Canes drove down the field and scored a touchdown against the Noles in an epic final series. Linebacker Colin McCarthy sealed the game 11 seconds later with a 27-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.

“This is always going to be a marquee game. Florida State is a great team; Miami is always a great team,” sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris said. “We have to go out there and make something happen.”

Sophomore linebacker Jordan Futch feels confident in his team’s chances.

“We expect to come out and dominate,” he said. “We are all prepared. Nothing really stands out when watching Florida State on film. We all know what to do, we just have to execute.”

For the first time in three years, the Hurricanes open against the Seminoles.

“We play Florida State to open the season, and we’re motivated,” sophomore wide receiver LaRon Byrd said. “It’s football season and I’m pumped about it.”

The last time Miami and Florida State squared off in the opening game of the season, the Seminoles rallied in the second half to defeat the Canes, 13-10.

But back then both teams were ranked in the top 25 and Shannon wasn’t the head coach.

Miami looks forward to traveling to the state capital to play its ACC opener and show the country that the swagger is back.

“I heard it’s very loud up there,” Harris said. “I don’t mind big crowds. I like big crowds. Plus I like going away. I like to break the spirits of the fans.”

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