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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami/AP) -— The last time the University of Miami won a home game against Florida State, the Hurricanes wound up celebrating on the turf of the fabled Orange Bowl.
That stadium was bulldozed a decade ago.
The Hurricanes haven’t won at home over their biggest rival since 2004, a streak that No. 17 Miami (4-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) will once again try to snap when they play host to the Seminoles (3-2, 1-2) on Saturday.
“The last two times at home, we’ve had them. We more than had them,” Miami defensive end Joe Jackson said. “But you’ve got to be able to finish. And that’s what’s different about our team now — we’ve been able to finish and close games over these last two years.”
Jackson has been to the last two FSU at Miami games — 2014 as a recruit, 2016 as a freshman. He basically saw the same game twice; Miami ran out to quick double-digit early leads in each matchup, only to let them slip away and lose at the end. Jackson is a junior, so even if he returns in 2019 for his final season he won’t have another chance to play Florida State on his home field.
That means if the home drought against FSU is going to end on his watch, it’s now or never.
“It’s very important,” Jackson said.
That’s the sentiment that about 100 other Hurricanes are sharing this week. Miami snapped a seven-game overall losing streak against Florida State by winning in Tallahassee last season, and now the Hurricanes hope it’s time to end the home drought as well.
“There’s nothing I’d rather have than us to win at home,” Miami offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier said. “I mean, it’s my senior year. You’ve got to beat Florida State your senior year. That’s just the way it is — and doing it at home is going to be awesome.”
It won’t be easy, because it never is. The oddsmakers list Miami as nearly a two-touchdown favorite but 14 of the last 17 games in the series have been decided by eight points or less, and each of the last four games have not seen either side win by more than five points.
Florida State has actually won each of its last eight appearances in Miami — 6-0 against the Hurricanes, 2-0 in the Orange Bowls that followed the 2012 and 2016 seasons. The Seminoles are unranked, probably out of the ACC race and already twice-beaten this season, but are clearly not hurting for confidence as they prepare for this one.
“Big game. Big rivalry,” Florida State running back Cam Akers said. “Two instate teams. Two of the most prestigious games in college football. This game is always one for the books. A history game. A game you can make a name for yourself in.”
There is an oddity about this series: Florida State has a winning record at Miami, and Miami has a winning record at Florida State. The Seminoles once had an eight-game road winning streak over Miami, the Hurricanes once had a five-game road winning streak over Florida State. And somehow, neither program has managed to ever win more than five in a row on its own field.
“It has been since 2004 that Miami has won at home in this series,” Hurricanes coach Mark Richt said. “That’s not very good. It’s about bad as the seven losses in a row that we were dealing with going into last year’s game. So that’s a meaningful bit of history that we need to kind of change the course of.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)