MIAMI – While most Hurricanes players echoed the thoughts of their head coach all week that this is "just another game" for Miami, we know the truth: this is THE game that can define every Miami season.
This season even more so because Al Golden's job is on the line and beating Florida State for the first time can give him a reprieve.
The Hurricanes haven't beaten their rivals from Florida State since 2009. Randy Shannon was the head coach for UM in that game. Golden has gotten four cracks at the Seminoles and lost each time. This will likely be his last chance if he doesn't win.
So can it happen? The answer is, of course, yes. While it's easy to pick on the 'Canes struggles, especially after losing at Cincinnati, the reality is they do have enough talented players to beat an FSU team still trying to find its stride.
The 'Noles are undefeated, but the offense still hasn't looked comfortable under first-year quarterback Everett Golson. His talent is there, but the Notre Dame transfer just doesn't have the FSU offense clicking yet.
Now enter a Miami defense that seems to make every opposing offense click.
Dalvin Cook's injury status could certainly be an advantage for Miami. Cook is a dynamic playmaker who is recovering from a hamstring injury. All signs point to Cook playing, but hamstring injuries are always tricky.
Whether Cook is 100 percent won't matter though if the 'Canes defense doesn't sure up some major holes. They need to get off the field and avoid long drives. I think Miami's offense can have some success, but they can't fall behind too quickly and become one-dimensional.
The opportunity will be there for Miami to keep this game close and finally snap a five-game losing streak to the Seminoles. But, I just don't see it happening.
Miami's formula for failure under Golden in big games is just too consistent. It's always a defensive breakdown, missed tackle or big penalty that sets this team back from getting that statement win.
Let's hope for 'Canes fans that it's finally time to break the cycle.
Prediction: FSU 26-20.
Prediction record for the season: 3-1.
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