Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium, a sellout crowd and national TV audience will watch the 13th-ranked Hurricanes and 23rd-ranked Seminoles renew their rivalry. So, who is going to win? I don't know. But I have a feeling its going to come down to the wire -- just like the last three meetings have.
Here is a breakdown of who owns the edge on paper...
WHEN THE HURRICANES RUN THE BALL
> Damien Berry is averaging 4.9 yards a carry and Mike James is averaging 5.1 a carry. But the Hurricanes running game ranks 77th nationally (136.5 yards a game) and probably will not have its biggest home run threat in speedy redshirt freshman Lamar Miller (right shoulder). Graig Cooper, UM's leading rusher each of the last three seasons, is being listed by the team as probable after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. But how much Cooper will really be able to help remains to be seen.
> The Seminoles have only given up more than 100 yards on the ground once this season (103 on 43 rushes by Wake Forest) and held sixth-ranked Oklahoma to 93 yards rushing on 41 attempts. FSU's run defense, led by linebacker Nigel Bradham, is ranked fourth in the country (74.8 yards per game) and ranks second behind UM in tackles for loss. UM true freshman Seantrel Henderson and redshirt freshman Jermaine Johnson are still working out the kinks at right tackle.
> Edge: Florida State.
WHEN THE SEMINOLES RUN THE BALL
> Florida State has run for over 200 yards in each of its last three games and owns the nation's 26th best rushing attack averaging 208.6 yards per game. Junior Jermaine Thomas (5-11, 192), junior Ty Jones (5-10, 210) and sophomore Chris Thompson (5-8, 185) have each broken off runs of 50 yards or more this season and are averaging 6.3, 7.9 and 7.7 yards a carry respectively. Jones, who is returning from an ankle injury, could be limited Saturday.
> The Hurricanes' run defense will be the toughest the Seminoles have faced so far this year -- ranking 43rd nationally and fourth best in the ACC (Oklahoma ranks 80th in run defense)> The Canes also lead the country in tackles for loss (10.5). But UM has been prone to giving up a few long runs this season. Ohio State's Terrell Pryor had his moments scrambling for big gains and last week Clemson's Andre Ellington ripped off a 71-yard touchdown run. If the Canes can prevent those long runs they can swing this category their way. But for now...
> Edge: Florida State.
WHEN THE HURRICANES PASS THE BALL
> Jacory Harris has thrown 25 interceptions over his last 17 games as a starter -- including eight in his first four games this season. But he's also been very productive, tossing 34 touchdowns and averaging over 250 yards a game over the same span. Few receivers in the ACC have been as productive Leonard Hankerson (23 catches, 388 yards, 6 TDs) and few have burned FSU quite as often as Travis Benjamin, who plays his best against the Seminoles.
> FSU will counter with a stout pass rush. The Seminoles lead the nation with 25 sacks including 20 over their last three games. FSU's pass defense has improved since being scorched at Oklahoma (394 yards, 4 TDs) giving up an average of only 159 yards a game while producing four interceptions and allowing only three touchdowns through the air. But as talented as sophomore cornerback Greg Reid is, the rest of FSU's secondary is young and the Seminoles rank 60th nationally in pass efficiency defense. The Canes have also only given up six sacks in their first four games.
> Edge: Miami.
WHEN THE SEMINOLES PASS THE BALL
> Three-year starter Christian Ponder has enjoyed some big games against UM in the past. This season, he's averaging 168.8 yards passing and has eight touchdown tosses against only three interceptions. Receiver Bert Reed (28-251-1 TD) has been a steady and consistent short-yardage target. But FSU's offense hasn't been able to get the vertical game going much in part because of an offensive line that has given up 11 sacks in five games. The return of three-year starting left tackle Andrew Datko (shoulder) will help Saturday.
> But the Hurricanes are is good as anyone in the country at shutting down opposing passing games. UM ranks second nationally in sacks (17 total), No. 2 in pass efficiency defense and has five interceptions in their last two games.
> Edge: Miami.
> The Hurricanes have All-ACC kicker/punter Matt Bosher, who is one of the best in the country, and are one of only two teams (USC is the other) to score on a kickoff and a punt return this season. But in terms of kickoff and punt coverage units, FSU has done a better job statistically this season than UM. Where the Seminoles struggle is on kickoff returns, where they rank last nationally and UM ranks 22nd (averaging 25.2 yards a return). But FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins has 19 touchbacks on 33 kickoffs compared to Bosher's four touchbacks on 25 kickoffs this season. Hopkins has also made 16 of his last 20 field goal attempts. Greg Reid, who led the nation last season in punt returns, has already taken one back for a touchdown this season. UM has had a field goal and extra point blocked this season. FSU blocked a punt in its season opener versus Samford.
> Edge: Florida State