Note: If you're looking for the 2013 Week 10 matchup between these teams, please go here: Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida State Seminoles Pick.
No. 23 Florida State Seminoles (4-1, 4-1 ATS) at No. 13 Miami Hurricanes (3-1, 3-1 ATS), Week Six College Football, Saturday October 2nd, 8:00PM Eastern Landshark Stadium Miami, F.L.
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: FSU +6.5/Mia -6.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
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Two top 25 teams from the ACC take center stage Saturday night when the Miami Hurricanes host their rival Florida State Seminoles in a nationally televised event. This rivalry game at one time was among the most popular rivalries in the country when the two teams consistently battled with National Championship implications on a yearly basis. However, over the past few years with both teams going through setbacks in their programs the Florida State-Miami lost some of its importance. Now they may not be contending for a National Championship, but this game has ACC Championship importance written all over it.
The no. 13 ranked Hurricanes pulled off an impressive road victory at Clemson last week 30-21. In that game the Miami defense was the difference for the 2nd straight week. After shutting down Pittsburgh on the national stage on Thursday night two weeks ago, the Hurricanes defense forced 6 turnovers in route to their big win over Clemson. WR Leonard Hankerson had a breakout game catching 7 passes for 147 yards and touchdowns. QB Jacory Harris had a pretty poor performance completing well less than half of his passes with 2 picks, but the Canes standout did manage some big plays resulting in 205 yards passing for 4 touchdowns. Harris has been under heavy criticism in weeks for his inconsistency and he can not afford to keep throwing interceptions as the year progresses.
Harris and the passing attack will be worth watching this week when the face a similar high power passing attack in Florida State. Fireworks could definitely be on the menu for such a battle between strong offensive minded teams. Miami is averaging 32 points per game while the Seminoles are a touch better averaging 35 points per contest. However, it is the Miami defense that continues to impress. The Hurricanes defense is ranked 12th in the nation holding teams to just 266 yards per game and they also sport the 15th ranked scoring defense holding opponents to 15 points per game. Among the defensive front, Miami is even more talented. The Hurricanes defensive front leads the nation in tackles for loss and rank 2nd in sacks. Considering how often the offense has given opponents second chances to move the football, those defensive numbers are extremely impressive.
Of course on the other side of the field, Florida State has been getting the job done very similar to the way Miami has been. The Seminoles defensive front nearly mirrors Miami exactly. Where Miami is 1st in tackles for loss and 2nd in sacks, the Seminoles are 2nd in tackles for loss and 1st in sacks. Therefore, it is safe to say there will be some intensity to watch among the defensive fronts this Saturday night. The Seminoles defense is a bit better against the run holding teams to just 74 yards per game and that could definitely play a factor. Despite Miami's passing reputation, they like to run the ball as well. If Florida State shuts the rushing game down, it puts even more pressure on the inconsistent Jacory Harris.
Still the Seminoles offense will have to manage to put up points against that Miami dominating force. So far the offense has performed well averaging 433 yards per game. The surprising factor to those numbers is the majority of the production has come from the ground rather than the air. QB Christian Ponder is the most experienced starter in the ACC and has completed 60% passing for 8 touchdowns, and 3 picks so far this season. However, the running game has provided the sparks. Running backs Jermaine Thomas, Ty Jones, and Chris Thompson have all been promising. Thomas leads the team with 308 yards and 4 touchdowns and rushed for 122 in last week's 31-14 win over Virginia. Jones sat out that game with an ankle injury which allowed Chris Thompson to get some touches. Thompson did not disappoint with 10 carries for 76 yards and a score. Jones will be a full go this Saturday again, but all backs will likely get their share of carries.
If the ground game has trouble moving against the Miami defense which may be the case, then the Seminoles will rely on Ponder to move the ball through the air. Ponder is a proven leader and does a good job of keeping ball control. WR Bert Reed is the biggest playmaker on the outside and has caught 28 passes for 251 yards. Also wide outs Taiwan Easterling and Willie Haulstead can make plays in the passing game as well. It would not surprising for neither offense to get much going on the ground, therefore this could turn out to be a quarterback dual. If that happens, Ponder needs to deliver for the Seminoles offense.
Jay's pick to cover the point spread: I expect Florida State to get pressure on Harris and expect him to continue turning the ball over. Harris was just 13 of 33 last week and the Seminoles will get even more pressure on him this week. Florida State wins this game, points are just extra. Take FSU +6.5.
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