|Hurricanes, Seminoles both desperate for ACC wins|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 03 October 2008 11:53|
Yet to the Seminoles and Hurricanes, Saturday's matchup almost couldn't be more significant.
The winner will be viable again in the Atlantic Coast Conference, remain a healthy contender for a Bowl Championship Series berth and get a giant boost of momentum that comes from beating an archrival. The loser, meanwhile, will be rendered practically irrelevant in the league title picture and could be staring at the prospects of yet another mediocre season - or worse.
So even for two unranked teams, the stakes are high as ever.
we're going to win,'' Miami defensive end Eric Moncur said. ``Florida State has a pretty good team, but I think we're going to put everything together to win this one.''
For the second straight year, Florida State (3-1, 0-1) and Miami (2-2, 0-1) are meeting as unranked foes. The last time that happened was in 1976 and 1977, at the start of Bobby Bowden's tenure in Tallahassee.
That's not the only rarity surrounding this meeting.
It's a series steeped in tradition, with unsurpassed familiarity between the programs. But unlike when the teams met last year, when Miami scored two touchdowns 11 seconds apart in the final moments to pull off a 37-29 victory, this game will feature a slew of players getting their first taste of the intense rivalry.
Among the key players from a year ago who are no longer on their respective sidelines:
- Miami quarterbacks Kyle Wright, who got injured, and Kirby Freeman, who threw the winning touchdown pass.
- Florida State quarterback Xavier Lee, who ran for the Seminoles' only offensive touchdown but had a costly fumble late.
- Miami kicker Francesco Zampogna and tight end DajLeon Farr, who hooked up on a fake-field-goal-pass for a TD.
- Miami receiver Darnell Jenkins, who made three huge catches to keep the Hurricanes' hopes alive.
ia, who made five field goals.
``It's totally different,'' Miami coach Randy Shannon said. ``You knew the players, inside and out, for both teams. And now we have new quarterbacks, new offensive linemen, new defensive linemen, new schemes from what we did last year ... I mean, it's totally different. You want to say it's a feel-your-way-through-it-game, but it's not, because it's Florida State-Miami.''
For only the fifth time in the last 20 years, both teams will have quarterbacks making debuts in the series.
Florida State starter Christian Ponder was rolling to open the season, completing 24 of 39 passes for 376 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in the first two games - albeit against lower-level competition. But in the last two weeks, against Wake Forest and Colorado, Ponder was 16-of-40 for 171 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions.
Miami starter Robert Marve is completing more than 60 percent of his passes so far as a redshirt freshman, with five touchdowns and three interceptions - two of those coming in the fourth quarter of last week's stunning collapse against North Carolina.
``Their quarterback and our quarterback are at very much the same stage,'' Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. ``We're both learning. Every time we walk out there it's a learning experience.''
learned this week is this: It could very well be a strength-against-strength situation Saturday.
Florida State has looked best this season when running the ball, and Antone Smith had a huge game last week in a win over Colorado. That plays perfectly into the strength of Miami's defense, as the Hurricanes have had much more success defending the run than the pass.
``The collisions in this game are just unmatched, compared to any other game,'' Miami left tackle Jason Fox said. ``It's going to come down to who makes more plays and who makes more big plays.''
There's been some back-and-forth talk among players this week, hardly a surprise since the rosters are loaded with players who know one another from high schools around the Sunshine State.
Even though both schools face Florida this year, the clear sense in both camps is that this one is their game of the year - with, for good measure, some win-or-else pressure heaped on top.
``This is the game you come to Florida State for,'' said Seminoles wide receiver Corey Surrency, a South Florida native. ``This is the money game. You do something in this game, you make a name for yourself.''