Odd Chapter in Miami-FSU Rivalry Ends in Florida State Win


It didn’t have national title implications, or even ACC implications. Virginia Tech eliminated Miami from the Coastal race Thursday night, and Clemson clinched the Atlantic title in the overtime win over Wake Forest. But the energy was high and the game was wild and weird in the latest chapter of the Miami-FSU rivalry.

Florid State cornerback LaMarcus Joyner recovered an apparent Allen Hurns fumble for a score on the first offensive play of the game. The play was reversed. On the next Hurricanes possession Joyner picked off Jacory Harris in the end zone after Miami put together a very good drive.

Later, Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which would result in a safety. After review, the play was confirmed. But after even further review it was announced that the rules were misinterpreted, and actually there was no safety.

In the fourth quarter, Miami quarterback Stephen Morris went in motion with Harris lined up at quarterback. Morris took the snap from under center and appeared to score on the quarterback sneak but was ruled short. The play stood as called after review.

There were so many reviews it’s a wonder they didn’t take a second look at the coin flip. You know, just to be sure.

The Hurricanes turned over the football three times, and the Seminoles were turnover-free. FSU punted the ball after Joyner’s interception, but a mental error by Travis Benjamin on the punt return led to a fumble and Florida State recovery. Three points for the Noles was the result.  A Lamar Miller fumble shortly before the half almost resulted in three additional points for the Seminoles, but Dustin Hopkins‘ kick sailed wide right.

Greg Reid returned a 44-yard punt 83 yards to pull ahead 17-7. Despite outgaining Florida State 203-79 in the first half and holding the Seminoles to just three first downs, that was the score at the half. Later, Karlos Williams housed the kickoff to open the third quarter, but it was called back for holding.

It was a sort of comedy of errors for the Miami offense and special teams in the first half.

Credit the Miami defense for keeping the Hurricanes in it. They allowed just one touchdown in the first half, and the field goal after the muffed punt isn’t on them. The Seminoles actually lost yardage before the attempt four plays later.

The Hurricanes D stepped up again later and held on 3rd and goal from the FSU 1-yard line to force a field goal following the Williams kick return that was called back. They held the Seminoles to a field goal again in the fourth when FSU reached the red zone.

E.J. Manuel put forth another good performance, connecting on 17 of 23 passes for 196 yards and a score. The Seminoles managed just one offensive touchdown, but they managed to move the football in the second half to get into field goal range. Miami’s defense just managed to hold them to three points on most red zone drives.

The Canes offense just couldn’t find its footing. There were some positives, but inconsistency dogged them most of the afternoon and evening.

For one, I don’t understand the two-quarterback system. Unless you’ve completely given up on the season and want Morris to get some playing time, playing with two quarterbacks seems to interrupt the rhythm on offense. Making the decision even more curious is that Harris is having his best season yet. He’s already shown that he’s making better decisions and you’re trusting him to change the play at the line of scrimmage. Let him run the offense. Harris finished 20-for-31 for 225 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

Tommy Streeter caught four passes for 68 yards and Travis Benjamin went over 2,000 yards in his career—only the sixth Hurricane all-time to do so—on two receptions for 29 yards. The tight ends got involve, too. Clive Walford caught three passes for 21 yards including one touchdown and another reception brought the Canes to the one-yard line where they later scored. Chase Ford caught two passes for 21 yards.

Lamar Miller ripped off some nice runs but did not reach 100 yards on the ground for the fourth time in five weeks. He rushed for 92 yards on 22 carries. Mike James found the end zone on both of the Hurricanes’ fourth quarter touchdowns, including one that drew to within one score with 1:27 left in the game. Holder Spencer Whipple muffed the extra-point attempt, and Miami was held to six points on the final touchdown. The muff put Miami four down instead of three with the onside kick upcoming.

You have to wonder, with no FSU Wide Rights or Wide Lefts since the 2004 Orange Bowl, and two Miami Muffs since 2005, could this be the start of a another weird and, depending on your vantage point, awful trend in the series?

Kicker Jake Wieclaw put down a beautiful onside kick, but Miami could not come up with the football. Credit the Seminoles with another special teams win on the day.

The story of the afternoon was penalties, turnovers, special teams, and the referees.

Miami had nine penalties for 55 yards, and Florida State had 10 penalties for 76 yards, the Noles won the turnover battle 3-0, the FSU special teams got it done, and the questionable calls were best summed up by a fourth quarter hit delivered by FSU linebacker Nigel Bradham to Miami receiver LaRon Byrd. It was a big hit and we’re all glad Byrd’s okay, but Bradham did not launch himself, nor did he hit Byrd in the helmet. He was called for launching, and was ejected from the game.

This is Florida State’s second consecutive win in the rivalry game, and it’s the first time since 2005 that the home team came away with the victory.

The Hurricanes will face South Florida in Tampa next Saturday before the season finale against Boston College in Miami. The Seminoles take on Virginia at home before heading to Gainesville for the annual meeting with the Gators.