GAME NOTES: Sunshine State rivals collide at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday
evening, as the second-ranked Florida State Seminoles take on the Miami
Hurricanes in an ACC showdown.
Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles are sitting in the driver’s seat in the ACC Atlantic
Division. The defending national champions haven’t lost since the 2012 season
and ran the nation’s longest win streak to an ACC-record 25 straight games,
with last weekend’s 34-20 win over Virginia. A win in this game or a Clemson
loss to Georgia Tech will clinch the Atlantic Division crown for the 9-0
Seminoles, who are 6-0 in the ACC.
Al Golden’s Hurricanes are bowl eligible thanks to three straight victories.
Miami was idle last weekend following a 47-20 win over North Carolina on Nov.
1. Miami still has an outside shot at the Coastal Division title, although the
Hurricanes will need tons of help. Miami is 3-2 in league play, trailing both
Duke (4-1) and Georgia Tech (5-2) in the division.
Following the UNC win, Golden addressed the team’s strong play of late.
“Obviously, we’ve settled in,” Golden said. “We’ve kind of settled in to who
Miami holds a 31-27 lead in the all-time series with Florida State, although
the Seminoles blew out the Hurricanes last season in Tallahassee, 41-14. FSU
is a perfect 4-0 against Miami with Fisher as head coach.
The Seminoles aren’t putting up the gaudy offensive numbers they did a year
ago en route to the national title, but the team is still getting it done at a
high level, averaging 37.9 ppg on 44.9.8 ypg. The ground game has been stymied
at times, but the passing attack has picked up the slack, averaging a hefty
319.9 yards per game.
Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston is also off his 2013 pace, but is still
completing an impressive 66.7 percent of his passes, for 2,540 yards. However,
his 17 touchdowns against 11 interceptions is a little disappointing.
The player on offense for FSU that is not disappointing is wideout Rashad
Greene. One of the ACC’s best receivers, Green has grabbed 71 balls, for 989
yards and five TDs thus far. He has seven 100-yard performances this season
and is already the school’s all-time leader in receptions (242), while closing
in on school records for receiving yards and touchdowns.
The rushing attack is averaging a modest 129.9 ypg, but tailback Karlos
Williams is a dangerous runner, with 520 yards and nine TDs on the year.
FSU’s defensive numbers are modest as well compared to last year’s stingy
unit. The Seminoles are allowing 22.4 ppg and 374.0 yards of total offense.
Still, there are playmakers at each level. Linebackers Reggie Northrup (team-
high 72 tackles) and Terrance Smith (66 tackles) lead the way in stops. The
secondary is headlined by defensive backs Jalen Ramsey (57 tackles, 7.0 TFL,
2.0 sacks), 1 INT) and P.J. Williams ((38 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT),
while Mario Edwards Jr. (31 tackles, 10.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks) and Eddie Goldman
(28 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks) are difference makers up the field.
The Hurricanes are on a bit of a roll right now, thanks in large part to a
balanced offensive attack that is generating 436.9 yards per game. Miami’s
ground game is strong at 199.3 yards per game, while the passing attack has
been solid at 237.6 yards per game.
Tailback Duke Johnson is one of the ACC’s best. Johnson is averaging 134.8
yards per game and has amassed 1,213 yards and nine TDs thus far. He had 177
yards and three TDs against North Carolina last time out. Already No. 2 in
school history in rushing (3,080), Johnson needs just 252 yards to pass Ottis
Anderson (3,331) for first all-time.
Coach Fisher has high praise for Miami’s dynamic running back.
“He’s as good as anybody we’ve played against,” Fisher said. “You don’t
realize how strong he is. Even though he’s a shorter guy – very strong in his
hips and legs. Very quick body movements, very fast.”
Freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya has played well despite his youth, completing
61.8 percent of his throws, fir 2,087 yards and 20 TDs. The team features
multiple options in the passing game, including tight end Clive Walford (29
rec, 395 yds, 6 TDs), Johnson (21 rec, 273 yds, 2 TDs) and wideout Phillip
Dorsett (19 rec, 572 yds, 6 TDs).
The Miami defense has played well for the most part this season, limiting foes
to just 312.4 yards of total offense, while showing a real penchant for
stopping the pass. The team ranks 10th nationally in pass defense, giving up
just 180.6 yards per game.
Senior linebacker Denzel Perryman is the centerpiece of the Miami defense. One
of the ACC’s top defensive playmakers, Perryman has recorded 72 total tackles,
with 2 sacks, 1 INT and 2 FF. Fellow senior linebacker Thurston Armbrister (42
tackles), has been relentless in his upfield pursuit, with 7.0 TFL and 5.0
sacks, both teams-highs.
This one should be highly entertaining. The Seminoles have been ripe for the
picking the last few outings, but have come out unscathed nonetheless. Miami
is 14-1 in its last 15 home games. If Johnson can get going early, the
Hurricanes have a real shot at the victory, ending FSU’s dominance in-
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 31, Florida State 28