TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The season may not be playing out the way Miami and Florida State had hoped, but a triumph Saturday in this once-storied-but-still-fierce in-state rivalry would give the victors bragging rights and would go a long way toward helping salvage disappointing campaigns. Still, in a rivalry that once decided national titles, this year's edition, which will be played in Tallahassee, will be the first time since 1975 that neither team is above .500.
TV: 3:30 p.m., ABC. LINE: Florida State -3
"It's Florida State week, which always creates a little bit of a different atmosphere in the building, a little different sense of urgency," Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz told reporters. "It's one of those games that you come to Miami to play in, to coach in. It's a legacy game, a game that you'll remember. You'll always be asked what your record is against Florida State while you're here at Miami." The Hurricanes prevailed the last two seasons, storming back from a 20-point second-half deficit to pull out a 28-27 win last year, but Miami hasn't taken three in a row over Florida State since a six-game winning streak from 2000-2004. And it's not that the teams haven't had their chances this season, but both have come up short in big spots and as a result, wins last week only evened up their records, with the Hurricanes rallying late on the road to defeat Pittsburgh 16-12, while the Seminoles took down Syracuse 35-17 for their fourth straight victory in Doak Campbell Stadium. "You can throw the records out," Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart said. "It's going to be a big game. ... We don't like each other, and that's just the way it is."
ABOUT MIAMI (4-4, 2-3 ACC)
It has been a revolving door at quarterback the last few weeks, but Jarren Williams came to the rescue late against Pittsburgh, engineering a nine-play, 62-yard drive that ended with the game-winning 32-yard touchdown strike to K.J. Osborn with 58 seconds left. His play was good enough to get his starting job back from N’Kosi Perry and the offense will also welcome back leading rusher DeeJay Dallas (486 yards, six TDs), who missed last week’s game after suffering an injury the prior outing. While the offense certainly needs to deliver, it’s no secret that the defense holds the key to the team’s success and the unit has held two of the last three opponents out of the end zone, giving up just three field goals to Virginia and four to Pittsburgh, both in victories.
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (4-4, 3-3)
The Seminoles have also been utilizing both their quarterbacks this season and Taggart has been mum on whether it will be James Blackman (1,340 yards, 11 TDs) or Alex Hornibrook (851 yards, six TDs) behind center this week. Either way, the offense revolves around dangerous running back Cam Akers, who not only has spearheaded the team’s ground attack with 917 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns, but against Syracuse, he showcased his talents by lining up in the shotgun at quarterback in the Wildcat formation. “We’ll keep expanding that,” Florida State offensive coordinator Kendal Briles told reporters. “He throws the ball extremely well. ... He’s accurate with the football and he makes good decisions. He’s played the position and that’s why you trust him being back there. It definitely adds a different dynamic.”
1. Miami owns a slim 33-30 series advantage over Florida State, but the Seminoles are 20-17 at home.
2. All four of the Hurricanes' losses have come by seven points or less.
3. The Seminoles have outscored opponents 72-6 in the first quarter during their five home games this season.
PREDICTION: Florida State 24, Miami 20