Things couldn’t look more in place for the average fan to say this is the year that Miami finally ends the seven year drought to Florida State. Well at least that how it appears. However, this is still a Jimbo Fisher led team and under his tenure Florida State has never lost more than four games. On top of that the team is composed with elite talent, according to Rivals.com, the last three recruiting classes have been top five minimum. So despite the early struggles this is a more than capable Florida State team that could continue the streak, after all the Wide Rights in this rivalry’s history is that out of the equation?
Florida State Advantages over Miami
Wide Receiver Core
An underutilized part of Florida State’s offense this year has been the wide receiver group. Due to the injury to Deondre Francois and the blocking, or lack thereof from the offensive line hasn’t allowed freshman James Blackman to find them consistently. Nyqwan Murray was supposed to become have a breakout season after having a two touchdown 104 yard performance against Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Currently he has yet to surpass 100 yards on the season and hasn’t yet scored a touchdown.
The other big key to the Seminoles passing attack is the biggest mismatch on the roster, Auden Tate. At 6’5 225 pounds he has the height and the size to high point passes in the red zone and box out defenders. With that size he also has very good speed and does a great job of separating from defensive backs as witnessed on the game winning touchdown against Wake Forest last week. He is a hard matchup for any team, let alone Miami whose best cover corner is under six foot tall.
Aguayo Brother #2
Following in his older brothers footsteps Ricky Aguayo was the kicker from day one of his arrival at Florida State and has been very solid. Like many games before, if this comes down to the final kick for the win, Florida State is in good shape. He has shown that pressure won’t bother him, going six for six in his debut last season against Ole Miss.
Florida State Secondary
After watching Ahmon Richards come back for his first game against Duke and scorch them for 106 yards on just three receptions, pretty sure Florida State will allow it’s All-American Tavarus McFadden follow Richards every play. Allowing it’s best cover corner to shadow the Hurricane’s biggest threat also frees up another weapon in Florida State’s secondary, Derwin James. Other than Brian Burns, there may not be a better pass rusher on the Seminoles roster and with his versatility the Seminole’s have the luxury of lining him up anywhere and blitzing.
Miami Advantages over Florida State
Going into the season, the quarterback position was supposed to be a big concern for the Hurricanes, but Malik Rosier has turned out to be arguably the biggest bright spot for Miami. The last couple games in this rivalry, Brad Kayaa had success throwing against Florida State. What he lacked was the speed to get outside of the pocket and extend plays. Rosier possesses that ability. That allows the Hurricanes to have longer drives and the ability to get down the field quickly if everyone is covered.
Miami’s Defensive line vs. FSU Offensive line
The biggest advantage in this game is found right inside the trenches with a group that is currently thriving while the other is struggling. Last season many wondered how did Francois continued to get back up after the hits that Miami’s defensive line was able to put on him, at 169 pounds James Blackman is not built to take that kind of punishment.
Defensive lineman Richard McIntosh and Joe Jackson both are coming off of strong performances where they were constantly laying hits on Duke before the play could even get started. To make matters worse the Florida State offensive line is dealing with injuries on an offensive line that was already bad this season. That fares bad for tailbacks Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick, without a consistent run game it will be tough for Blackman to have any time to find his wideouts on third downs.
More than bragging rights are on the line for Mark Richt. Does he have the ability to go to the same recruits that Florida State covets and say things are truly changing at Miami. Although the streak started before his tenure, it’s been hung over Miami’s head on recruiting trails. South Florida prospects that Florida State is interested in get spun tails about the direction of Miami football. A win not only legitimizes Miami being back in the big picture, but that they will be for a long time under Richt. The implications from this rivalry game could deeply affect recruiting. With an early signing day period, it’s much needed. The momentum from this game also helps Miami remain undefeated. It possibly pushes them into the top 10 against ACC competition on the horizon.