Plant The Spear: Miami Hurricanes
Plant The Spear is a weekly column previewing the upcoming matchup for the Florida State Seminoles. As a newly anointed father, I decided that it would be best to talk about the things that really matter to fans - tailgating, food, out-of-town watering holes, weather, betting lines and of course, cheerleaders - never forget the cheerleaders. If you're looking for your typically stuffy and recycled game preview that practically every other sports website has, don't read this. Go somewhere else. However, if you enjoy a take on college football that's mixed with pop culture references and a little witty banter all smothered in sarcasm, we'll get along just fine.
*Author's Note* As always, this is a No Homer Zone. Regardless of my membership with the Seminole Boosters, or my being a Florida State fan since I was 10 (I'm 32 now), or the fact that my wife is an FSU grad - I'm a college football fan above all else. Consumption of Seminole Kool-Aid will not be tolerated.
Breakdown: It feels just like the good ol' days, doesn't it? Florida State. Miami. College Gameday. A prime-time nationally televised showdown with national championship implications. Yes, it's been nearly 10 years (2004) since FSU and Miami were both ranked in the Top 10 for this annual skirmish, but who cares - it's here now. The ACC is having a very solid year thus far, and this type of matchup between the Noles and Canes is what the ACC was dreaming of when Miami joined the league back in '04. Saturday night's game between these two storied programs and heated rivals is what college football is all about. This is how it used to be. This is how it should always be.
Miami rolls into Tallahassee ranked #7 in the country and boasting a 7-0 mark on the season. The Hurricanes have had some close calls recently, needing last minute scores to fend off North Carolina and Wake Forest in the past few weeks. The Hurricanes managed to take out in-state rival Florida back in September, forcing five turnovers en route to an ugly 21-16 victory. A win is a win though, and Miami keeps finding ways to get the job done. Taking on the Seminoles may be a different story.
Florida State is coming off a 49-17 thrashing of NC State last weekend. The Noles came out throwing bombs against the Wolfpack, racking up 35 points in the first quarter alone. Head coach Jimbo Fisher called off the dogs, pulling the starters with 10 minutes left in the third. I don't think Miami will be so lucky.
What Miami's Working With:
As you can see, the Hurricanes have a very passionate fanbase as well......
Why FSU Will Win: Balance, consistency, and focus. The 2013 Seminoles have a different look and feel about them, that FSU "swag" if you will, that hasn't been seen around Tallahassee since the dynasty days some 13 years ago. That rebirth of FSU swag can be credited in large part to QB Jameis Winston, who was a six year old the last time the Noles look this good. Offensively, the Noles have been able to do whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want all season long. Miami's defense has been suspect all season, mostly by getting gashed through the air by the passing attacks of teams like Wake Forest. As we all know, Famous Jameis can sling it, and if the offensive line holds up like I think it will, it's going to be a long night for that Cane secondary.
Miami does have a pretty solid offensive line, but I'm not sure that they are prepared to handle the constant pressure and various looks that defense coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will whip out. The plan will be to rattle Miami QB Stephen Morris, who will have to play the game of his life in the most hostile environment he has ever faced, to survive and bring home the 'W' for Da U. Morris has been a bit of a turnover machine, and if that trend continues, FSU will feast on the error of his ways. The Noles defense will have to deal with stud Miami RB Duke Johnson (see below), who is the heart and soul of the Hurricane attack. Stop Johnson, demoralize Miami. With Alabama and Oregon both off this weekend, I think Jimbo will go for the kill with all eyes on Tallahassee, a public execution of a rival in front of millions. I love this game.
What Worries Me: Miami is a 21-point underdog in this game, which I believe is the largest point spread for a Top 10 matchup in college football history (Thanks a lot, Vegas). The Hurricanes probably feel like they were disrespected (maybe a little?) by this ridiculous spread and create the "us against the world" type thing. If Miami can come out on fire, put some points up on the board and take the crazy Doak Campbell crowd out of the game, they'll have a shot at the upset. I'm more worried about Jameis Winston being abducted by aliens than the scenario above, but I figured I had to give you something. Oh, and I heard they were switching up the nacho cheese for the helmet nachos this weekend. Hopefully that's not a huge disaster.
Watch Out For: Miami sophomore RB Duke Johnson is the obvious choice here. When the kid burst on to the scene last season as a true freshman, some Hurricane fans penciled him in for at least three Heisman Trophies. While The Duke is indeed a baller, FSU did keep him in check last season and he enters Saturday's contest a little banged up. Johnson averages 183 all-purpose yards per game and has already rushed for 823 yards in seven games this season. He runs, catches, returns kicks - the dude does it all. No doubt a game-changer and by far the star of this Miami team, he will be the key to keeping the Hurricanes in the game. Slow down Duke Johnson, slow down Miami. Regardless, Duke Johnson is an awesome 70's porn name though. Just saying.
What I'd Like To See: Considering that this is Miami we're talking about here, a 70-0 beatdown of the Canes would be great. Realistically though, a one-point victory over the Da-U would be more than acceptable. If Miami has learned anything from watching game film, they will not put on the pressure and blitz Jameis Winston. Sounds crazy, I know, but Winston has humiliated opposing defenses this season while under duress. If the Canes were smart (that's debatable), they would drop eight, play coverage football and not allow for any big plays down field. If they do this, I'll be looking for Jameis to make check-downs to his running backs in the flats, and let junior TE Nick O'Leary find holes in the coverage. If the Canes do indeed drop in to coverage mode, they would then be facing heavy doses of running backs Devonta Freeman, James Wider Jr., and Karlos Williams. It will be a long night regardless for the Hurricane defense, but if they can withstand the onslaught of the FSU offense, they might have a shot to pull this thing off. That's what I would NOT like to see.
Weather: 64*at kickoff (Tallahassee, FL) Clear Skies
Vegas: Florida State -21 / Over-Under: 62
Prediction: Captain Obvious says "if Miami can keep it close heading into the 4th quarter, anything can happen." I say "thanks Captain Obvious," and politely tell him that he's a moron. I'm not really seeing a first quarter like last week, when the Noles hung 35 in 15 minutes on NC State. Miami will bring their swag and A-game, no doubt - but so will the Noles. Each week is an opportunity for Florida State to prove that they are back to reclaim the top spot in all the land. Miami just happens to be in the way. A little too close for comfort early on, but FSU pulls away in the second half and sets its sights on a November 9 road trip to Wake Forest.
FSU38 Miami 20
Tailgate Food of the Week: