FSU, Miami to renew rivalry, with much at stake
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Given Florida State’s dip in the College Football Playoff rankings this week, there’s a sense that the people who will choose the four teams to vie for the national championship have at least some mild doubts about the Seminoles.
Maybe they should talk to Miami.
The Hurricanes sound as though they don’t need any convincing.
“You can say what you want about them: ‘They had a team last year. They’re not this. They’re not that,’” Miami running back Duke Johnson said. “At the end, they find a way to win.”
That they do, 25 consecutive times and counting.
And now Miami gets a chance to snap the streak, as one of college football’s best rivalries is rekindled in prime time.
No. 2 Florida State (9-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 3 CFP) visits Miami (6-3, 3-2) on Saturday night looking for its fifth straight win in a series in which the players have competed with and against each other for many years.
“There’s a great sense of pride,” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Not only is it unbelievably competitive, but I do think there’s a very good sense of respect through both schools, through the players and how they compete against each other. And I think that’s one of the things that makes this rivalry very unique.”
A Florida State victory would also clinch another berth in the ACC title game — and possibly with hopes of impressing the selection committee that dropped the Seminoles one spot in this week’s rankings.
There are plenty of compelling story lines. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will be matching wits with Miami’s record-setting freshman quarterback, Brad Kaaya. Johnson is facing Florida State again after breaking his ankle against the Seminoles last season. And the Hurricanes’ seniors are trying to beat their rival for the first time.
Not to mention, many high-profile recruits will be watching.
“They were champions last year. From our standpoint, we’re trying to get there,” Miami coach Al Golden said. “I think a lot of recruits see it as an opportunity to help us get there. I can’t speak for them, but from our standpoint, we still need help building and getting there. And there’s opportunity when you’re building it for guys to come in and impact your program.”
Here’s what to know when Miami faces Florida State:
SEMINOLE STATS: Florida State has won its first nine games by an average of 15.4 points. The Seminoles won their first 13 last season by 42.3 and have already allowed more points in 2014 than 2013.
“Jimbo challenged us,” defensive end Mario Edwards said. “He’s telling us now that teams to remember play in November. We’re definitely going to have to step our game up.”
DUKE’S NUMBERS: Johnson is 251 yards shy of matching Ottis Anderson’s all-time Miami record, has five straight 100-yard games and has a rushing touchdown in eight straight — the longest such streak by any Hurricane since Willis McGahee scored in 11 consecutive games in 2002.
“He’s one of the outstanding players in this country,” Fisher said.
WINSTON WATCH: Winston has thrown six interceptions in his last three games, and with oddsmakers thinking this game could be close, taking care of the football might be even more important than usual Saturday. Miami picked off a pair of Winston’s passes last year, turning both of those turnovers into touchdowns.
FSU HEALTH: Seminoles RB Dalvin Cook is expected to play despite a sore hip after he took a particularly hard hit last week. And Florida State is getting C Austin Barron back after a four-game absence because of a broken arm. Fisher said Barron isn’t likely to start.
THE RIVALRY: Florida State has owned this rivalry in recent seasons, but over time, things have been remarkably even. In the last 15 meetings between the two, Miami has eight wins to Florida State’s seven. Average score of those games: FSU 26, Miami 24. Average yards: FSU 358, Miami 347. Average yards per play: Florida State 5.1, Miami 5.1.