By: Nicholas Austin-Holliday
Miami, Florida – The Hard Rock Stadium housed a raucous sellout crowd as undefeated #10 ranked Miami was ready to take on flailing #23 ranked FSU. After six straight wins for FSU Miami’s level of confidence was definitely warranted. Miami had been beating teams into submission while FSU had lost two of their last three games and were plagued by defensive struggles in pretty much every game they had played so far.
FSU started the game with some strong defense by sacking Brad Kaaya and then ended up forcing UM to punt. It seems routine to start the game but it was huge for the FSU defense that had given up a touchdown on the first drive to every power five opponent they played so far. UM was then able to return the favor when on defense. On a big fourth down for FSU, the ball was batted down as a wide open Dalvin Cook was in the flats waiting on the pass and UM took over on offense. The FSU defense was able to counter and force another three and out which was new territory for both teams. FSU had up points early and often and UM had put up big numbers on all of their opponents so far in the season. UM was the first team to put points on the board after on a 37 yard field goal by Michael Badgley after an 8 play 39 yard drive was stalled by the FSU defense. The first quarter ended with Miami up 3-0, UM had collectively outscored their opponents 45-0 in the first quarter of games this season.
To start the second quarter the teams traded three and outs until Miami was able to strike with a corner touchdown catch by Stacy Coley. The catch had to be reviewed and the touchdown was awarded to Miami. With just over a minute left in the half Michael Badgley added a 51 yard field goal to put UM up 13-0. FSU’s Ricky Aguayo then nailed a 31 yard field goal to put FSU on the board for the first time in the game. UM took the lead into halftime up 13-3 on FSU.
FSU got the ball back to start the second half but Miami forced a three and out on FSU’s first drive. On the ensuing UM drive FSU linebacker Matthew Thomas was ejected for a vicious targeting hit against Brad Kaaya which was a huge loss for FSU and their linebacker depth. The hit was so hard that it knocked part of Kaaya’s tooth out. On the same drive Kaaya threw a corner route into the end zone which was intercepted by Tarvarus McFadden. FSU was then able to put up their first touchdown of the game on a nice 59 yard throwback pass from Francois to a wide open Dalvin Cook streaking down the left sideline. FSU then followed that up with another touchdown after a methodical seven plays 60 yard drive which ended with a 20 yard touchdown pass from Francois to Kermit Whitfield. FSU was then able to extend their lead by adding another field goal by Ricky Aguayo to go up 20-13.
In the fourth quarter UM added their own ejection for targeting, Jamal Carter hit Kermit Whitfield high and was flagged and ejected. The referees reviewed the call and it stood but it did not stand well with fans. This pushed the Miami fans into a frenzy, fans booed and threw water bottles on the field to show their displeasure of the call. After things calmed down and the field was cleaned off play resumed.
With the game winding down UM forced FSU to punt. Braxton Berrios received the punt, made multiple defenders missed and returned the punt for 43 yards to the FSU 16. Berrios had a great chance to score but punter Logan Tyler was the last line of defense and was able to trip him up. With the crowd on their feet UM would begin what would be their last offensive series of the game.
The series came down to a 4th and five for UM. Miami with their backs against the wall on 4th down scored a go ahead touchdown on a deadly accurate pass from Brad Kaaya to Stacy Coley and even cheers rang out from the press box. Michael Badgley, who had made 72 straight extra points, lined up to tie the game with a simple kick. In a weird turn of events his extra point was blocked by FSU’s Demarcus Walker which caused the FSU bench to explode in excitement. FSU then got the ball back for one more critical offensive possession. Miami had 3 timeouts left but FSU was able to run the clock out, burn the remaining Miami timeouts, and kneel down to end the game.
The win gave FSU their 7th win in a row against Miami and bragging rights for another year. The game was filled with big time plays and hard hits which is exactly what is expected from one of the top rivalries in college football. Both teams still have much to play for but there’s something special about beating your rival 7 times in a row. Jimbo Fisher has continued to own the series against all of FSU’s instate rivals since taking over as head coach. I’m sure that all football fans look forward to Jimbo Fisher and Mark Richt battling it out for many years to come.