Miami aims for fourth straight win over rival Seminoles
After a statement win at Louisville last week, 12th-ranked Miami Hurricanes will look for a fourth straight victory over their rival Florida State Seminoles on Saturday night when the teams meet at Hard Rock Stadium.
In year No. 2 under head coach Manny Diaz, the Hurricanes are off to a 2-0 start with wins over UAB and Louisville. Last week's 47-34 victory for Miami at Louisville was the first on the road over a ranked team since the infamous seven-lateral game against Duke on Halloween 2015.
Florida State suffered an unthinkable loss to Georgia Tech at home in the opener and will be without first-year head coach Mike Norvell as the Seminoles make the trip south this week. Norvell tested positive for COVID-19 and will not travel with the team. FSU looks to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2017.
Prior to last season's 27-10 romp for the Hurricanes in Tallahassee, the previous five games in the series had been decided by five points or less. In the last meeting at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami overcame an early 20-point deficit for a thrilling 28-27 win. That was the largest lead ever blown by the Seminoles.
Florida State at Miami
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Miami -11
When Miami Has the Ball
After playing musical quarterbacks with regularity over the last couple of seasons, Miami has finally found its guy in Houston transfer D'Eriq King. Last week, King passed for 325 yards and three scores in the win at Louisville but may actually be more dangerous with his legs. The offensive line is likely Miami's weakest link, but the Hurricanes have no shortage of talent at the skill positions.
Cam'Ron Harris has paced a ground attack that ranks 12th nationally in rushing yards per game and seventh in yards per rush. Freshman Jaylan Knighton is a nice change-of-pace back. He has more than 140 yards of total offense and two touchdowns in two games. Tight end Brevin Jordan is the team's leading receiver and one of the nation's best at his position.
Although it gave up just 16 points to Georgia Tech in the opener, the Florida State defense did not perform all that well. The Seminoles should be a bit healthier this week with the return of Florida Atlantic transfer Meiko Dotson and last season's leading tackler Hamsah Nasirildeen returning to the secondary. As a member of the Owls, Dotson led the nation with nine interceptions last season. He'll play opposite junior Asante Samuel Jr., who recorded a pair of picks in the opener for FSU.
The defensive line should be the strength for FSU with Marvin Wilson and Cory Durden anchoring the middle. In the opener, however, FSU did not generate much of a pass rush. Defensive end Joshua Kaindoh is questionable for Saturday. The Seminoles will need a big game from redshirt senior end Janarius Robinson to be successful on defense.
When Florida State Has the Ball
In his fourth season with as many offensive coordinators, quarterback James Blackman has continually struggled for FSU. After a strong start, Blackman crumbled down the stretch against Georgia Tech in the opener. As a true freshman in 2017, however, Blackman threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns and nearly rallied FSU past Miami. When it comes to the ground attack, FSU struggles. The Seminoles are still weak on the offensive line and have yet to find a way to replace Cam Akers.
Out wide, the name to know for FSU is Tamorrion Terry. Terry became the first Florida State receiver since Rashad Greene to eclipse 1,000 yards last season but has been held in check in two meetings against Miami. Warren Thompson, Keyshawn Helton, Ontaria Wilson, and tight end Camren McDonald are nice complementary pieces.
Led by Temple transfer Quincy Roche, the strength of the Miami defense is up front. The Hurricanes have tallied 18 tackles for a loss through two games. Other names to know include Nesta Jade Silvera and UCLA transfer Jaelan Phillips. At linebacker, Zach McCloud is the experienced leader of the group, but Bradley Jennings Jr. is an excellent blitzer. In last season's meeting, Miami came away with nine sacks against the Seminoles. Gregory Rousseau, who had four of those, has opted out of the 2020 season.
The Hurricanes are also physical and athletic in the secondary. Despite allowing more than 500 yards to Louisville last week, Miami came away with three takeaways. At safety, Bubba Bolden and Amari Carter are both big hitters. Legacy Al Blades Jr. came away with his first interception of the season last week. In case the transfer market wasn't kind enough to Miami on offense and defense, kicker Jose Borregales could play a major factor on Saturday. He's 5-for-5 on field goals this season with a long of 57 yards.
For Florida State to emerge victorious, it will need some turnover luck or to maybe find a way to score on defense or special teams. When all is said and done, Miami is superior in most aspects of the game, including at quarterback and up front. The Hurricanes also probably have better skill players and this contest is at home.
Prediction: Miami 38, Florida State 17
Podcast: The SEC is Back Too & Week 4 Preview
— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.