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Gameday blog: UM at FSU

TALLAHASSEE -- The Miami Hurricanes (5-4, 3-3 ACC) take on rival Florida State (6-3, 4-2) at 3:30 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday in what will be the 56th meeting in their storied series. The visiting team has won each of the last five games, but the Seminoles are considered a nine-point favorite coming in.

> ABOUT THE SEMINOLES: Jimbo Fisher's team has won four games in a row since dropping three in a row to Oklahoma, Clemson and Wake Forest. Quarterback EJ Manuel, the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, has played extremely well since coming back from a shoulder injury. He's completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,290 yards and eight touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions over his last five games. The Seminoles are averaging 292 yards passing per game and already have 21 TD passes including 40 pass plays of 13 yards or more. Freshman receiver Rashad Greene (St. Thomas Aquinas), who missed four weeks with an ankle injury, is expected to return this week only bolstering FSU's passing attack. Freshman tailback Devonta Freeman has helped spark the Seminoles running game over the last four games (710 yards). Freeman has run for 2888 yards and five TDs over FSU's four-game win streak. If there is a weakness for FSU, it's offensive line play. The Seminoles have given up 25 sacks this season as they've shuffled players around and dealt with injuries. Defensively, the Seminoles rank third in the country in run defense (78.89 yards per game), fourth in total defense (268.0 yards per game), fifth in sacks (3.33 per game) and 22nd in pass defense. FSU has also forced seven turnovers over their last two games. Punter Shawn Powell is averaging 45.8 yards per punt.

> WHAT TO WATCH FOR THE CANES: The suspension of Ray-Ray Armstrong hurts Miami in the sense it pulls the team's best cornerback -- JoJo Nicolas -- back to safety. Now, Brandon McGee and Mike Williams will be lined up against FSU's dangerous receivers. Not a good equation for UM's porous pass defense. The Hurricanes, shut out from any sacks the last two weeks, will need a big game from its best pass rusher this week in Olivier Vernon. If Vernon can apply pressure on Manuel -- he should be lined up opposite freshman tackle Bobby Hart -- UM may be able to find a way to mess up FSU's offensive rhythm. As good as UM has played on offense this season, this is only the third team they are facing with a consensus Top 40 defense. The return of Jonathan Feliciano should help provide extra support against FSU's pass rush. It will be interesting to see if Seantrel Henderson shifts over to left tackle if Brandon Washington struggles.

> MANNY'S PICK: FSU 34, UM 26. Would love to pick the Canes here and believe they've "turned the corner." But I've been burned too many times by this group. FSU is red-hot, has a dangerous quarterback who can kill you through the air and the ground -- Cane kryptonite. FSU's defense probably isn't as good as advertised. But that won't be enough for Miami. Defense has been the issue all season. In the end, too many explosive plays on pass defense will doom UM. But the Canes will play well and won't fold. If there's any way they've turned the corner in any way, that's what Golden has achieved. This team always fights and scraps. 

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