4 random thoughts on Florida State vs. Miami Hurricanes

The stakes, as usual, are high for Saturday’s Florida State-Miami game. The No. 4 Seminoles can inch closer to their first College Football Playoff appearance since 2014, while Mario Cristobal’s Hurricanes will look for a program-changing win — like the one Mike Norvell had against Miami in his second season.

Personal legacies are at stake, too, especially at quarterback.

Here are four random thoughts as kickoff nears:

This is another legacy game for Jordan Travis

Jordan Travis has already put himself into the annals of FSU-Miami history with his 2021 heroics — his fourth-and-14 pass to Andrew Parchment that set up his short touchdown run that gave the Seminoles a 31-28 victory.

“It did change my life — a lot,” Travis told reporters in Tallahassee this week.

Travis’ role in last year’s 45-3 rout at Hard Rock Stadium shouldn’t be overlooked, either. But Saturday provides another, potentially historic opportunity. As best we can tell, Travis can become FSU’s first starting quarterback to beat Miami in three consecutive years. Others have come close — Leto High alumnus Gary Huff contributed to three in a row from 1970-72 but didn’t start in the first — but Travis has a realistic shot at topping that.

Miami’s quarterback situation is confounding

If Travis’ fourth-and-14 pass had fallen incomplete, then Tyler Van Dyke’s performance for Miami would have been the lasting image of the 2021 game. That’s because Van Dyke threw three second-half touchdown passes to turn a 20-7 deficit into a 28-20 lead with 11 minutes left — as a freshman, no less. His attempt to gut through obvious injury in last year’s loss was admirable, too.

But Van Dyke has struggled over the last month. He has thrown twice as many interceptions (10) as touchdowns (five) in his last four games, including back-to-back games without a score. Cristobal was noncommittal about whether Van Dyke or three-star freshman Emory Williams will start; Williams completed 24 of his 33 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown in last month’s double-overtime win over Clemson.

It’s hard to fathom that Miami is in this situation after Van Dyke’s sensational debut season. But the ‘Canes will have to weigh Van Dyke’s valuable experience against his rough recent showings as they play their toughest, biggest game of the year.

Miami’s path to an upset is through …

Running the ball. The Hurricanes’ rushing average (5.16 yards per carry) ranks third in the ACC and 16th in the country. One of the teams ahead of Miami is Duke, which ran for 197 yards and a touchdown at FSU last month. The Seminoles’ run defense is merely average (tied for 60th nationally with 3.99 yards allowed per rush).

When Cristobal was asked about the team’s progress during Monday’s news conference, the first thing he cited was an improved run game that has churned out “tough yards.” Those yards will be tougher against one of the nation’s top 20 red-zone defenses, but Miami must find a way to get them to have a shot at victory.

FSU is poised for a major statement

A 10-0 start to the season and third consecutive win in the series are the most important numbers at play for FSU. But we’ll add one more.

As of late Thursday morning, FSU was favored by two touchdowns according to the sportsbooks we checked. If the ‘Noles can cover that spread, they’ll have back-to-back victories over Miami by at least 14 points for the first time since 1995-97, when the Bobby Bowden dynasty was in full effect and the ‘Canes were slogging through the early Butch Davis days. Another dominant FSU triumph will also have ramifications on the recruiting trail — for both programs.

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