In game that 'sways seasons,' No. 10 Miami faces No. 23 FSU
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Jimbo Fisher has seen this scenario before.
A coach takes over a long-struggling program, more than a decade removed from its most glorious days and is asked to resuscitate it quickly. And in that coach's first season, a win over his team's biggest rival serves as that springboard back to prominence.
That's what happened for Fisher and Florida State in 2010.
And that's what Mark Richt and Miami will try to repeat now.
The 10th-ranked Hurricanes (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) host No. 23 Florida State (3-2, 0-2) on Saturday night, looking to snap a six-year losing streak in the storied series and perhaps cement themselves as a true contender in the ACC's Coastal Division.
''It's a huge game,'' Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya said. ''It sways recruiting. It sways fan bases. It sways seasons.''
Richt has been part of this series as a Miami player and Florida State assistant coach. He now gets a taste of it as a head coach for the first time, though is trying to avoid the hyperbole that almost always accompanies the buildup to a Miami-Florida State clash.
''What we need to do,'' Richt said, ''is do our job the way we're being taught to do it.''
Florida State hasn't lost back-to-back games since 2011 - the Seminoles fell at home to North Carolina last week on a field goal at the final horn - and needed heroics from star running back Dalvin Cook to rally from fourth-quarter deficits to beat the Hurricanes in each of the last two years.
''This is one of the games you came to Florida State to play in,'' said Cook, a Miami native.
Florida State - widely touted as a national-title contender coming into the season - is probably out of the ACC's Atlantic race already, though Fisher has insisted there's plenty of meaningful football left to play.
''Miami is a very good team,'' Fisher said. ''I don't know if they're Top 10, but they're undefeated. Playing very well. ... We need to perform at a very high level to have a chance to have success, and that's what our goal is and that's what our intentions are.''
Here's some of what to know going into Florida State-Miami:
POLL WATCH: Florida State's streak of 75 consecutive appearances in the AP Top 25 - the second-longest current run behind Alabama's 137 - is in jeopardy. A loss almost certainly would leave the Seminoles unranked for the first time since the Nov. 20, 2011 poll. A win would give Miami a chance at its highest ranking in 11 years; the Hurricanes went to No. 3 in 2005, and haven't been past No. 7 since.
STORM PASSES: The Miami area was minimally affected by Hurricane Matthew, which skirted past the area before lashing much the coastline on the Atlantic side of Florida with incredibly intense wind and rain Friday and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Florida State was able to fly south Friday morning, about a half-day behind what the Seminoles originally scheduled.
ONLY TWO: Miami's Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby have touchdown rushes in all four Hurricane games this season. They're the only FBS running-back duo in the country with a TD run apiece in each of their team's games this season. Also, Miami is one of two FBS schools to not trail yet this season, with Boise State being the other.
KAAYA WATCH: There are two players since 2000 with multiple 300-yard passing games against Florida State - and both are Miami quarterbacks. Ken Dorsey did it in 2000 and 2002, and Brad Kaaya has thrown for 316 and 405 in his first two outings, respectively, against the Seminoles. Florida State gave up exactly 405 yards passing last week as well, to North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky.
DRIVE FOR FIVE: Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois will try to become the fifth consecutive Seminole starter to win his debut game against Miami, joining Christian Ponder (2008), EJ Manuel (2011), Jameis Winston (2013) and Everett Golson (2015). The last Florida State quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in his first start against Miami and lose was Chris Rix in 2001. Rix wound up going 0-5 against the Hurricanes.