When it comes to the college football rivalries down South, few compare to the Florida State and Miami rivalry, seeing that the history between these two teams goes back so far. Both teams have great history and both have produced some amazing talent that went on to succeed in the NFL.
However, going into this game, there is plenty at stake for both teams, seeing that both Florida State and Miami are undefeated and looking to make their way to a National Championship game if they can. While there is no doubt that both teams should both qualify for a bowl game, neither teams wants to lose their undefeated status. Nonetheless, both teams are capable winning of this game but only if they follow certain keys to victory.
Florida State Seminoles Keys to Victory
The first thing Florida State must do coming into this game as whole is stay humble, I know they are playing some great football right now and they deserve some attention for. However, they must continue to stay hungry and humble on both sides of the ball, to continue having success.
Offensively, the Seminoles needs to stick to what they do best which is running a balance offense. Quarterback Jameis Winston must continue playing consistent football and limit turnovers. I look for him to take advantage of what Miami defense gives him but at the same time remain patient for the big play opportunities. Miami’s defense has shown their inconsistency in containing the passing game when they played Wake Forest, North Carolina and Florida. So Seminoles should look to challenge this Miami defense and see what kind of defensive game plan they have in place. I also hope to see Winston connect with wide receiver Rashad Greene in this game. Together Winston and Greene have quickly become a dynamic duo this season and they will need to connect big in this game as well.
I also look for running back Devonta Freeman to have a huge game in this one. He has played good football so far this season but still seems to fly under the radar. While Freeman always play with a chip on his shoulder, he takes this game even more personal seeing that Miami didn’t recruit him while he was in high school. Going into this game, Freeman is a huge x-factor, he has rushed for 580 yards and six touchdowns so far this season. He is extremely hard to contain because of his ability to break tackles and then he has good speed and agility to make defenders miss in the open field. If he is able to help the Seminoles offense stay balance and keep the defense on their toes about the passing and running game, it could be a long night for the Miami defense.
Defensively, it all starts with getting in quarterback Stephen Morris’s head and the way to do that is to pressure him. Morris hasn’t had the best protection this season which leads to him being pressured often and fortunately for defenses, Morris has a tendency to make bad decisions with the ball when pressured. Florida State defensive line which is led by defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan should look to pressure Morris early, they should be able to alter his rhythm and get him rattled which should help in making the Hurricanes one-dimensional. Also be on the lookout for safety Lamarcus Joyner to have a good game and possibly get an interception especially if Morris continues to throw bad passes when pressured.
Which leads me to my next key, the Florida State defense must also be ready to contain the Hurricanes run game. As I said earlier, if they can contain the passing game, it will allow them to focus more on stopping the run game which is not easy to do considering Miami has running backs Duke Johnson and Dallas Crawford. Together the two have combined for 1,114 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, they are the key to the Miami offense and the Seminoles must contain them. If they can contain the run game, they can control the clock and the pace of the game.
Miami Hurricanes Keys to Victory
To start it off, this team must get off to a good start, seeing that they have a tendency to start off slow which normally puts them in an early hole and they can’t afford to do that against Florida State. If they start off slow they might put themselves in a hole that they can’t get out off, just ask Clemson.
The next key has to do with quarterback Stephen Morris, last game against North Carolina, he threw four interceptions which is unacceptable. While Florida State doesn’t have the best defense in nation, they can still make you pay for turning the ball over and if they don’t you can definitely bet the Florida State offense will make you pay for it. Morris must first receive consistent protection from his offensive line but he also needs to get off to an early start and off to a good rhythm. After that, he should take what the defenses gives him, as I mentioned earlier, Morris has a tendency to force passes and make bad decisions, so he needs to be smart and not turn the ball over. He should look to get the ball out quickly with short and immediate passes and he mainly just needs to be able to keep the offense balance.
Which leads me to running backs Duke Johnson and Dallas Crawford, who are the true keys to this game. Obvious reason is that both Johnson and Crawford have been amazing this season, however by running the ball, Miami is able to dictate the pace of the game and keep Florida State’s high power offense off the field longer which is a huge key to win. That’s the best strategy for this Miami team seeing that they can’t necessarily out-score Florida State. Also keep in mind that Florida State’s defense has improved each game but their run defense is still a weakness for them, so the Hurricanes should look to challenge them. Plus the running game also helps to open up the passing game and Morris needs all the help he can get in this game.
Defensively, is where it gets interesting for the Hurricanes and there is no doubt that the defense will have to step up in this game. Miami defense has had their downs this season but against Florida they were able to force six turnovers and there are capable play-makers on this defense such as Denzel Perryman, Tyriq McCord, Tracy Howard, Antonio Crawford and many more, and they will need each of them in this game. If anything they should do their best to limit the big plays by Florida State because they may not be able to fully contain this Florida State offense, seeing that no else has either. While it won’t be easy, Miami must do their best to bend but not break on defense, if they can force Florida State to settle for a couple of field goals instead of touchdowns, they may have a chance but that’s a big maybe.
In a game between undefeated teams, there is always a winner and loser and in this case, I believe the Florida State Seminoles will be the winner and Miami Hurricanes the loser. I think Florida State’s offense will be too much for Miami’s defense and I don’t think Miami’s offense is capable of winning a shootout with them either. I still expect this to be a good game and while I have no doubt Miami will put up a fight, I eventually think Florida State will pull away and win. Be sure to tune into the Miami Hurricanes as they face-off against the Florida State Seminoles tonight at 8pm (ET) on ABC.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com