Record: 7-0 (3-0 ACC)
Head Coach: Al Golden
All-Time: UM leads 31-26
Overview: The Miami Hurricanes enter Saturday's game looking to prove their legitimacy to the college football world. After requiring game-clinching drives late in the fourth quarter to get by fairly average UNC and Wake Forest teams the past two games, some of the luster has been knocked off the 'Canes 7-0 record.
That win against Florida back on September 7th? That's not so impressive anymore. That 22-point spread? Biggest of all-time between top 10 teams this late in the season. Add in the fact that the Hurricanes haven't beaten Jimbo Fisher since he took over as the head coach of Florida State and Miami has no shortage of things to prove. Unfortunately motivating factors don't really amount to wins, talent does. And Miami is better than many given them credit for in that department, but still lacks depth a several key areas -- and that could become a factor.
Along the offensive line and at running back the Hurricanes are solid. Duke Johnson is one of the most dynamic players in the country and the Hurricanes are more than capable of opening holes for him. Even against a defense as talented as Florida State's, Johnson should still have a little bit of room. That will be the key if Miami wants to upset FSU. They will need to run the ball, control the clock and keep Jameis Winston and the Seminole offense off the field. The James Coley connection, emotion and all of the other non-football factors don't matter one iota if Miami can't run the ball on Florida State.
How FSU Stacks Up: Miami has plenty of speed on the field on offense and Stephen Morris has a big arm, but has also struggled at times with accuracy and interceptions. Florida State is going to make Morris be the one to beat them on Saturday.
Duke Johnson is talented and he will have an impact, but FSU is likely to try and bring an extra defender or two into the box to try and contain him until Morris proves he can exploit one-on-one matchups to his advantage. If the Seminole corners can lock up the Hurricanes' receivers with man coverage Miami could really be in trouble.
A lot of people have pointed out that FSU may not have seen speed like Miami's. That may be true for other opponents the Hurricanes have faced, not Florida State. Clemson and the receivers FSU's defense goes up against when the team goes ones-vs-ones every day in practice will have Florida State's corners more than prepared for the type of giddy-up they'll see on Saturday. Keep in mind Florida State has the number one ranked pass defense in the country and their overall defensive rank (8th) would be higher if not for the fact the starters have only played a full game once all year -- at Boston College.
Frankly, Miami would do well to emulate the Eagles approach tomorrow night, because the Canes' best defense against FSU's potent offensive attack may be a ball-control offense. If Jameis Winston can't get into a rhythm and UM can shrink the number of possessions, they have a chance to disrupt Jimbo Fisher's offense. When Winston gets the ball back quickly though -- he's deadly. NC State found that out the hard way when FSU lit them up for 35 points in 13 minutes due largely to turnovers and three-and-outs.
Special teams will be key on Saturday too. Miami has an edge at punter though FSU may have the edge at placekicker -- Roberto Aguayo hasn't missed a kick all year. Just like in past years this game could turn on a big special teams play.
Three to Watch:
Stephen Morris, QB -- UM's senior quarterback will be the key for them on Saturday. If he has success throwing the ball early it should open up some space for Duke Johnson to run. If not, that box will get awfully crowded.
Duke Johnson, RB -- The most dynamic player on the Hurricanes offense can score a multitude of ways and will need to do so for Miami to pull off the upset tomorrow night.
Denzel Perryman, LB -- One of the 'Canes most talented defenders, UM needs him to have a big night.
Quote of the Week: "I know the talent level they have down there and I’ve been telling folks all along that, ‘hey, we’re going to find out just how really good we are when we play Miami,’ when we play those Hurricanes because they’re hungry. We’ve been taking them out the past few years and they see this as the perfect time to put it all together and dethrone us from the roll that we’re on right now."
-Willie Jones Sr.
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