Showdown With Florida State is Perfect Opportunity for Miami to Gain Respect

Barring any major weather changes, the Miami Hurricanes will play host to the Florida State Seminoles this Saturday. As bizarre as the weather, Miami will enter this showdown with the ‘Noles as the favorite.

It wouldn’t have been out of the norm for Mark Richt to need time. It takes time to rebuild confidence at a place with such high expectations yet little to show for it since 2003. But this first-year head coach has this team playing great football through four games.

The schedule hasn’t been particularly grueling to start the year, but road wins over Appalachian State and Georgia Tech are noteworthy. The defense is playing lights out, giving up just 11.0 points and 253.3 yards per game.

The offense is also more balanced than in previous seasons. The Hurricanes’ two-headed attack of Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby has combined for 766 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Brad Kaaya’s completion percentage is up from last year, and he is averaging 9.8 yards per completion. With Kaaya’s leadership and poise, the offense will keep Miami in a lot of games.

And right in the middle of all this, the big bad bully from Tallahassee is coming to town. Miami has seen its share of wins in this rivalry—it leads 31-29 overall—but Florida State has won the last six meetings. Now at 4-0 and No. 10 in the AP Poll, the Hurricanes have a chance to gain some respect this weekend.

Florida State limps into this matchup at 3-2, already losing conference games to Louisville and North Carolina. The Seminoles defense entered the season with high expectations, but it has given up 35.4 points per game through five weeks. There is a lot of talent on that side of the ball, though, and this rivalry matchup could be what Florida State needs to get re-focused.

I mean let’s be honest. Miami isn’t going to run the table and compete for the national title this year. It’s been a great start, but this team is about to get to the meat of the schedule with games against North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame still looming in October.

Richt should still be recognized for getting this team off to a hot start, though. With the way things ended in the Al Golden era, this city and this team needs this kind of confidence if it wants to get back to where it was. And a win over Florida State on Saturday will only add to that confidence.

Keys for Miami

  • Create turnovers (the last two matchups have been decided by a combined 9 points)
  • Stay balanced on offense by running the ball with Walton and Yearby
  • Attack off play-action against a struggling Seminoles secondary

Keys for Florida State

  • Win up front and create space for Dalvin Cook
  • Get pressure on Kaaya with a solid defensive front
  • Take care of the football (Miami forced 3 turnovers vs. GT last week)

Prediction: Miami 33, Florida State 29

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About Zach Gilliland

Contributor for All Sports Talk, Bleacher Report, and Saturday Edge. Senior at the University of South Carolina-Upstate, where I hope to graduate with a degree in Education and a minor in Journalism in 2017. If it's Saturday, I'm 100 percent likely to be sitting in front of a television watching college football. Follow me on Twitter @ZachGilliland93