Hurricanes eager for challenge of facing No. 2 FSU
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) After the final play of practice Monday morning, a slew of Miami Hurricanes surrounded one of their teammates to jump and yell in celebration.
So obviously, Miami's week started well.
The trick will be ending it the same way.
It's Florida State-Miami time, the annual renewal of one of college football's top rivalries that has been one-sided in recent years, but is still the game that gets both sides going like no other.
Miami is fully aware of the massive challenge that the Seminoles (9-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) will provide, but the Hurricanes also know Saturday night's matchup represents a chance to take a giant step forward.
''It's an enormous opportunity to prove something to the world,'' Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya said. ''A lot of people doubted us, I'm sure a lot of people still continue to and they have good reason to. We just have to keep progressing as a team.''
Winning this one, yes, that would classify as progressing.
The FSU resume: Defending national champions, reigning Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback in Jameis Winston, school-record 25 straight wins, 42-3 in its past 45 games, four straight wins over the Hurricanes, currently ranked No. 2 in the nation and in prime position to grab one of the spots in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
The Seminoles know Miami (6-3, 3-2) would love to put a serious dent into all that.
''The mentality probably will be different because we've got players from the state of Florida that know about this rivalry and just live and breathe this rivalry,'' Winston said.
''It's definitely going to be a great experience for me to go to Miami and play against those guys because they have a great team, and they're looking to be the team to beat us.''
Consider that a bit of an understatement.
''You come to Miami,'' Hurricanes offensive lineman Shane McDermott said, ''to beat Florida State.''
Florida State hasn't let that happen since 2009, winning the past four meetings by a combined 142-70.
While oddsmakers have expected Seminole romps in recent years, the Hurricanes are merely 2 1/2-point underdogs this time around. Miami has won its past three games overall and 13 of its past 14 at home.
''Everybody involved in it knows it's a big game,'' Miami coach Al Golden said. ''We've just got to focus on what we can control and we've been doing a good job of that over the last month.''
Both sides are loaded with players from Florida, many from South Florida, and as usual there's plenty of high school rivalries that will carry over into the college matchup.
Hundreds of recruits either attend or pay extremely close attention to the game, it's a rare guaranteed home sellout for the Hurricanes and once again, it'll be shown nationally in prime time.
Then again, by now, Florida State is used to the spotlight.
And they know how motivated Miami will be when this kicks off.
''I think they've grown to accept that and I think they've grown to really relish it because it's a sign of respect,'' Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.
''It's where you want to be when you're a coach or a player. You want to be that program who everyone aims for. That's part of success. People say dealing with failure's hard. Well, dealing with success is hard, in the fact that ... people are coming for you.''
That's what Miami will be doing on Saturday night.
''It's the biggest game,'' Golden said, ''because it's the next game.''