The college football season may still be weeks away, but Telegraph reporter Coley Harvey is here to start getting you ready. As teams across the ACC prepare for the ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C. on July 25-26, they can’t help but turn their attention toward the fall. With the conference as competitive as it has ever been, the ACC schedule boasts several key matchups this year that could help determine its eventual champion. Here is game No. 10 on our countdown:
No. 3 — Florida State at Miami
Date: Oct. 9
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
When these old, bitter rivals do battle in October, might it be a preview of the conference championship? Photo Credit: fanhouse.com
Last meeting: In a Labor Day meeting under the lights, Miami held a stockpile of fireworks in its reserve, striking late in an emotional, back-and-forth 38-34 road victory over Florida State. The latest in a testy rivalry series that over the years has featured wide-ranging intrigue such as missed field goals, pregame fights and bitter lack of respect, the 2009 contest held drama that even a mega sports broadcasting giant couldn’t have scripted. “That was a great television game,” Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden said after the nationally televised event. Stamping his place in Miami lore at a young age, Hurricanes sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris threw for 386 yards, 40 of which came on a pass into double coverage across the middle that up Miami’s eventual game-winning score with 1:53 left. Then, on its subsequent defensive series, Miami held firm, holding off a Florida State touchdown attempt as time expired. Former Carver (Columbus) standout Jarmon Fortson tried to haul in a low throw in the end zone for the Seminoles on the final play, but video replay showed it hit the ground before he could cleanly catch it.
Recent history: One of the ACC’s most competitive series, the teams traded wins during the latter half of the last decade, with Florida State winning in 2005, 2006 and 2008. In addition to last year, the Hurricanes won in 2007. Before that, Miami owned Florida State, winning the six meetings between 2000 and 2004.
What’s at stake: The right to be declared first back atop the ACC heap rests with this game. For both the Hurricanes and Seminoles, the last few seasons have been years the programs would rather try to forget. Far from the glory years of Hurricanes smashmouth dominance, and long gone from the days when Bowden routinely ran out a national title contender, the teams and their rivalry have looked like gentle giants when compared to their lion-like times of lore. But with each dubbed programs on the rise by various pundits and publications this summer, expect this Oct. 9 meeting to tell whether one or both has truly arrived back at the summit of the ACC’s elite. A win for Florida State likely will be even more validating. In part because it will make up for last year’s loss, but also to show that under new head coach Jimbo Fisher, the program can return to its 1990s level of success. Consequently, the game could have an impact on the conference title race, as both teams are expected to be among the best in their respective divisions this year.
Subplots: Keeping with the theme of the teams on the rise, could this be Round 1 of a potential rematch in the ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C.? It is wholly possible given the return of Ponder, Florida State’s strong-armed and experienced signal-caller. For Miami, this renaissance resurgence rests on the right shoulder of Harris, the flashy, young quarterback whose calmness in the pocket this season could help the Hurricanes glide just as smoothly back into relevance. While offense will be the story of this game, pay close attention to the defenses. The team whose defense gets that big last stop in the last minute, much like last season, likely will win this game.