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Gameday blog: FSU 41, UM 39 (F)

Here's today's live blog from Dolphin Stadium as the Canes and Noles throw it down in the rain...

> UM starts with great field position in the second half at its own 43, but quickly wastes it with a 3-and-out. Marve goes 1-of-3 on the drive for 4 yards. He was 2-of-8 for 6 yards and 1 INT in the first half.
> Miami was outgained 270 to 52 in the first half with FSU picking up 16 first downs to UM's 4.
Um_logo> The Canes catch the break they needed when Antone Smith fumbles the handoff and Adewale Ojomo recovers at the FSU 18. On the next play, Travis Benjamin comes around on a reverse and scores with 13:45 left in the half. FSU 24, UM 10.
The Canes need a stop and simply can't get it. FSU runs the ball right down UM's throat again, scoring a 4-yard run by Antone Smith with 10:50 to play in the third quarter. Freshman Jermaine Thomas highlights the drive with two long runs. FSU 31, UM 10.
Another long return by Travis Benjamin gives UM great field position at the FSU 41. But Miami can only score on a 29-yard field goal by Bosher with 7:42 to play in the quarter. FSU 31, UM 13.
The Canes catch a break first with an FSU holding penalty. Then, they catch another when FSU punter Shawn Powell drops a high snap and then kicks it out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 5:50 left in the third quarter. FSU 31, UM 15.
Here come the Canes. After another nice return by Travis Benjamin to give UM possession at the UM 49, Patrick Nix calls a trick play with a swing pass to Graig Cooper. He then winds up find an open Travis Benjamin for a 51-yard touchdown pass with 5:29 left in the third quarter. We got a ballgame. FSU 31, UM 22.
FSU answers Miami again. Graham Cano drills a 35-yard field goal as time expires in the third quarter. FSU had a chance at a touchdown, but missed it when Ponder's pass to Greg Carr went off his fingertips. FSU 34, UM 22.
Miami tries to answer, but Robert Marve's pass to an open Leonard Hankerson is short and intercepted by Tony Carter at the FSU 2 to kill the drive with just shy of 11 minutes to play.
> And just when you thought this game couldn't get any wilder... Bruce Johnson blitzed Christian Ponder in the end zone, Sean Spence catches the deflection at the five and runs into the end zone for a touchdown to pull UM to within a score with 11:23 to play. FSU 34, UM 29.
Miami needs a stop -- AND FINALLY GETS IT. On third and one, UM linebacker Glenn Cook smacks Antone Smith in the backfield and FSU is forced to punt. Then, it gets wackier, a bad snap hits an upback and after the mess gets sorted out, UM gets possession at the FSU 4 with 9:03 to play.
> The Canes, however, can't cash in with a touchdown. First, an illegal substitution penalty moves UM back yards. A two-yard run by Cooper is followed by an incomplete pass into the end zone to Leonard Hankerson and pass batted at the line of scrimmage by FSU's defense. Bosher then kicks a 24-yard field goal with 8:30 left. FSU 34, UM 32.
> Florida State comes right back answers. Christian Ponder picks up a pair of first downs with his legs and Smith scores on third and goal from the UM 20 when he runs right up the middle with 3:57 left. FSU 41, UM 32.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder. Jason Fox scores a touchdown on a run. You can't make this up. Problem is there are only 14 seconds left. It's onside kick time. FSU 41, UM 39.

> Miami starts freshman Sean Spence in place of Colin McCarthy at weakside linebacker. Freshman Brandon Harris gets his first career start at cornerback in place of Chavez Grant for the Canes as expected.
> Florida State gets a 43-yard kick return by Michael Ray Garvin to open the game Fsu_logoand picks up a first down on sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder's scramble. But Miami kills the drive when Bruce Johnson picks up the Canes' first interception in the secondary this season by fighting off Greg Carr in the end zone for the ball.
> Robert Marve comes out firing on UM's first possession. His first pass is a bomb that falls incomplete. His second pass gets deflected at the line and almost gets picked. His third pass does get intercepted by Tony Carter at the UM 43-yard line. Not a good start for Marve.
> FSU cashes in after a few UM mistakes. So far, it's been a tough day for Brandon Harris. He missed a tackle and then gets called for pass interference in the end zone on third down to give FSU possession at the UM 2. On the next play, Antone Smith scores on a 2-yard run to give FSU the lead with 6:54 left in the first quarter. FSU 7, UM 0.
> Miami's second possession is unspectacular. Graig Cooper gets two carries and no yards. He then catches a screen and goes nowhere on 3rd and 10. Matt Bosher's first punt of the day goes 47 yards.
> The Noles move down the field on their third possession and keep picking on Brandon Harris who misses another tackle on a pass play to Bert Reed that produces a 17-yard gain. Miami's defense though stiffens and stops FSU on fourth down at the UM 36 when Spencer Adkins knocks down Antone Smith in the backfield for a loss.
> Cooper finally gets the Canes' offense moving on drive No. 3. He picks up 10, 5 and then 13 yards and moves the Canes offense down to the FSU 35. But on the next play, Marve gets sacked for a nine-yard loss by Neefy Moffett. On the next play, FSU brings the heat again and Marve escapes before throwing an incompletion. The drive eventually fizzles and Miami pins FSU at its 11-yard line on a punt. Marve is of 1-of-6 so far on the day with 0 yards and 1 INT.
> Florida State is running right through the Canes. Christian Ponder literally runs right through the center of Miami's defense for a 55-yard run before Brandon Harris finally wrestles him down at the UM 27-yard line. Two plays later, Smith runs right up the middle for a 19-yard touchdown run with 10:08 to play. It could be a long day for the Canes. FSU 14, UM 0.
Miami's fourth possession starts like the last one finished -- with the Canes backing up. Derek Nicholson smacks Derron Thomas in the backfield for a 6-yard loss. Miami punts and FSU takes over at its own 23 after a 57-yard punt by Bosher.
> WQAM reports defensive end Eric Moncur has been taken to the locker room with a lower body injury.
> The Noles score again and this is turning into a blowout. Greg Carr hauls in a 15-yard pass from Ponder in front of Bruce Johnson, capping a 9-play, 77-yard drive with 3:24 left. Brandon Harris got flagged for pass interference on the drive to keep it alive. Antone Smith continues to blow past UM's defense on the drive, picking up big chunks. FSU 21, UM 0.
And the big return Randy Shannon predicted from Travis Benjamin finally happens. He takes the ensuing kickoff 59 yards to the FSU 38-yard line before Michael Ray Garvin takes him down. Jacory Harris comes in at quarterback and immediately gets smacked for a 9-yard loss. Two plays later, Florida State gets the ball back when Harris gets pressured and Dekota Watson picked off the pass at the FSU 42-yard line.
> FSU adds three with a 53-yard field goal by Graham Gano with 1:03 to play. Another key play on the drive involves freshman Brandon Harris, who gets beat. FSU 24, UM 0.
> Jacory Harris finally gets Miami's offense on the board. He moves UM downfield with a 20-yard pass to Leonard Hankerson. Moments later, Hankerson had a drop in the end zone. Three plays later, Matt Bosher comes in and kicks a 28-yard field goal as time expires. FSU 24, UM 3.

It's time to throw it down. The Canes and Noles will smash heads this afternoon at Dolphin Stadium at 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast regionally on ABC and ESPN2, which shows you how far this rivalry has fallen in the last few years. Not much. I know some folks say this rivalry doesn't matter anymore. It may not be the best game anymore, but I guarantee you it still will be one of the top two or three rated games of the weekend.

ESPN's Lee Corso said on College Gameday this week these programs will never get back to where they used to be. I disagree. In two years, Miami and FSU could both be ranked in the Top 5 when they meet at Dolphin Stadium again. There are so many young, talented players on both of these teams. I think the worst is in the past for both of these programs.

OK, now that I got that off my chest, its time to get you get ready for kickoff. Before we get to this week's Market Report, here are my keys to the game for a Canes' victory.

1. Take advantage of the youth and inexperience on FSU's offensive line: The depth chart will show you FSU starts three freshman and two sophomores on its front line. But the truth is the Noles have two starters in right guard Rodney Hudson (14 starts) and center Ryan McMahon (16 starts) who aren't pushovers. Both were freshmen All-Americans. Miami has to attack the right guys today -- that's the right side of this line where Will Furlong and Zerbie Sanders are. Not only do the Canes need to do a better job putting pressure on the quarterback. But they also have shut down FSU's running game up the middle. Joe Joseph, Marcus Forston, Dwayne Hendricks and Antonio Dixon have to show up today.

Robert_marve2. Protect Robert Marve: Florida State's run defense is one of the best in the country and I'm expecting them to do a good job slowing down UM's running game, which is already without Javarris James. That means Robert Marve is likely going to have to deliver the big plays on offense today. So far this season, Marve has had plenty of time to throw. I expect FSU to turn up the heat today. The Noles have 13 sacks in four games this season. Remember what Kyle Wright's first start was like? Nine sacks. If Marve feels to much heat, turnovers are bound to happen. Marve is going to get dirty today. He just has to have some time to make plays.

3. Win in the Red Zone: Miami-Florida State games always come down to who best takes advantages of their scoring opportunities. Field position is always huge. But even bigger is what you do with the football when you have a chance to score. So far, Miami has done a great job in the red zone. They've scored 87.5 percent of the time, second best in the ACC. The Canes simply can't afford to have a dropoff today. Defensively, UM has to step up its game. We saw what happened when North Carolina got in the red zone last week. They scored every time. Miami needs at least one or two stops this week.

Buy 'em
> Robert Marve, quarterback: Nobody is going to have a bigger impact on today's game for the Canes than Marve. You could say that for every game. But I really feel he's going to have to shoulder the load today. So far, Miami has shown great balance in its playcalling. Last week, it was an even 33-33 run/pass. I expect UM to have to throw the ball a little more today. And I'm calling for Marve to be the star.
Eric_moncur> Eric Moncur, defensive end: Since coming back from injury and the death of his mother, Moncur has had moments where he's starred. He had the interception against Texas A&M. Last week, he was one of two Canes to have a sack against Carolina. Today, he'll be starting opposite freshman left tackle Andrew Datko, a kid who was on St. Thomas Aquinas' state championship team a year ago. I'm picking Moncur to eat him up and lead UM's defensive charge.

On The Bubble
> Sean Spence, linebacker: Guess who is going to take the majority of the snaps in place of the injured Colin McCarthy. The star freshman has all the hype. Today is his opportunity to back it up. I expect the Noles to come running right at him. If Spence has a good day, UM should have a good day. If he struggles, the Noles could have another huge day on the ground. Spence needs to step up today.
> Tyrone Byrd, right tackle: If FSU is going to come after anyone on Miami's offensive line its Byrd, who will start in place of the injured Reggie Youngblood. Chris Rutledge will also see time at tackle. But today is the day Byrd, a fifth-year senior, has to play his best game as a Cane. If he and Rutledge struggle, it could be a long day for Marve and Miami's offense.
> Brandon Harris, cornerback: According to the depth chart we got today and following what we heard this week from practice, Harris will get his first real start at corner today opposite Bruce Johnson. He's played only nickelback this year. Considering UM's secondary woes, there is going to be a lot of pressure on Harris to have a good day today. And you better believe FSU is going to try and come after him.

Trade 'em in
> Richard Gordon, tight end: Last week, Gordon had two balls thrown his way and he dropped both of them. I'm expecting Chris Zellner and Dedrick Epps to see the majority of snaps today at tight end.

> My prediction -- UM 20, Florida State 19: In traditional UM-FSU fashion, I expect this game to come down to the final moments. Ultimately, I believe Marve will be the difference. I see the Canes coming from behind late to take the lead and then finishing this week to stay above .500. FSU is going to miss a field goal when it matters.

> Now, it's time for your predictions, your stars of the game and keys to the game... Share...