There is no doubt that the rivalry between the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles, one of the preeminent rivalries in all of college football, has lost some luster in recent years. That has trickled into this year, where the Canes and Noles enter this weekend’s clash with the same 4-4 record. While this rivalry hasn’t had serious national title implications like it did from the 80’s to the early 2000’s, there is still something special about Miami and FSU playing each other.
The Canes, who had been tormented by their bitter rival for most of the 2010’s, have started to turn the tide in this rivalry. After FSU rattled off seven straight wins in the series from 2009-2016, the Canes have responded by beating the Noles in both 2017 and 2018. Last year’s meeting was an all-time classic, as the Seminoles were up 27-7 in the second half, before the Canes roared back to win 28-27. The Canes, who lead the all-time series 33-30, will look to have their longest winning streak against FSU since 2004 by taking down the Noles on Saturday afternoon.
As mentioned before, this season hasn’t been the finest hour for either team, and both squads will look to use this rivalry as a springboard for the rest of the season. The Canes enter this contest at (4-4, 2-3), coming off a season-saving 16-12 win against Pitt. UM kept their slim hopes of winning the unpredictable ACC Coastal alive with that win.
The Canes only managed two scoring drives with N’kosi Perry at quarterback, which preempted the switch to Jarren Williams late in the game. Williams guided Miami on a game-winning drive, which ended with a 32-yard strike to KJ Osborn for the dagger.
As a result, Coach Manny Diaz named Williams the starter for Saturday’s game. The redshirt freshman began the year as the Canes QB1, as he started the first five games of the year. Williams completed 69.6% of his passes for 1,136 yards and eight touchdowns. However, Williams also threw three interceptions, which all came in the first quarter against Virginia Tech. Williams will certainly look to continue where he started off the season.
Some members of FSU’s defense determined to make life hard on Williams are DB Hamsah Nasirildeen and DT Marvin Wilson. Nasirildeen leads FSU in tackles (58), while Wilson leads the Noles in sacks (5).
The good news is Williams is getting back some reinforcements on offense. RB Deejay Dallas (injury), and WR Jeff Thomas (2 game suspension) are back for the Hurricanes, which is good news for an offense that is ranked 84th in the country for total offense, and in desperate need of a spark. Dallas has been Miami’s work horse running back all season, as he’s rushed for 486 yards and six touchdowns. Thomas has been disappointing from a production standpoint, as he’s recorded 270 yards and two touchdowns in 2019.
Another key player that the Hurricanes are getting back from injury is senior LB Michael Pinckney. Pinckney is fourth on the team in tackles (38), and the Canes will gladly have him back, even if they managed to excel without him last week. Miami’s defense held Pitt to only 12 points (zero touchdowns) last Saturday, in addition to forcing three Pitt turnovers.
The Canes, who have been inconsistent at times on defense this year, will look to bring their A game against the Noles. DE Greg Rousseau will no doubt help the Canes defense, as the redshirt freshman has been a revelation for Miami this year. Rousseau leads the team with eight sacks, and stunningly didn’t start until midway through the season.
Rousseau leads the ACC in sacks, and he will look to wreak havoc on whoever starts for FSU at quarterback. Right now that appears to be Alex Hornibrook. The Noles have rotated between James Blackman and Hornibrook, but Hornibrook got the start last weekend in FSU’s 35-17 win over Syracuse.
The graduate transfer from Wisconsin went 15-26 for 196 yards and no touchdowns, but he didn’t throw any interceptions either. On the year, Hornibrook has completed 68.4% of his passes for 851 yards, six touchdowns, and he has one interception as well. The senior has some history with Miami, as he started the 2017 Orange Bowl for Wisconsin. In that game, he went 23-34 for 258 yards and four touchdowns. Miami will look to make sure that performance isn’t replicated on Saturday.
Complementing Hornibrook on offense is dynamic running back Cam Akers, whose had a resurgent season for the Noles. Akers has run for 917 yards and 12 touchdowns, and that will probably scare some Miami fans who have flashbacks of Dalvin Cook dominating the Canes a few years back. Another major threat for FSU’s offense is WR Tamorrion Terry, who has posted 606 yards and six touchdowns this year.
Overall, the Miami-FSU book is filled with many enthralling chapters, and hopefully another fascinating chapter is added to that story on Saturday afternoon.