This has to be one of the more interesting match-ups of the year when you consider the talent on both teams (real or perceived) and the actual production. Reality is far different than what perception OR the actual numbers would be.
If we rewind to August this match-up would be laughable. The returning Heisman winner (2,540 yards, 17/11, 67%) against a true freshmen (2,087 yards, 20/9, 62%). However as you can see ON PAPER Brad Kaaya appears to be in the ballpark of Jameis Winston. That is probably true to a certain extent as he has out-performed expectations and Winston has under-performed the HHHF standard he accomplished last season. Those numbers do not take into account Winston has never lost a game, has been consistently clutch, missed a game (Clemson), and seems to relish the spotlight. FSU has an edge here, the one difference from pre-season is that FSU fans can't count on a bad Miami QB. Kaaya is good also.
Wow. This one is hard to explain, it is hard to even analyze, but we will try. FSU entered the season with three senior players who were "highly regarded" by the NFL (Erving, Jackson, Matias), plus a 4th senior (Hart) with Sunday potential. The 'Noles "lost" the 5th starting lineman (Center Austin Barron) and replaced him with RS Frosh (Hoefeld). Miami began the season with a highly regarded Junior (Flowers), a solid senior (Feliciano), a college senior starter (S McDermott), and then two unproven youngsters (Gadbois, Isidora). Flowers is out for the season and Gadbois has joined him (lost both starting OTs). They have slid Feliciano to one of the tackle spots and inserted two TRUE FRESHMEN (Linder, Darling). FSU is certainly the better line......right?
We saw the passing numbers, but Miami has rushed for 1,794 yards. FSU has ran for 1,169 yards. Pretty sizable edge there. Miami's line play has seemingly IMPROVED with the youngsters. Nothing makes sense.
What I am driving at here is EVERY single thing that could be analyzed would seemingly be in FSU's favor.......yet the production and eye test do not necessarily bare that out.
This position will be an interesting one to analyze.
RUNNING BACK/WIDE RECEIVER
The best RB in the game is Duke Johnson. The best WR is Rashad Greene. They even out. The next best offensive weapon should be Stacy Coley, but he has given Miami nothing this year. There are plenty of other talented options, but almost all come with question marks. Miami has a little more experience with Dorsett, Waters, and Lewis, but FSU would have a talent edge with Rudolph, Lane, and Wilson.
Probably the best thing that can be said here----and this is good news for Miami fans----is that this is as close as it has been in 5-6 years.
Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards are two players that Miami simply does not have. It is close enough between the rest of the guys currently playing on both sides. This should show up in some difference making plays.
Denzel Perryman is the best LB on the field..........but FSU's overall group is far better than Miami's.
Miami is slowly getting better in the secondary, but it is still quite a ways behind FSU's. Williams, Darby, Ramsey are NFL guys and the 'Canes simply do not have anyone of that caliber. Neither secondary is making enough plays. Big plays.
Miami does not have any difference making talent on defense right now and they lack quality depth in spots. There are some signs of life. FSU's defense has been put in some bad spots. They have flashed brilliance and the general trend is one of improvement.
FSU holds the edge in the key spots. Quarterback. Offensive Line. Defense. That is a big deal.
Could Kaaya outplay Winston? Of course he COULD. Would I bet on it? NO.
Could Duke Johnson go off? Sure he COULD. Would I bet on it? NO.
Could Miami's OL dominate a better FSU DL? Of course they COULD. Would I bet on it. NO. NO. NO.
My point here is that those prognosticator's calling for a Miami upset are looking past some things that are difficult to overcome. The home field will compensate for SOME. The in-state rivalry makes things a little closer. Absolutely. But FSU is just the more talented, more experienced, and more well oiled machine.