TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It’s a week that nearly needs no introduction.
When in-state rival Miami is next on the schedule, the attention and focus becomes razor-sharp. At least, that’s the way it seemed around the Florida State football program Monday as preparation for Saturday’s showdown by the No. 23 Seminoles and No. 13 Hurricanes began in earnest.
First-year Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who has been involved in a number of traditional rivalry games through his 22 years as an assistant, is looking forward to his first as the Seminoles’ boss.
“I’m excited to be a part of it,” Fisher said. “You go into your career and to get involved in some of the great traditional rivalries in college football you feel very blessed. When you’re a kid watching TV, growing up wishing you could be a part of that, this is one of them you talk about all the time. It’ll be a great game on Saturday. I’ll be very blessed to be in it and look forward to the opportunity to competing in it. They have got a great program and are coached well, have great players so we’ll have to be on our A-game.”
Those feelings are shared throughout the Florida State roster.
Sophomore tailback Chris Thompson grew up in nearby Madison, Fla. but remembers following the FSU-Miami games closely as a child. Saturday he’ll get his first taste of the rivalry South Florida style, when the Seminoles visit Sun Life Stadium.
“It means a lot,” Thompson said. “Ever since I have been watching football (they have) always been the biggest games of my life, to sit down watch Florida State-Miami and Florida State-Florida. So it’s fun to be part of one of those teams and be able to actually play against them.”
The 55th meeting between the programs could well follow a similar pattern as the last seven meetings, which have been decided by a total of 28 points; or just four points a game on average. Statistically the Seminoles and Hurricanes are evenly matched as they lean on their defenses to lead them back to the upper echelon of college football.
These are the kind of games that bring out the competitors on both sides of the football.
“Sometimes you do things in games that guys will never do on the practice field,” Fisher said. “It’s a pride about them, a competition level and that’s the thing that makes athletics to me so great. There’s nothing you can predict, in what the competition brings out of someone. Some guys don’t know they’ve even got it in them, that’s what makes it so special to me you see guys evolve and grow as people.”
Fisher attributes that competitiveness between the programs as one reason for the rash of tight games.
Junior tight end Beau Reliford can attest to the pride involved.
“A lot of the [Miami] guys I went to school with, played high school down there,” said Reliford, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s a big challenge to show those guys we have all developed and I want to see how they have developed in college too. So, it’s just a pride thing to me; just going trying not to lose. My main goal is to go hard and give the fans what they want to see.”
The stakes are often high when the teams meet, though this is the first time since 2006 that both the Seminoles and Hurricanes carry national rankings into the game.
“This game is always a big game,” Fisher said. “With the implications in-state and to be the state champion of Florida will put you into that national title talk. It does mean a lot. It can help us grow and go to where we need to be and that’s one of the reasons you come to Florida State - to be in this game and we want to get back up there.”
McMahon, Jones honored by ACC
Senior center Ryan McMahon and freshman linebacker Christian Jones earned ACC Player of the Week honors for their respective performances in the Seminoles’ 34-14 victory at Virginia on Saturday.
McMahon, who has made 44 consecutive starts, earned his first Offensive Lineman of the Week honor after posting a season-high grade of 87 percent. The Savannah, Ga. native had just one missed assignment in 71 snaps as the Seminoles amassed 428 total yards, including
256 rushing yards. It marked the third consecutive 200-plus rushing yardage performance for FSU; something the program had not done since 2000.
Jones, who replaced starting linebacker Mister Alexander in the second quarter, registered a team-high six tackles. Among those stops was his second career sack from the strongside linebacker position and his first career pass break-up. His was instrumental in the effort which limited the Cavaliers to a season-low 25 rushing yards and registered six sacks to improve its nation-leading total.
Heisman Trust honors Warrick Dunn
Former FSU star tailback Warrick Dunn was selected Monday as the fifth recipient of the Heisman Humanitarian Award, presented by the Heisman Trophy Trust. Established in 2006, the award recognizes those in the world of sports who have given significantly of themselves to serve the community and improve the life of others. Dunn started the Homes for the Holidays program in 1997, his rookie season in the NFL, to honor his late mother’s dream of home ownership. He went on the established the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation, which increases the programs and services offered to single-parent families. By the end of the year Dunn will have assisted 100 single parents and their more than 265 children and dependents in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Tallahassee and Tampa with the American Dream – the purchase of their first home.
Boston College Parent’s Day game set for 12 noon
Florida State’s Oct. 16 Parent’s Weekend home game against Boston College will be a 12 noon kickoff, according to the Atlantic Coast Conference office and the league’s television partners. The game will be broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2.