Florida State-Miami Had No Surprises This Year

By Travis Patterson

I don’t know what was more disappointing — the lack of tailgaters outside of Doak Campbell Stadium or the actual quality of football on display after Chief Osceola and Renegade planted the flaming spear near midfield.  However, between all of the letdowns experienced in Tallahassee on Saturday, by far the most the discouraging one was the fact that not many Florida State “season ticket holders” knew who Leroy Butler was.  I guess it’s not important, he was just an All-American and part of one of the most famous plays in college football.

The primetime matchup between No. 3 Florida State and No. 7 Miami was about what most people expected — a game that would send yawns throughout the entire nation.  The Seminoles showed the world that Miami was a product of the schedule that they were dealt. It also showed that this rivalry is dead in the water and will probably remain that way for the foreseeable future.  ESPN’s College Gameday was set up in front of the “Unconquered” statue outside of the stadium, but that was probably the highlight of the day in the panhandle.  Jimbo Fisher‘s team dominated that team from the south to the tune of 41-14.  The two Miami touchdowns were a result of Jameis Winston interceptions that can be chalked up to miscommunication between the freshman quarterback and his wide receivers.

This marked the 14th time that the two schools from the Sunshine State met as top-10 opponents but left traditional college football fans more disappointed than Boston Red Sox fans were when Grady Little stuck with Pedro Martinez a little too long in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.  Florida State’s 27-point margin of victory is a healthy difference,  but the score was probably closer than the game really was.  The Seminoles outgained the Hurricanes 517-275 in terms of total yardage and held Miami to 83 yards on the ground.  Florida State was only up 21-14 at halftime, but the third and fourth quarters felt like a mere formality as the entire stadium knew that Miami did not have the horses to keep up.

The last time a top-10 Florida State-Miami game was this disappointing occurred in the season opener of the 1988 season.  Miami was coming off of a national championship season in 1987, while Florida State was busy making rap videos about how good they were.  Despite the Hurricanes’ success the previous year, Florida State entered the game as the preseason No. 1 team with Miami checking in at No. 8.  Deion Sanders‘ dance moves were not a deciding factor as Miami sent Florida State back to Tallahassee with a 31-0 defeat, along with a healthy dose of reality.  The Seminoles turned the ball over six times, including five interceptions by three different quarterbacks.  Bobby Bowden‘s squad only crossed midfield three times during the game and could only manage to gain 242 total yards, with just 42 of them coming on the ground.

This most recent edition of the Florida State-Miami game could be easily compared to that 1988 lackluster performance, except it was Miami who was in role of punching bag this time.  To add insult to injury, Miami running back Duke Johnson suffered an ankle injury that will have him being a cheerleader for the remainder of the season.  Stephen Morris played timid and was flustered all game with the exception of two touchdown dimes that were beautifully dropped in.  The offensive line held up for the most part, but the pass protection success was cancelled out by Miami receivers not being able to get loose and gain separation from the physical Florida State secondary.  Miami does not have time to sulk though as Virginia Tech, led by a tall quarterback, comes into the intimidating environment that is Sun Life Stadium this coming Saturday.

After Miami has already revealed its true colors, the possible rematch that will occur in Charlotte (which is in South Carolina as one Florida State fan sitting behind me proclaimed) will be even worse than this most recent game.  Florida State has the look of a team that is capable of competing for a national championship but will need some help along the way in order to make the dream season possible.  The Seminoles will play at Wake Forest this weekend before returning home to play Syracuse.

Travis Patterson, ACC Writer Rantsports.com.  Football Writers Association of America.  Follow on Twitter @tpat20.  https://twitter.com/tpat20

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