It’s Miami and Florida State, yet I’m not jacked yet. Would 3-1 have given this match up more meaning than 2-2? Maybe, but not much. Not in a rivalry that proved to be the game of the year in 1987, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2000, 2002 and had a few more big time meetings in recent memory.
Last year was the same, with the Canes and Noles falling under the radar in an ABC regional game with a D-level announcing team. Once the ball was kicked off, the juices were flowing and it was UM and FSU… but it never felt ‘epic’. Not even when Miami rallied behind the arm of Kirby Freeman and stole one late. It just felt like another ACC game that both teams needed.
Come Saturday, both teams need this one again. Miami and Florida State each have a conference loss and if Tampa is a reality, neither the Canes or Noles can afford to dig themselves out of a whole.
A series that once defined the national championship is all about ACC pride this year, with neither rival poised or predicted to represent their division. How the mighty have fallen.
Both teams will return to prominence. New coaches. New players. A new attitude. Miami has a few steps on Florida State, having fired their lame-duck head coach two years ago.
The Noles have to ride out the Bobby Bowden era and let the legend step down on his own watch. The predecessor has been chosen, but is relegated to the role of offensive coordinator until the legendary leader calls it a career. Until then, chaos and underachieving will remain part of FSU’s repertoire.
At times, Miami has looked “almost back” this year. A hard fought game at Florida and a stellar defensive effort. An offensive onslaught at Texas A&M and some swarming D. Even in the loss to North Carolina, Miami had some bright spots; most notably the arm of Robert Marve and the legs of Graig Cooper.
Conservative coaching and defensive breakdowns did the Canes in last week, but both are fixable as early as this week, depending on which Miami shows up.
A huge black eye during the Larry Coker era was the Canes inability to bounce back after a troubling loss. In 2003 a 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech was followed by an equally as embarrassing home loss a week later to Tennessee, 10-6. The Canes were lifeless and lacked passion in route to the program’s first back-to-back losses since the 1999 season.
In 2004 No.3 Miami lost on a last second field goal against an unranked North Carolina team and choked a week later when Clemson headed to the Orange Bowl. Nursing a 17-3 lead midway through the third quarter, the Canes never scored again and fell to the Tigers, 24-17 in OT.
Miami closed out 2007 with four straight losses and had a four-game losing skid in 2006, almost making you wish for back-to-back losses, instead of back-to-back-to-back-to-back.
Everyone knows what this game is all about. It’s Miami and Florida State. These kids grew up playing each other since they were knee-high. The hits in this battle rival those in NFL games. State pride. Bragging rites. An edge in the recruiting war. Blah, blah, blah.
I don’t care about stats and I don’t care that it’s the Noles on the other side of the ball.
I’m sick of the soundbites and this team talking about ‘finishing’ games. If some of these guys blocked and tackled as well as they interviewed, the Canes would be undefeated this season.
Talk is cheap. It’s time to start ‘doing’. This isn’t a must-win game, but there’s no better time for Miami to right the ship, practice what they preach and follow their coaches’ orders.
The Canes lost in Gainesville, but responded two weeks later with a solid outing in College Station. Miami looked renewed and focused when they took the field against Texas A&M. Can they do the same this week?
Did North Carolina rip out Miami’s heart, or does this team have the grit to bounce back and correct the mistakes that cost them an in-the-bag game last week?
For the first time in a long time, Miami has the distinct advantage at quarterback. Marve is the type of player who can step up and win this game, whereas Florida State could flip a coin regarding deciding who is the more mediocre gunslinger, Christian Ponder or D’Vontrey Richardson. Both looked awful against the only good defense they’ve seen all year; Wake Forest. 12 of 36 between the two, for 118 yards and 5 interceptions.
If playing up to par, Miami’s defensive front seven should get to whoever the Noles have behind center. Florida State sports a young, inexperienced line, which should make for turnovers and a short field if the defense of Bill Young can create pressure.
Then again, the Canes’ D was picked apart by a second-stringer at Texas A&M and a third-string from North Carolina. With that inconsistency, for all we know Ponder or Richardson could be in for a career day if Miami doesn’t tighten up.
I like the Canes in this one, behind Marve’s arm and a more concerted all around effort after last week’s loss. Score-wise, we could see ‘vintage’ Miami/Florida State, with a 24-20 or 21-17 type of ending. Defense should set the tone again, but that was the mindset last year before both teams combined for 66 points.
Kickoff it 3:30pm ET and it’ll take everything in this fan to get his juices flowing between now and then. Anyway you slice or dice it, it just doesn’t feel like Miami and Florida State is a day away, and no vintage photos, ESPN Classic games or Michael Irvin super-speeches are going to change that. Not this time.