The ACC is getting their second matchup of top-10 teams this season when the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes head to Doak Campbell Stadium to face the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles in a matchup that will have far-reaching implications for the ACC title, the Heisman Trophy and the BCS National Championship. FSU is a heavy favorite in this one after they have steamrolled over everyone on their schedule. If the Canes don’t want to become just another team run off the field by the Noles on Saturday, Miami needs a career-day out of quarterback Stephen Morris.
Morris has been an offensive leader for Miami for several seasons now but hasn’t broken through with that “signature moment” that really defines his career in South Beach. The stage is set in a major way for him to have that moment this week on the road in a rivalry game against a heavily favored national title contender. The problem for Morris and the Canes, however, is that he hasn’t been showing that he’s all that capable of having the kind of breakout game that the Canes need from him.
So far this season, Morris is completing 59.9 percent of his passes and averaging just 209 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In three conference games this season against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels and Wake Forest Demon Deacons (not exactly the murderer’s row of the ACC), Morris is completing a slightly higher percentage of his throws (62.4) and throwing for slightly more yardage (279 yards per game), but he’s thrown just four touchdowns and six interceptions.
Because of those turnovers and general ineffectiveness, Miami has needed late rallies to overcome both North Carolina (2-5 on the season) and Wake Forest (4-4) in the two weeks leading up to this showdown. Florida State is much better than either of those teams and will not give Miami an opportunity to mount a mad rally in the fourth quarter. If given any advantage early, Florida State has proven this season that they’re going to blow you off the field.
Miami can’t afford to start slow and get behind. They need to play their best game of the season, especially on offense which means they need to score points. FSU has scored at least 41 points in every game this season while the Canes have failed to break 30 the last two weeks. That means Stephen Morris is under pressure to elevate his game to a whole new level. He must play the best game of his life against FSU’s dominant defense in order to keep pace with the Noles’ prolific offense.
It’s a daunting task to be sure but if he can find a way to do it, Morris will have found his signature win and brought The U all the way back.