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Florida State vs. Miami: Preview And Prediction

The NoleDigest Staff previews and predicts the Florida State-Miami matchup.

Miami:

Record: 3-1

Series Record: 31-28 Miami leads

Al Golden

Record At Miami: 31-23

Record vs. ACC: 16-16

Record vs. FSU: 0-4

Stats

You can find every stat you need here: FSU-Miami: Tale Of The Tape

Key Players

QB Brad Kaaya: 86-140 for 1094 yards. 5 passing touchdowns and 1 interceptions. 8 rushes for -21 yards.

Kaaya is the key to the Miami offense. If he has time to throw he has the ability to pick apart any defense in the country.

RB Joe Yearby: 58 rushes for 424 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. 8 catches for 111 yards and 1 receiving touchdown.

Yearby is arguably the best player on the Miami team. He's a downhill runner that has the ability to break tackles and then break away with his speed. 

CB Artie Burns: 10 tackles and 3 interceptions.

Burns is by far the best player in the Miami secondary. He already has three interceptions on the season despite teams avoiding his side of the field for the most part. 

Predictions

Wayne McGahee III: This is easily the biggest test for the Seminoles through the first five games of the season, and we will finally see what this team is made of. The Florida State offense will run, run, and run some more against a Miami defense that has struggled to stop the runs against teams that aren't the best at running the football. Dalvin Cook, who i expect to play, should be able to run wild on this defense. The Miami defensive line has not been very good so far this season, and the Florida State offensive line, despite struggling in pass protection at times, has been very good at run blocking. Quarterback Everett Golson took a step forward against Wake Forest last weekend, but he has not played against the level of athlete that Miami will throw at him this season. He will need to be very careful with the football against an opportunistic Miami defense, which has forced 11 turnovers already this season.

The Florida State defense will be facing a different sort of challenge this week. For the first time all season they will not be playing a mobile quarterback. That will allow the defenisve line to pin their ears back, get up field, and get to Kaaya on a regular basis. The Florida State defensive line will have a big advantage against the Miami offensive line, and the Seminoles will need to translate that into pressure and sacks. This will easily be the biggest challenge for the Florida State secondary so far this season. Miami's receivers are big, fast, and athletic, if not polished, and will challenge the Florida State secondary. 

This game will come down to two things in my opinion. If Florida State can continue to limit the turnovers on offense, and if they can get to Kaaya with just the front four on defense. I think that they will be able to do both. Florida State will be able to run the football, and will be able to grind this game out. I think Florida State pulls away late for a 31-17 win. 

Jason Staples: To beat this Florida State team, an opponent will need to be able to limit FSU’s excellent rushing attack and create big plays against a Seminole defense that has been excellent at limiting explosive plays so far this season. On the one hand, Miami’s offense is by far the best FSU will have faced this season and has lots of explosive potential, thanks to quarterback Brad Kayaa and a deep group of athletic receivers along with running back Joe Yearby—especially if they can get Yearby matched up against linebacker Reggie Northrup in man coverage. Nevertheless, the FSU defense appears to have the edge in the trenches, and Kayaa’s lack of mobility (especially given his apparent knee trouble this week) should allow a resurgent Seminole pass rush opportunities to create havoc. I expect UM to make a few plays but to have difficulty finishing drives much like they have all season so far.

On the other side of the ball, the Hurricanes' defense is 123rd in the nation in Rushing S&;P+, a bad sign when facing a Seminole offense led by Dalvin Cook (who will play) and an offensive line that showed improvement against Wake Forest. That said, smart money says the Hurricane defensive front looks much more motivated and cohesive against Florida State than they have the rest of the year. Everett Golson took a big step forward last week, but he faces an opportunistic Miami defense with eight interceptions and eleven total turnovers forced on the season. The Miami secondary has been outstanding as long as safety Deon Cain has been on the field (a targeting foul cost him part of the Nebraska game and the first half against Cincinnati), and Golson will need to be especially careful about testing Cain and cornerback Artie Burns. But again, as long as FSU is able to run for 4+ yards per carry like the rest of the Canes’ FBS opponents on the season, Golson should be able to throw when he wants to throw rather than because he has to throw.

To me, the bottom line in this game is that FSU should have the edge on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and has not shown a propensity to give up explosive plays on defense, meaning FSU should win this game as long as they don’t lose the turnover battle by 2+. FSU also holds a significant special teams advantage; I expect to see FSU return a kick for a score against a subpar Miami coverage unit, and that should be enough for the Noles to cover the spread. I have Florida State winning 34–17.


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