No. 7 Miami at No. 3 Florida State
Saturday, 8:00 PM, ABC
Line: Florida State -21
When the ACC expanded early in the 2000s, it was these kinds of games that the conference leadership had to be dreaming about. Two top ten teams from the state of Florida duking it out for conference and national supremacy.
It didn’t quite work out that way for a variety of reasons, but the time has finally arrived. This game could wind up being a preview of the ACC title game if both teams win out from here, and of course a possible berth in the BCS title game remains in the cards for the winner.
For Miami to win: Control field position. Right now, Florida State’s offense has been a bit of a buzzsaw. Miami has struggled of late with injuries on offense, and if they are going to stay in this game, it is imperative that they either score on offense or, at the very least, keep field position on their side. The Hurricanes need to rely as much as they can on their ground game and use field position to turn this into a slugfest.
For Florida State to win: Avoid a slow start. It has really only happened once this season against Boston College, and Florida State found themselves in a four quarter battle with a lesser opponent. If Miami is in the game in the fourth quarter, it could mean serious trouble for the Seminoles. If Florida State is going to win this game, they need to come out early and not even make it a contest. Apply the petal to the metal, utilize the talents of their playmakers and force Miami to play from way behind.
Key Player, Miami: Duke Johnson running back. Duke is the engine that has kept the chains and the offense moving for the ‘Canes. Johnson, who has been dinged a couple of times this season with minor injuries, was instrumental in leading Miami to victory over Wake Forest last week, carrying the ball 30 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson also can contribute in the kicking game, so he is a true versatile threat for a Miami offense with an injured and inconsistent quarterback in Stephen Morris.
Key Player, Florida State: Timmy Jernigan, defensive lineman. Yes, everyone knows how important and key Jameis Winston is. However, Jernigan and the rest of the defensive line are going to be the key to this game. Miami will want to lean on Duke Johnson to run the ball and it will be up to the front four to not only slow Johnson down, but also to get pressure on quarterback Stephen Morris and try and force him to make mistakes that the Seminoles can then capitalize on.
Key Stat: 101-56. That is the combined score of the last three games that these two squads have played. Florida State has won all three of those games.