But now that Christmas has come and gone, the Hurricanes and Seminoles are getting down to serious business with the FedEx Orange Bowl at Pro Player Stadium just a couple days away.
Miami (10-2), making its fourth consecutive Bowl Championship Series bowl appearance on Jan. 1, moved into the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood from Coral Gables on Friday although the Hurricanes will continue to practice on campus in preparation for the game. Florida State (10-2) made the 90-minute plane ride into Miami on Friday. Although the Hurricanes will be the visiting team in the game because of a lower BCS ranking (No. 9 to No. 7) UM coach Larry Coker likes the thought of being in familiar surroundings.
"I really feel we have a great set-up for the game. Being home we're able to use our practice field, weight room and just treat it like its another home game for us," said Coker. "I think there's a certain level of comfort with our players because they know what to expect in getting ready for the game."
The Hurricanes, No. 10 in the media poll, won't be playing in the national championship game for the first time since the end of the 2000 season, but UM will have plenty on the line against the Seminoles. After dropping consecutive games to Virginia Tech and Tennessee following a 7-0 start Miami's coaching staff, especially offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, came under fire largely because the team's offense scored a combined 13 points in the defeats.
But the Hurricanes rebounded to close out the regular season with three straight victories, including a 28-14 win over Pittsburgh that gave Miami a share of the Big East title. The Hurricanes shared the conference title with the Mountaineers, but earned the league's BCS berth by virtue of a 22-20 victory over West Virginia in October. Now a victory on New Year's Day would guarantee the Hurricanes at least a top-10 finish in the polls for the fourth consecutive season. If that isn't enough to get the Hurricanes excited about taking on their state-rivals this might be: Miami, which defeated Florida State 22-14 earlier this season, has the most victories against Florida State (10) over the last 16 season than any other school in the nation. The Hurricanes have won four straight games in the series.
"That's definitely something that we as players take a lot of pride in," said UM senior linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who has never been on the losing side against the Seminoles. "If we had to play anybody again then let it be Florida State."
On the other hand the Seminoles, the Atlantic Coast Conference champions, are looking at the game as a chance for redemption. After losing to the Hurricanes the Seminoles posted three straight road wins before stumbling at Clemson. FSU quarterback Chris Rix wants to help restore the Seminoles national perception. And what better way than with a victory over the Hurricanes.
"I'm ready to get down to business," said Rix.
UM, FSU Ready
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