Nov. 11, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Throw out the records and throw out the story lines. Throw out the three-game losing streak/four-game winning streak and throw out the offseason scandal.
What has happened in-season and what happened pre-season doesn't matter. For a few hours on Saturday afternoon, it's Florida State and Miami and that's all the description needed for a 60-year rivalry that gets renewed at 3:30 p.m. in Tallahassee.
Because of FSU's fall from the top-25 rankings due to a rough month of September and because of Miami's off-field fall due to an even rougher summer, this year's edition of the rivalry lacks the same national punch and pizzaz of 'Noles versus 'Canes showdowns of the past.
Just don't tell that to those fans that will watch from inside sold-out Doak Campbell Stadium. More importantly, don't tell that to the coaches and players that this season's FSU-Miami game isn't as important as ones from previous years when national championships hung in the balance.
"It's huge," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "There's a ton of respect, and the implications that the game has had in the past have been tremendous. To me it's one of the great not only rivalries of ours but rivalries in college football across the country."
Both FSU (6-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) and Miami (5-4, 3-3) are obviously out of the national title hunt and both are on the outside looking in at a potential spot in next month's league championship game. But Fisher is right; there are still implications for this big game.
To the winner go the bragging rights for the next year -- a coveted commodity in a state that takes its college football very seriously.
For FSU, the implications stretch even further because of what's still to come in the month of November. The 'Noles may have failed to live up to the lofty hype bestowed upon them entering the season but they still have a state championship to defend and will get that chance with games against the Hurricanes and Gators in a span of three weeks.
"We want to win this game for the bragging rights and we want to win this game to continue the tradition around here," said safety Lamarcus Joyner, one of 21 FSU players that attended the same high school as at least one Miami player. "We beat Miami and Florida last year and we want to keep the tradition and the history rolling this Saturday."
To accomplish that feat, the Seminoles must buck a strange but true trend.
Just like subplots can be thrown out for this yearly in-state showdown, so too can conventional wisdom that the home team has an automatic advantage. The last time that the home team did in fact win a game in this series was in 2005 when FSU beat the 'Canes 10-7.
The Hurricanes will run on to Bobby Bowden Field amidst a chorus of boos Saturday but they will do so knowing that since that loss, they have won two consecutive contests in Florida's capitol city.
"I don't know why that is," Fisher said. "We have great respect, and all of them have been very close games. The ones that I've been involved in I know have definitely all been very close games and tough games, so I just think it's two great teams that have a lot of respect for each other but compete very hard against each other, and for some odd reason the road team has made one more play than the home team most of the time."
For Florida State to end this wayward streak, the Seminoles must extend the strong play on both sides of the football that has been on display in four-straight wins -- particularly on defense.
The Seminoles beat up Duke, Maryland, NC State and Boston College in consecutive wins behind a blueprint that revolved around stuffing the run and corralling the quarterback. But that task won't be as easy this week against the improved Jacory Harris and 1,000-yards rusher Lamar Miller.
Stick with Semnoles.com for all your pre-game, in-game and post-game needs. Late Saturday morning be sure to check the front page for the game-day video featuring Seminoles.com's Ryan Pensy and Scott Kotick and then join us for the official live chat during the game.
At game's end, check back for the official recap as well as video interviews with Fisher and key players. Also, follow @BrandonMellor on Twitter for your chance to choose the headline for the recap article.