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College Football Season
Game Of The Week

Preview: Florida State at Miami

By Dave Congrove and Mike Mitchell, with contributions from the ACC
September 30, 2008

The Sunshine State rivalry is renewed on Saturday when Florida State travels over 400 miles south to Miami in what is also a crucial ACC battle. The 'Canes lost to North Carolina last week, and Florida State fell at home to Wake Forest two weeks ago, so neither team can afford a second conference loss. The 'Noles get the computer's nod by just under 7 points, but the computer favorite has lost the last five meetings.

The visitor has won the last two games. Miami has won seven of the last nine meetings. FSU has taken two of the last three. Miami leads the overall series 30-22. Miami won 37-29 in Tallahassee last year to halt a short two-game winning streak for the Seminoles in the series.

It's still impossible to say that we have learned anything definitive about these two teams, which makes this rivalry match all the more interesting.

Florida State opened with a pair of romps over FCS schools, Western Carolina and UT-Chattanooga. The 'Noles then fell 12-3 at home to the Demon Deacons but rebounded with a 39-21 non-conference win over Colorado last Saturday in Jacksonville.

Miami also opened against a FCS team, Charleston Southern, and won handily 52-7. But the 'Canes followed that up with a 26-3 loss at Florida, a 41-23 win at Texas A&M, and a 28-24 home loss to North Carolina.

Those schizophrenic results from both clubs make this a game that could make or break their seasons.

The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and will air regionally on ABC and other areas of the country on ESPN2.

The Seminoles are just 2-3 in Dolphin Stadium, 0-1 against the Canes. The 'Noles are 0-3 in FedEx Orange Bowl games played in the new Hurricanes’ home, including a rematch loss to Miami at the end of the 2003 season. Their only wins in the stadium came in the Blockbuster Bowl against Penn State at the end of the 1990 season, and in the regular season over Maryland in 1996.

Last week's setback to North Carolina was Miami's first-ever loss at Dolphin Stadium (4-1). It was the first time in 112 games that Miami lost a home game after leading by double digits at the start of the fourth quarter.

Bobby Bowden will be coaching his 501st game in his 43rd season. He notched his 376th career victory last week to remain one win behind Penn State’s Joe Paterno.

Randy Shannon is 7-9-0 in his second season as Miami's head coach.

Miami ranks 99th in total offense. Florida State ranks 38th, but those numbers were inflated in the two early season wins over FCS schools. In the last two games, the Seminoles have averaged just under 300 yards while the 'Canes have averaged 353.5 per game.

Miami ranks 21st in total defense and FSU ranks 3rd.

Both teams are trying to find consistency at quarterback. The 'Noles have primarily used Christian Ponder, but D'vontrey Richardson has seen significant action. Neither has impressed in the passing department as they have combined for 8 TD's and 6 INT's. Ponder has thrown 6 scoring strikes while tossing 4 interceptions. The pair combined to throw 5 picks in the Wake Forest loss.

Robert Marve has been the principal signal-caller for Miami, but Jacory Harris has seen plenty of playing time. Marve has thrown 5 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions. Harris has a lone TD pass and no INT's.

Antone Smith is the leading Seminole rusher with 302 yards and 5 touchdowns. Greg Carr tops the FSU receiving corps with 12 catches for 173 yards and one TD. Corey Surrency has scored 3 times on just 5 catches.

Defensively for Florida State, Everette Brown (6.5) and Derek Nicholson (5.5) have a combined 12 tackles for loss.

For Miami, Greg Cooper leads all rushers with 291 yards and 3 TD's. Kayne Farquharson has a slight edge among a trio of Hurricane receivers with 11 catches for 140 yards and 2 TD's. Thearon Collier has 9 grabs for 113 yards and a score, and Dedrick Epps has 8 catches for 105 yards.

Senior linebackers Glenn Cook and Colin McCarthy lead the Miami defense with 25 combined solo tackles. Cook has 15 solo stops and 3.5 tackles for loss.


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