Over the past three-plus decades, the Florida State-Miami rivalry has been one of streaks. Florida State hopes to see that trend continue. The Seminoles snapped a four-game losing streak to Miami last season in Tallahassee in a 31-28 thriller and will now look to win at Hard Rock Stadium for the first time since 2016.
FSU followed up a 4-0 start with a three-game losing streak but got back on track last week with a 41-16 rout of Georgia Tech to improve to 5-3 (3-3 in ACC play). Under first-year head coach Mario Cristobal, things have not gone swimmingly for Miami. The Hurricanes have underachieved thus far but managed to even their record last week to 4-4 (2-2 in conference) with a 14-12 win over Virginia in a game that need four overtime periods to decide.
With a victory, FSU would become bowl eligible for the first time since 2019. Likewise, the Hurricanes would get over .500 for the first time since opening the year with victories over FCS Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss.
Florida State at Miami
When Florida State Has the Ball
For Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis, last season's contest against Miami was a bit of a coming-out party. Travis passed for a then-career-high 274 yards and rushed for two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 26 seconds remaining. This season, Travis has been even better. Fresh off a 396-yard passing effort with three touchdowns, the South Florida native ranks fourth in the ACC in passer rating. Travis is part of a deep backfield that could get leading rusher Treshaun Ward back this week. Ward, Trey Benson, and Lawrance Toafili have different skill sets at tailback but have combined for 1,187 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground this season.
The passing game has been fueled by a pair of newcomers. Johnny Wilson, a 6-foot-7 Arizona State transfer, leads the team with 603 receiving yards. Oregon transfer Mycah Pittman, last season's leading receiver Ontaria Wilson, and tight end Camren McDonald are other solid options in a suddenly deep pass-catching corps. The improved play of the offensive line is another reason for FSU's offensive success this season. The Seminoles lead the ACC in yards per carry and have allowed the fewest sacks in the conference.
The Miami defense is in the middle of the pack statistically in the ACC, but the Hurricanes have held five of their eight opponents to 17 points or fewer. Where Miami has excelled is getting to the quarterback. The Hurricanes don't have an elite pass rusher but have been effective in this department. Their 29 sacks are second in the ACC with eight different players registering at least two. Akheem Mesidor leads the effort with five sacks while Jahfari Harvey, Darrell Jackson Jr., Leonard Taylor, and Nyjalik Kelly all have at least three.
Safety Kamren Kinchens is tied for the ACC lead with three interceptions, and DJ Ivey and James Williams are solid defensive backs in their own right. One area where Miami may have a decided advantage is on special teams. The Hurricanes lead the ACC in kickoff return average, and Key'Shawn Smith is one of just three players in the conference to take one back for a touchdown this season (FSU's Benson also has one). Kicker Andres Borregales and punter Lou Hedley make for a nice duo while Ryan Fitzgerald has had his issues (7-for-12 on field goals) for Florida State this season.
When Miami Has the Ball
It's unclear who Miami will start at quarterback on Saturday. Tyler Van Dyke missed last week's contest at Virginia but hopes to be cleared to return. Van Dyke had a nice game last season against Florida State with 316 passing yards and four touchdowns but he also turned it over three times. If he can't go, freshman Jake Garcia will likely get another start. Garcia hasn't been particularly sharp (2 TDs, 3 INTs), but he has shown the willingness and ability to take shots downfield. In the backfield, Henry Parrish Jr. leads the team with 555 rushing yards. Jaylan Knighton is a dynamic back but he hasn't seen many touches since September.
In the passing game, tight end Will Mallory leads the team with 28 catches and 371 receiving yards, but he has just one touchdown so far. Cobie Young has four, and he, Brashard Smith, and Frank Ladson Jr. all have at least 23 catches and 250 receiving yards. As a team, Miami ranks fourth in the ACC in total offense (423.1 ypg) but just ninth in scoring offense (27.4 ppg).
Florida State's Jermaine Johnson II tormented Miami last season with three sacks and five tackles for a loss. This season, the Hurricanes will have to account for another transfer defensive end. Jared Verse leads the Seminoles with 4.5 sacks, but even when he doesn't make the tackle or sack, he causes havoc. His 11 tackles for a loss lead the ACC. As a team, FSU tallied a season-high 10 tackles for loss in last week's win over Georgia Tech. Getting Fabien Lovett back on the interior of the defensive line was huge for the Noles. Lovett and Robert Cooper make a stout duo and were a big reason why Miami ran for just 43 yards on 23 carries in the team's last meeting.
Safety Jammie Robinson is the top tackler for Florida State with 61 on the season, but he does a lot of things well for a secondary that has quietly been solid. Robinson and Omarion Cooper each had interceptions in last season's win over the Hurricanes. UCF transfer Tatum Bethune has been a welcomed addition to the Seminoles' defense this season and may be the best linebacker on the field on Saturday. The Miami native ranks second on the team with 53 tackles, including eight for a loss. FSU ranks third in the ACC in total defense but hasn't forced a turnover since routing Boston College on Sept. 24.
Getting Van Dyke back would be a huge lift for Miami this week, but even if he isn't able to go, expect a tight contest. Blowouts have been rare in the series between Florida State and Miami. With this one at Hard Rock Stadium, it would be surprising to see the Hurricanes give anything other than a stellar effort. When it's all said and done, however, the Seminoles are the more complete team.
Prediction: Florida State 27, Miami 20
Podcast: A Breakdown of the Auburn Job + Potential Candidates. Complete Week 10 Preview, Predictions, and Picks Against the Spread
— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.
*Price as of publication.