No matter who you are, you’re always trying to see how you compare when matched up against your rival. For Miami, that rival is obviously Florida State. While this matchup hasn’t had top-10 battles over the last few years like times of old, the game still matters a whole lot. Mike Rumph said it best, ”coming in as a Hurricane, you know your number one objective is to beat the Florida State Seminoles.”
This series has been up-and-down since the turn of the century, with each team winning one year and then holding onto the series for the next several seasons. Miami dominated FSU in the early 2000’s, winning six straight up until 2005. Then, the Seminoles rattled off seven consecutive victories from 2010 to 2016.
Now, the Hurricanes have won the last two meetings, so let’s dive into this rivalry and take a glance at where each program is at currently.
2018 wasn’t the year that neither Miami nor Florida State had in mind. Both were ranked in the top-25 before the season started, but both fell, hard. The Canes stumbled to a 7-6 season, were blown out in their bowl game, and ultimately led to the retiring of head coach Mark Richt.
FSU on the other hand, surprisingly was even worse. Under new head coach Willie Taggart, the Noles went 5-7, their first losing record since 1976, and missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 1981.
However, since 2018 ended, the two schools have been heading in opposite directions. Led by their fiery new head coach Manny Diaz, Miami has a renewed sense of confidence. They brought back star receiver Jeff Thomas, and owned the transfer portal by adding players such as Tate Martell and Trevon Hill, among others. While they finished just 28th nationally recruiting, the players they were able to sign late whether it be recruits or from the portal, has the UM program feeling anew.
Let’s now take a look at Tallahassee. Since their 2018 season ended, more criticism of coach Taggart has come, and there’s just a different feeling up north, and not in a good way. Finishing 11th in the recruiting rankings in 2018, FSU slipped down to 19th in 2019, including having highly-touted stars like Nick Cross and Sam Howell de-commit late in the process. Though, Taggart did hire a new offensive coordinator, Kendal Briles from Houston.
Now I'm not saying that Miami didn’t have their fair shares of de-commits either, I mean it wasn’t fun seeing Anthony Solomon and Marcus Crowley wave goodbye.
With that being said, let us again look at the situation going down on Stadium Drive in the capital city of Florida. FSU lost two critical players so far this offseason. First, quarterback Deondre Francois was dismissed from the team in February, and recently decided to walk-on to FAU. Also, Noles best offensive lineman Landon Dickerson entered the transfer portal, then came back out, and now is back in the portal.
One of the worst offensive lines in the nations gets worse after projected starter Landon Dickerson enters his name into the transfer portal for the second time in months! pic.twitter.com/P1y53f5er5— FSU’S WORST (@FsuWorst) May 25, 2019
For this upcoming season, FSU will likely start the year with James Blackman, who showed promise in 2017 filling in for Francois. Though, it doesn’t help Blackman seeing that he’s as skinny as a pencil out there.
James Blackman right now pic.twitter.com/nsZJngED0g— Wesley2439 (@Gogata1354) May 22, 2019
FSU is also still awaiting whether or not Louisville transfer QB Jordan Travis is eligible for 2019. And don't forget, the Noles still have running back Cam Akers, whose proven that he can be one of the best in the country. They also have a deep receiving core, and playmakers on their defense. A 10-win season for Taggart and the funky bunch isn’t totally crazy.
Again, I'm not here to bash on the Seminoles, because in all honestly, and I think most people will agree with me on this, football is more fun when both Miami and FSU are good, and it’s one of the best rivalries in the nation. I’m simply analyzing the Noles and seeing how the Canes match up with them going into 2019.
Even with the programs going in opposite ways so far in 2019, FSU opened up as favorites against the Hurricanes when Miami comes to town November 2nd. I know that Canes fans will look at this game and deem it preposterous to even think Miami could lose, these are the fans that make me shake my head. When has Florida State ever, since 2001, ever been an easy win for the Hurricanes?
2019 is a big year, a momentum swinging year for the Canes when it comes to their rivalry with Florida State. Sure, Miami has won the last two matchups, but the Noles are just six years removed from their last title, and it wasn’t even three years ago when they won the Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes haven’t won a championship going on 16 years, and have just one bowl victory since 2006, and no ACC titles, while FSU has won the ACC three times since 2012. A third straight win over the Noles, in Tallahassee, with a new coach, could turn the tide directly in Miami’s favor.
While UM currently holds the fourth ranked recruiting class for 2020, FSU is right behind them sitting at eighth. A win over their rivals in Tallahassee for a third straight year would give the Canes much more breathing room, in terms of recruiting, and also with having the upper hand over the Seminoles.