The tenth-ranked Miami Hurricanes face off with the twenty-third ranked Florida State Seminoles in one of the most important games in the storied rivalry between the two in-state schools. Under first-year coach Mark Richt, the Hurricanes are off to a terrific start, not because they have won their first four games but because of the fashion those wins have come in. The Canes have looked dominant at times and in control nearly always, something that couldn't be said over the last five years at least and ten-plus years at most.
Enter the Florida State Seminoles, who were ranked second in the country just a few short weeks ago. They come into Miami for the 8 p.m. Saturday game at Hard Rock Stadium as a wounded animal sporting one of the worst defenses in the nation. The Seminoles are 2-2 and a shell of their former championship selves. Locals want defensive coordinator Charles Kelly fired, but Jimbo Fisher is unlikely to whack his friend. Sound familiar? It should.
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It's no secret that the Hurricanes have lost six straight games to Florida State. It's also no secret that Florida State has flat-out been the better football team for the better part of a decade. It's definitely not a secret that the Seminoles have used those two facts to kill Miami on the recruiting trail, including stealing some local products who have been a huge factor in the Noles dominance, most notably running backs Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook. A victory on Saturday night could go a long way in changing the rivalry's narrative. It might turn some of those recruits' paths away from Tallahassee and back to Coral Gables.
Does a win against Florida State mean the Hurricanes are back? It depends on your definition of "back." In title contention? No, not really; the Hurricanes are not on the same level as Alabama. Does it mean the Hurricanes are leaders on the recruiting trail in Florida, and possibly in the Atlantic Coast Conference? It certainly would be the first step in that direction, one Al Golden could never take in his time here.
Saturday is one of the biggest games in the FSU-UM rivalry for a variety of reasons. There might not be any 2016 titles on the line, but there could be multiple future trophies up in the air.