CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – The University of Miami enters its Saturday night game with FSU as the highest ranked team in the state of Florida for the first time since November 14th 2010.
The Canes are ranked 10th in the nation while FSU will enter 23rd. For Canes head Coach Mark Richt it’s nice, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot.
“I am happy and thankful to be 4-0, that’s what you want; you want to win every game and all,” said Richt. “But you coach 33 years and it’s not that big of a deal. We’re on Game 5…all games, to me, are a big deal, period. Every conference game is bigger than a nonconference game, every Coastal game – by rule, rules of engagement in terms of who is going to make to the championship game – there’s a little more weight on those. And every conference game counts on our record. It’s a big game, for sure.”
This game boils down to two numbers: 4 and 44.
4 is FSU running back Dalvin Cook. The junior from Miami Central High School leads the nation in total yards from scrimmage 921 and has the most rushing yards of any power five running backs 635.
Miami will have to create traffic at the line of scrimmage to slow him down and must tackle him for 60 minutes.
“We have to get population around the ball for the entire game,” said Canes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “It’s important that we get him moving sideways before he gets going. Arm tackling isn’t going to be good enough. We need to have a lot of Orange jerseys around him all night.”
Over the last two years, Cook has scored five touchdowns against Miami. He ran for 222 yards against the Canes during their meeting last season.
44 is FSU defensive end DeMarcus Walker, considered one of the most tenacious pass rushers in the nation.
Last season Walker had two sacks against Miami. It’s vital the Canes keep Walker out of their backfield and don’t allow him to badger quarterback Brad Kaaya.
“We have to account for Walker on every play,” Richt said. “Sometimes we’ll have to block him one on one and sometimes we’ll have double teams. We have to be ready for his challenge and can’t allow him to wreck the game. He’s been a real point of emphasis for us this week. We have tremendous respect for how hard he plays.”
Running the ball is always a key in the annual meeting between Miami and Florida State. While FSU is determined to feed the ball to Dalvin Cook, the Canes will feature Mark Walton and Joe Yearby.
Over the last 29 years, the team that has rushed for more yards in this game has been the winner.
“I think it’s the same. I think it’s being able to be balanced on offense, which I think means being able to run the football when it’s time to run the football,” said hurricanes offensive coordinator Thomas Brown. “Also set up some opportunities to throw the ball down the field. It’s going to give us a chance to keep the ball moving, keep our defense off the field, and score some points.”
Florida State has won six straight games against the Hurricanes.
The last time Miami defeated FSU was Labor day night in 2009. The last time Miami celebrated a home victory against the Seminoles was 2004.
Miami is 2nd in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 11 points per game, 7th in total defense at 253 yards per game, 27th in run defense, 4th in sacks with 17 and number 1 in tackles for loss with 48.