When No. 12 Miami faces a struggling Florida State team Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, the Hurricanes will be going for a fourth consecutive victory vs. the Seminoles in one of the best modern rivalries in college football. The hype is building around Miami after last week's impressive 47-34 victory at Louisville while FSU is looking for their first victory of the season.
Miami quarterback D'Eriq King threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Cardinals, showing that this new-look offense under the direction of new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has more versatility than the potent ground attack it showed in the season-opening victory against UAB. Miami's defense also got to show off the 2020 edition of the Turnover Chain (the Turnover Chain 4.0, to be specific) not just once but three times by the end of the evening, while also adding 10 tackles for loss in a performance that matched the aggressiveness of the up-tempo offense.
Florida State, meanwhile, spent the week trying to break down and fix the issues that contributed to another blown fourth quarter lead and a season-opening loss, this time to Georgia Tech in an ominous start to the Mike Norvell era. The Seminoles enter this rivalry game not only without a win in 2020 but without their coach on the sideline after Norvell tested positive for COVID-19. While the school says that Norvell has "remained actively involved with the program remotely," it will be deputy head coach Chris Thomsen who is handling the head coaching duties in-person Saturday night.
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Miami: While the offense has been the major storyline of the offseason and its success has been the primary talking point for the early weeks of the season, that unit still has yet to face a defense of Florida State's caliber. This is, without a doubt, the best challenge that King has faced and the big concern for Miami has to be how that offensive line holds up against Marvin Wilson and the Seminoles' defensive front. While the Hurricanes have been able to put up impressive numbers through two games there still has been some of the same inconsistent play along the offensive line that contributed to offensive woes in 2019. King has the escape ability to extend plays, but the offense is going to find it tough to get into a rhythm if its falling off schedule and behind the chains. It'll take a combination of King's decision-making, Lashlee's play-calling and execution by the five up front to avoid making this weakness a game-changing aspect to the contest, as its one of the only spots in the tale of the tape that point to a Florida State advantage.
Florida State: The career that James Blackman has experienced in Tallahassee, Florida, is nothing like what he expected when he committed to Jimbo Fisher out of high school. Norvell is his third full-time head coach -- and Thomsen will be his fifth if we're counting interim or part-time coaches. Kenny Dillingham is his fourth offensive coordinator, and yet he's still called to task for many of Florida State's offensive struggles over the last four years. The Seminoles had their own offensive line issues start at the end of the Jimbo Fisher era and have yet to see any kind of course correction up front, leading to disjointed offensive efforts that rely on explosive plays or outside-the-box thinking (like the Wild Cam with former FSU running back Cam Akers at quarterback) to find success. Blackman is still listed as the starter under center on the game-week depth chart but conversation about his status will continue with another poor performance, especially with true freshman Chubba Purdy starting to get practice reps again after a preseason injury.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 26 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium -- Miami Gardens, Florida
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
My favorite play here is the under, both for the "rivalry game unders" principle and the fact that the game breakdown highlights Florida State as one of the better teams to slow down Miami's high-powered offense. The Seminoles' best chance to win this game is to try and keep it low-scoring and close, but I don't think there's enough points on the spread to take the underdog. Look for Miami struggle early but ultimately wear Florida State down with its tempo, scoring late to put the game away and cover the spread. Pick: Miami (-11)
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