"Although they (Hurricanes) do take a lot of two-deep coverage, which takes the safeties out of play a lot, and allows you to run more. I think what the offense needs to do is remember, let the defense also play its part. Be patient. Don't be conservative but be wise and remember you have a defense that leads the nation in scoring."
The anticipation and excitement surrounding the game continues to build. The fifth-ranked Seminoles (5-0) have been tabbed an early 6 ½-point favorite over the second-ranked Hurricanes (3-0), who have won the last three in the storied series and carry a school-record 37-game regular-season win streak into Tallahassee.
Many story lines have emerged as the week enters the halfway point.
For starters, after last week's win over Duke, FSU coach Bobby Bowden moved to within one win of Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who has the all-time Division I-A wins record with 338. Bowden, however, says he's not concerned with personal milestones -- just championships.
And, if the Seminoles want to continue their climb back among the national elite, they must snuff out the Hurricanes. In reality, FSU is in ideal position as the season nears the halfway point. A victory over their arch-rival will help catapult the Seminoles into a second half that features four of six games on the road.
"Are they (Seminoles) all the way back? I will start putting them there after this game (with a win)," Bowden said.
"I want to make sure because Miami will play their best game against Florida State and this thing will be down to the wire. Again, it doesn't mean they won't have a 10- or 11-win season but if they are going to play for a (national) championship it's got to happen on Saturday.
"Their non-conference schedule, though it's one of the toughest in the country, and yet Colorado, Notre Dame and Florida are all struggling this year. And so what happens, a normal year this would be a bear of a schedule. Colorado won the Big 12, what the last two years? Notre Dame was a BSC team last year and Florida, a couple of years ago was a (Steve) Spurrier team and hard to beat. Non-conference is playing out pretty well.
"In conference, N.C. State, a team that gives Florida State the most trouble, is 3-3 and struggling a little bit. They don't have a very good defensive team. They got Maryland early -- Maryland is usually a great team by the end. So, Virginia looks like maybe the toughest in the conference."
In any rivalry, all eyes are normally on the quarterbacks. Saturday won't be any different.
In one corner is UM's Brock Berlin, who has been booed by hometown fans but still played well enough in the clutch to help the Hurricanes' post dramatic, come-from-behind wins over Florida and West Virginia last Thursday.
In the other corner is FSU's Chris Rix, who continues his ascent up the Seminole record books but remains an enigma to many FSU fans due to his inconsistency.
"I think obviously -- I've said it nationally -- the two quarterbacks (Brock Berlin of Miami and Chris Rix of Florida State) have to have a superior showing," Bowden said. "Still, I don't think either one of them has to be the factor that wins the game. They don't have to be the big point…there are other good things about their team. They just don't need to be the factor that loses the game.
"Brock Berlin has had some slow starts. He's played inconsistent consistently all year. Because of his youth. It's not so much that he's young by age but he's young within the Miami system. Young as a starting quarterback. So, he has been inconsistent. At times he looks unsure of himself in the pocket. It's not like we've seen the last three years with Ken Dorsey. So, he's a guy who can lose the game for them.
"Obviously, Chris Rix, though he's getting better, he's still must show he has poise in critical situations. When not to throw it. Throw it away if things are covered. Go to your second receiver before you scramble. And when you do scramble, get on the ground. Don't try to run over Jonathan Vilma (UM lineabacker). I think those are big factors."
Rix, 0-2 versus the Hurricanes and 2-4 against ranked opponents, enters Saturday's game with 6,475 career total offensive yards to rank third-all time in FSU history behind Chris Weinke (9,473) and Charlie Ward (6,636). Of course, Weinke and Ward each won the Heisman Trophy and helped direct FSU to its two national titles.
Many still want to believe Rix has the potential to do the same.
Saturday will help determine his legacy.
"He's made a lot of improvement and I think he improves every game. But it's a work in progress,." Bowden said.
"Whether he's 75 percent of the Chris Rix he will be one day or he's 85 percent, he's a lot more than he was a couple of years ago. So, I think the key is he continues to improve and doesn't go out there and have a brain lock in critical situations. I just can see him scrambling around, all of a sudden, taking that ball away from his body, spinning around and taking a hit and fumbling a ball. He can't do that. It's just something he has to be careful with. But he has been better. And I think even more than Miami, Florida State has more weapons on offense. He doesn't have to win it. Just hand off, play-action, all those things he can do. He doesn't have to win it himself. That's the great thing. You have a good defense. You don't have to go out there and every play you have to get a score."
Another major key to the game will be FSU's ability to handle UM tight end Kellen Winslow, who enters as UM's most prolific receiver this season: 242 yards and a touchdown on 25 catches. And that, for the most part, was while being double-teamed.
Of course, Winslow also will be the first to tell you as much, too, saying UM will win handedly if it takes care of business Saturday. The Seminoles expect to defend Winslow with linebacker Michael Boulware.
"They've been defending him very well this year," Bowden said of UM's opponents.
"I think Florida State merely needs to look at the film because most teams have played against Miami have found ways to double him and take him out of the picture, from being a dominant picture. Obviously, you can hold him up at the line of scrimmage. You can put somebody right over his face and try to hit him as he tries to get off the line of scrimmage, and then let the safety cover him over top. There are ways to double him and that's what other teams have done. And most of Brock Berlin's bad throws, interceptions, have come trying to force it into Kellen Winslow, Jr. But if you do let him go free he will beat you himself."
"I think Lorenzo Booker is a big factor because I still say Greg Jones is still running a little tentatively and Lorenzo Booker gives Florida State such a different look out of the backfield," Bowden said.
"You have to get the running game. That's the most difficult thing about the shotgun, it's hard to get a consistent running game. But you have to get enough. I say Lorenzo Booker is vital, too, because he runs a different style. And he runs good out of the shotgun and catches the ball well out of the shotgun. I think that's a nice addition if he's 100 percent. Right now I am not so sure."
The FSU-UM series also has certain quirks the past 20 years, aside from which teams wins by rushing for more yards.
For instance, the team that has passed for more yards has won 12 of the last 20 games. The team that has the most penalties has won 13 of the last 20 games, including 12 of the last 16. The Hurricanes have won all six games decided by three points or less since 1983.
In the last 12 games UM has beaten FSU, the Hurricanes have won by an average of 9.3 points (29.6 to 20.3). In the eight games FSU has won, the Seminoles were far more convincing, winning by an average margin of 22.2 points (33.6 to 11.4).
Of course, there's also FSU's penchant for missing last-second field goals that would have either tied or beaten UM in the past.
Bowden, however, doesn't believe in bad karma. He sees FSU winning this game.
"I don't believe in bad karma. I believe in odds," Bowden said.
The odds are if it goes against you over and over again, it will eventually go your way. I think in regard to last-second kicks, the odds are it's going to go Florida State's way. I don't worry about the last-second kick. I think (Xavier) Beitia has really gotten over the slump and he's kicking pretty well right now."
Many analysts believe the Seminoles hold all the advantages -- playing at home, health, defensive talent, overall experience. But, as FSU fans are well aware, UM is, well UM. Bowden agrees.
"They always play Florida State well. Florida State has got to… I am not quite ready to put Florida State back in that position," Bowden said. "I think Florida State is the one that needs to be hungry, looking for respect, in the way they approach this game."