PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – It was fun while it lasted.
That's my prognostication for this weekend's rivalry game between the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes.
I'm coming to terms with the fact that FSU's historic run against the Hurricanes on their own stomping grounds is coming to an end.
Come Saturday evening, I likely will no longer be able to say that FSU hasn't lost in South Florida since Sept. 10, 2004.
Put that into perspective for a moment. The last time 'Canes fans experienced the thrill of victory against their rival within the confines of Miami-Dade County, George W. Bush was president. Larry Coker was coaching the 'Canes and Bobby Bowden was still coaching the 'Noles. Hurricane Frances made landfall in Florida just five days earlier, forcing the game to be moved from Labor Day. The old Orange Bowl was still a thing. And the game was Miami's first as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Three coaches, 64 ACC wins and one Coastal Division title later, the 'Canes remain in search of their first home win against FSU since moving into Hard Rock Stadium after the 2007 season.
I didn't get down to South Florida until 2005 when I took a job at Local 10. I attended my first FSU-Miami game as a South Florida resident the next year, walking out of the Orange Bowl -- for the final time -- victorious after FSU's Michael Ray Garvin sealed the 13-10 win by picking off Miami quarterback Kyle Wright's pass with 29 seconds left.
Then there was the high-scoring tsunami game of 2008 (FSU 41, Miami 39), Jimbo Fisher's first taste of the rivalry in a blowout win in 2010 (FSU 45, Miami 17), Miami native Devonta Freeman's pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in 2012 (FSU 33, Miami 20), the Jameis Winston-led comeback win in 2014 (FSU 30, Miami 26) and, most recently, DeMarcus Walker's game-saving block on a PAT attempt with 1:38 left in a game dubbed the "Block at the Rock" (FSU 20, Miami 19).
I've been to them all -- each time walking out with a sense of pride and accomplishment (even though the only thing I accomplished was showing up).
Anyways, it got me thinking -- Saturday will mark 5,139 days since Sept. 10, 2004. That's an agonizing drought.
I remember how I felt when the Seminoles endured six straight losses to Miami when I was in school. Yes, I said six. (Lest you begin poking fun at my academic track, let's just say I took a redshirt year, and don't forget that FSU and Miami played twice during the 2003 season).
By the time FSU finally won in 2005, the Seminoles were breaking in a new, young quarterback and seemed to capitalize on Miami's mistakes at the most opportune time. You know, the kind of things that always seemed to go Miami's way when it comes to this rivalry.
That's kind of my fear about Saturday.
Yes, Miami had to squeak it out with six seconds left last year to snap a seven-game losing streak to FSU (the most consecutive wins by either team since they started playing annually in 1969). Yes, that was without FSU's starting quarterback, who was injured in the season opener. But at least last year's team had a proven winner calling the plays (in Jimbo we trust) and an offense that you just knew was capable (albeit slowly) of scoring at any given time.
This Willie Taggart-led team just hasn't looked the part.
MIAMI SPORTS SOCIAL - Local 10's Will Manso is LIVE from the newsroom talking about this Saturday's Canes and 'Noles on Local 10.Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Tuesday, October 2, 2018
So what's it going to take for FSU to pull out a win? Well, I keep telling myself that these games are, more often than not, close and the team with the better stats usually loses (advantage FSU). The 'Canes could have an off day with a young quarterback making just his second career start (after all, playing FSU isn't like playing North Carolina) and FSU has shown signs of life offensively each of the last two weekends, admittedly against lesser defenses. Any one of these factors could be the difference between FSU winning or losing.
These things seem to come in waves, and maybe the pendulum is beginning to swing in Miami's favor.
If FSU falls Saturday, fans shouldn't get too down. There are other streaks to uphold (there's a certain team in Gainesville that hasn't won at home since 2009).
But, no matter what happens Saturday, we'll probably never see another run like the one we've been living for 5,139 days….and counting?