College Football Insider

Miami-FSU rivalry hopes to recapture former glory

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Maybe you've seen the online photos of a half-empty Sun Life Stadium before University of Miami home games this year. Miami has had an attendance problem for years (even the 2001 title season drew around 46K per game), but count on Florida State-Miami to enliven the stadium for Saturday night's game.

The Miami staff is expecting a full Sun Life -- around 76,000 -- and remaining tickets are limited. This rivalry, at its core, is a pretty rowdy affair, at least in certain circles. Think crazy traffic, maybe a few parking-lot fights, exorbitant amounts of Natural Light. Hundreds of former UM and FSU players are getting in to Miami tonight for various alumni events/appearances and will attend the game.

As for Miami coach Al Golden, he's taking a singular approach. A win Saturday would be another step toward an ACC Coastal division title (Miami is in the Coastal lead with a 3-1 record). It's been eight years since the Hurricanes appeared in a conference title game. So while Golden appreciates the FSU-Miami folklore, he's got one eye on December, too.

"That's really only one way out right now for Miami Hurricanes: Coastal Division of the ACC," said Golden earlier this week. "It's important to be able to do that and not worry about anything on outside. We can continue to vicious cycle if looking for external affirmation."

All is quiet in UM's Hecht Athletic Center on a cloudy Friday afternoon. A few players walk to and from the facility, but for the most part Golden has things locked down the day before a game. That's typically how things are. Most of the preparation is done. Most media requests were satisfied midweek. Time to get the mind right before the game.

Walking into the Hecht, the first thing I notice is a big green-and-orange sign on the left-side wall that reads "U Compliance." Gotta imagine that department has been quite busy the last 18 months amid looming NCAA sanctions after ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro showered UM players with yacht trips and such. Lawyer Michael Glazier is on the case, as well.

The vibe I get is Miami is optimistic it can take the NCAA punch and still remain competitive in future years. When the hammer drops is uncertain, but it probably won't happen in 2012. Seems like Golden is encouraged enough where he's not actively looking to bolt. You never know in the fickle coaching realm, but Golden doesn't sound like a guy who's ready to dip. Golden cites his heady days growing a struggling Temple program, his Italian immigrant mother and a Jersey City dad who worked two jobs as references for why he wants to fight for Miami.

"We didn't retreat," Golden said.

Golden's Hurricanes will need to scrap and claw to knock off FSU, which is one curious loss to NC State away from joining the thick of the national title hunt. Quarterback Stephen Morris (ankle) is listed as doubtful for the game, meaning the show would belong to backup Ryan Williams. That's a lot to ask against an athletic, rangy FSU defense. Miami will get a quality win or two by season's end, but it won't be this week. Too much inexperience in Coral Gables.

FSU 31, Miami 20

 
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