Losing a game, losing an argument, losing your phone, losing your train of thought – all those things can stick in a person’s craw.
As bad as losing is, taking an L to a rival always adds extra spice.
The University of Miami has had to swallow seven straight losses to their bitter rivals to the north – the Florida State Seminoles.
Miami senior and leading receiver this season Braxton Berrios called it “inexcusable”. Redshirt junior quarterback Malik Rosier said UM’s not beating FSU in seven years was “bothersome”.
However, the No. 13 Hurricanes are hoping this year will be the year that enough is enough and they finally get the best of FSU when they take on the unranked Seminoles in what will be the 62nd meeting between the teams Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Miami leads the series all-time 31-30.
The game, which was rescheduled to October 7th from September 16th due to the impact of Hurricane Irma on the state of Florida, will kick off at 3:30 p.m. School officials were monitoring a tropical depression that was projected to roll through northern Florida this weekend and flirted with the idea of changing the time of the game, but both programs agreed to stay with the afternoon game, which will be broadcast on ESPN.
UM’s Best Shot
Miami (3-0, 1-0 ACC) rolls into this game with a good deal of momentum. The Canes, ranked No. 13 in the latest AP poll and No. 12 in the Amway Coaches poll, finally put on the type of defensive performance that everyone had been expecting in their 31-6 win over Duke this past Friday.
On the other hand, Florida State is limping into this year’s showdown. Since their season-opening loss to Alabama, a lot has gone wrong for the Seminoles (1-2, 1-1). They lost starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the season against the Crimson Tide and followed that up by losing to N.C. State at home.
Even in FSU’s lone win this season – a 26-19 win over Wake Forest – the Noles had to rally back while allowing freshman quarterback James Blackman to be sacked five times and yielding 17 tackles for loss.
Because of FSU’s struggles, 2017 will be the first time in 34 years that Miami will enter this game as the only ranked team. The last time it happened (1983), UM not only defeated the Seminoles but it also went on to win a national championship.
While no one is calling for Miami to crash the championship party this year, it would seem – on paper – that this is the Hurricanes’ best shot to take down Florida State.
Sophomore defensive end Joe Jackson was one of many Canes to express their displeasure with Miami’s losing streak this week.
“Obviously there has been a streak and we are looking to stop that streak…that’s the main thing,” Jackson said. “Although they’re just another opponent, it’s still a big game because that streak has been going on and we are trying to stop that streak. That victory is going to be so much better when you stop that streak.”
Jackson was 13 years old the last time Miami beat Florida State.
The feelings run deeper for veterans like Rosier and Berrios, who have seen Miami come very close to beating FSU the past couple of years but still come up short.
“They’re a great team. If you watch them they make great adjustments in the second half and that’s what they’re known for. For us, it’s about finishing the first half and especially finishing the second. Coming out there and not relaxing,” Rosier said.
“It is inexcusable to have lost to them seven straight times and especially the ways we’ve lost and how close most of the games have been. At least when I was here,” Berrios said. “We’ve lead in every single fourth quarter and so in one word it’s inexcusable.”
For Miami head coach Mark Richt, who spent time as an assistant coach at Florida State from 1985 to 1988 and again from 1990 to 2000 – helping the Seminoles to a pair of national titles and a 6-5 record over UM in that span, said that the team’s goal this season isn’t to simply get the best of Jimbo Fisher and Florida State.
“The bottom line is we’re trying to win the Coastal [Division],” Richt told reporters Tuesday. “This game counts. When you have your goals set, your goal is to end up In Charlotte and play for the ACC Championship Game and win it. That’s what you set your sights on. But in order to do it, you have to have the best record in the league. This league game and that means a lot from the get-go. But we all know that it’s a rival game. There’s a reason we play them every year – it’s a rivalry. Rivalry games are important. They’re better rivalries when there’s some winning and losing on both sides, and that hasn’t happened lately.”
Moten Questionable, Walton Will Play
The Hurricanes released their injury report for Saturday’s game and it included senior defensive tackle Anthony Moten.
Moten, who has totaled three tackles through the three games, is listed as questionable with an unspecified “lower extremity injury”. If the 6-foot-4, 315-pound St. Thomas Aquinas alum is unable to play against the Seminoles, look for Pat Bethel to see an increased role.
Not on the injury report was junior running back Mark Walton.
Walton has been dealing with an ankle injury since Miami’s win over Toledo, when a Rockets defender rolled up on his left foot. He briefly left that game but later returned and he played starters reps in the Hurricanes’ win over Duke.
Walton, who said after he originally injured the ankle two weeks ago that he had never felt a pain like that before and feared he wasn’t going to be able to play again, seemed to re-aggravate the injury in the fourth quarter against the Blue Devils.
He missed the final minutes of that game, but both he and coaches have remained adamant that he wouldn’t miss any time.
Miami offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown gave an update on his No. 1 ball carrier Wednesday.
“I think Mark will be fine. I think he just kind of tweaked it a little towards the end of last game, which wasn’t as bad as the first time that he hurt it. He really could have gone back in the game if we needed him to,” Brown said.
“He lives in the training room regardless of if he has an “injury” or not. He looked good today and moved around well. There is a little soreness, but I think he’ll be fine.”
UM announced last week that it had suspended redshirt junior receiver Dayall Harris for three games.
Harris, who had two receptions for 16 yards and a touchdown this season, did not play the game against Duke and won’t be eligible to return until Miami’s October 21st game against Syracuse.