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A Forgotten Classic: 2007 Miami vs. FSU

Expect the 2019 Rendition of Miami-FSU to Resemble 2007

Miami vs. Florida State Photo by Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

On October 20, 2007, the Randy Shannon’s Miami Hurricanes traveled to Doak Campbell Stadium to take on Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles. Like the upcoming matchup, the game kicked off at 3:30 pm and had little implication for both the ACC and National stage, but was a college football game for the ages!

Miami entered the game at a mediocre 4-3, with a blowout loss to Oklahoma, close loss to UNC after trailing at half 27-0 (2019 VT anyone?), and home win on a Thursday night against an over-ranked Texas A&M team (2019 Virginia?). FSU was 4-2 with wins over UAB, Colorado, Alabama (boy, times have changed!), and NC State, but a close loss to Clemson (okay, maybe this is not like 2019) to open the season and another loss the week before at Wake Forest (just like 2019). With both teams middling in their respective divisions, the 2007 game was played mid-day.

The parallels between the 2007 game and the upcoming 2019 version are numerous:

  • Consider that in 2007, Randy Shannon—like Manny Diaz in 2019—was also in his first season as head coach after a prolific tenure as DC.
  • Shannon’s 2007 Canes were not unlike the current team: in fact they are almost a mirror image: the 2007 Canes featured an anemic offense, led by Pat Nix, that could not sustain drives or move the ball with any consistency. The 2019 Miami offense, while more talented across the board (Louis Hedley is not taking practice reps at WR), is similarly plodding and inconsistent but is overall better. For the offensive proclivity across college football in 2019 however, I would have to say the 2007 and 2019 are more or less the same relative to other teams.
  • Like the 2019 version, Shannon’s 2007 team no longer had an elite defense. Tim Walton in 2007 was out-schemed (slow TE cross) just as Blake Baker has been many times in 2019 (4th and 17 blitz from Tallahassee). While Miami had elite defenses under their now head coaches in 2006 and 2018 respectively, the units fell off the following year. Similarly, Miami lost many defensive contributors after 2006 and 2018 respectively and replaced them with slower and less-athletic players.
  • Both versions of Miami featured a superstar DE: Calais Campbell 2007 and Gregory Rousseau in 2019.
  • In 2007, Miami kept flip-flopping between under-performing Qbs, just as they have in 2019. I am not hear to tell you that Kirby Freeman and Kyle Wright were better than the incumbent N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams, but just as in 2019, Miami had no solidified starter at the most important position. While Miami’s OL was better in 2007 (and every other year in school history), Miami struggled immensely with consistency in the passing game in 2007. This season, both N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams have had their moments—good and bad.
  • 2007 Miami struggled with the kicking game, but probably not to the extent that the 2019 variety has.
  • Like Miami, FSU was in disarray under its lame-duck head coach, Bobby Bowden, who would be forced to retire shortly. After years of mediocrity, FSU was no longer the program it had been before 2000. Sound familiar? Willie Taggart is similarly a dead man walking at this point and will most likely be fired very soon, much to the chagrin of Miami and Florida fans.

The Game

FSU lit the board first with a field goal, but Miami answered back with a touchdown of its own, taking a 7-3 lead on a seven play drive, which was capped off by a Kyle Wright QB sneak that resulted in a touchdown. The next possession, an opportunistic Miami recovered a FSU fumble deep inside FSU territory and Miami running back, Graig Cooper was able to score a touchdown the following play, putting Miami ahead 14-3.

After answering Miami with an offensive touchdown of its own to make the score 14-10 Miami, FSU’s Toddrick Verdell intercepted Kyle Wright and ran it back for a touchdown, giving the Noles a 17-14 lead.

Over the next two quarters, the game was a back and forth tussle, but FSU accrued a 23-17 lead by the beginning of the third quarter. Miami’s starting QB, Kyle Wright, was knocked out of the game in the second quarter, leaving Kirby Freeman as Miami’s quarterback.

Miami was dominated for most of the game, yet took a 24-23 lead on a gutsy fake field goal pass play that resulted in a touchdown, in the middle of the third quarter. Over the next seven minutes of game time, FSU notched two field goals, giving the Noles a 29-24 lead.

Kirby Freeman, who was 1-8 with two interceptions, then orchestrated a perfect touchdown drive that seemingly came out of nowhere, capped off by a 13 yard touchdown pass to tight end, Dedrick Epps. With 1:15 to go, Miami had a 30-29 lead. Miami iced the game when Teraz McCray stripped the ball from Xavier Lee with a minute remaining, forcing a fumble that Miami’s Colin McCarthy scooped up and returned for a TD!

The 2007 game was a sloppy affair from the start and FSU had five turnovers, while Miami had an abysmal four. Kyle Wright was Miami’s leading passer with a stat-line that reads like a horror movie: 6-10 for 88 yards and 1 int that went for a touchdown! Kirby Freeman, who played most of the game, went 4-11 for 59 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions—which gave him a 4.7 QBR!

Xavier Lee for Florida State was arguably worse than the Miami QBs, going 14-32 for 208 yards, but 2 ints, a fumble that went for a touchdown, and only one rushing td. Miami miraculously won the game 37-29 (scoring 27 points in 31 seconds of game time), which was a bright spot in an otherwise disastrous season.

You can watch the entire 2007 game in all its glory here: