The Miami Hurricanes (6-3) are coming off the heels of a tough loss to the NC State Wolfpack and are now going on the road to face the #4 team in the nation, the Florida State Seminoles (9-0). For the Canes and Noles, this is the game of the season, the one circled on the calendar by both teams, a game of bragging rights in one of the most heated and historic rivalries in college football history. The Canes lead the all-time series against the Noles 35-32, but the Noles have won the past two contests, including a trouncing 45-3 victory last year at the Hard Rock Stadium. The Noles are coming in at 9-0 and are on their way to play for, and possibly win, the ACC championship, currently locked into one of the top four spots in the College Football Playoff. Miami will not only have to contend with an excellent FSU team but also find a way to defeat them on the road. What does Miami need to do to win this game?
Keys To Victory:
For Miami, the key to victory is protecting the football. When the story of the 2023 season is written, Miami’s team will be remembered as a very talented team that couldn’t get out of its own way. Miami is now one of the worst teams in the nation in turnovers, ranking 126th, while Florida State ranks among the best at 3rd. The Canes need to protect the football, and that starts at the quarterback position. Over the last three games, Tyler Van Dyke has thrown five touchdowns and ten interceptions. Miami has statistically been one of the best teams in the ACC and in the nation in a slew of categories, but the one statistic that overturns all the success they have enjoyed is turnovers. One has to wonder how long Mario Cristobal will keep starting TVD when, at this point, it looks like he is either playing too injured to make a difference or defenses have figured out that he struggles with Cover 2 and dropping eight in coverage. Mario must seriously consider starting either Emory Williams or Jacurri Brown, even if they struggle. The Canes will play their hearts out for Williams or Brown. I am not sure, if TVD is thrown back out there, that the team will not mentally check out when adversity occurs.
In a game where Miami will see some of the most talented wide receivers this year, Miami will really need Davonte Brown and the defensive back unit, with Darryl Porter out for this game. Brown was brought here for moments like this, an experienced defensive back who will need to get physical with FSU’s wide receivers. Miami will need its All-American safety Kam Kinchens to avoid jumping routes and taking chances this game. If Kinchens and the safeties can play disciplined football, and Brown can provide similar results to Porter, Miami will have a chance to limit FSU’s passing attack.
Keep An Eye On:
Florida State is one of the top teams in the country this year. They have a first-round defensive end in Jared Verse, who is one of the best in the ACC and a possible first-round draft pick. The Noles have a pair of elite wide receivers in Keon Coleman (538 yards, 9 touchdowns) and Johnny Wilson, who has 415 yards and two touchdowns with a 16.6 average per reception. They are led by sixth-year senior Jordan Travis, who has over 2,400 passing yards this year with 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Florida State does not turn the ball over; they don’t make mistakes and play disciplined football. Mike Norvell has turned a 3-7 team into a playoff-caliber team with the third-ranked SOR (strength of record) in the nation.
For Miami to win, they will need to win the turnover battle. Miami has a team that can physically compete with Florida State. For the Canes, the game hinges on whether they can protect the ball better than the Noles, who are top three in this category in the nation. The Noles are bringing over 100+ recruits to the game, and internally the sentiment is that Miami cannot compete with them. The Noles see themselves as a playoff team and view the Canes as an unranked team that they will blow out. For recruiting optics, bragging rights, and selling your vision, this game is monumental. The Canes will bring one of the best offensive lines in the nation and a stingy defense that has held up this year. For Cristobal, the decision will come down to the turnover issue that has plagued the Canes since Georgia Tech. If Miami starts TVD, I can see this game getting out of hand in the second half and see Florida State winning by 20 plus. If the Canes start Emory or Jacurri, and are able to turn the ball over less or net zero with FSU, Miami will have a chance to win this game.
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