One of college football's greatest rivalries resumes Saturday when the Miami Hurricanes host the Florida State Seminoles in the 57th meeting of these intrastate rivals. Though the Canes hold a 31-25 series edge, the Seminoles have won the past two match-ups, and UM has not beaten FSU at home since 2004.
FSU was a trendy championship pick before the season began, but their hopes were derailed when the Noles lost on the road to NC State two weeks ago. Both teams badly need a win to stay in the race for the ACC Championship Game, with one conference loss apiece.
"It's the point on the schedule," Miami quarterback Ryan Williams said this week, "that everyone looks for." Florida State comes in ranked twelfth in the AP poll and a 20-point favorite, but anything can happen in a rivalry game.
When Miami has the ball: Of utmost importance to Canes fans is whether QB Stephen Morris can play with a sprained left ankle. He is listed as 'doubtful' on the injury report, though. Head coach Al Golden has said that if Morris can play, he will be on the field.
If he can't, though, redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams will take the reins. He played Miami's final two offensive series last week against North Carolina, but the coaching staff appeared reluctant to ask too much of him, calling short passing plays despite a four-point deficit at the time.
Florida State's defense, meanwhile, is a force to be reckoned with. The Noles are giving up just 11.6 points a game, fourth best in FBS. After some lean years, the FSU defense is stacked with playmakers. DL Cornellius Carradine has 7 sacks and 8 tackles for loss, while fellow lineman Bjoern Werner has 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
When Florida State has the ball: FSU is just as effective on offense as it has been on defense, scoring the sixth-most points per game in FBS on 531 yards per game. The Seminoles can pound it on the ground, with three running backs over 200 yards through the first seven games.
QB EJ Manuel combines elusive running ability (averaging 4 yards a carry) with an efficient passing game (completing 72% of his passes). The Noles have plenty of athletes at the receiver position as well, including deep threat Kelvin Benjamin (averaging 17 yards a catch).
Miami's much-maligned defense showed improvement last week against UNC, but still gave up 272 yards rushing, and it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the Canes reverse its tendency to give up large chunks of yardage on defense.
Who has the edge? There is a reason FSU is favored by double digits. Head coach Jimbo Fisher is a year ahead of Golden in his rebuilding project, and it shows.
The pick: FSU 38-Miami 20
Kickoff is at 8:00 on ABC.