Florida State physically wore down Miami on Saturday. It took them until late in the third quarter to do so, but the Seminoles pounded their way to a heart-stopping 20-19 victory, knocking the Hurricanes from the ranks of the undefeated in the latest thrilling chapter of this heated rivalry. This highly emotional encounter was decided by a blocked extra point kick in the final 1:38 of the fourth quarter.
The Canes looked like the better team for at least one half, building a 13-0 lead before settling for a 13-3 halftime advantage. However, they couldn’t carry that momentum through the second half. Despite making a last-ditch effort, they came up just short for the first time this season. Their 20-13 deficit — unable to be turned into a tie — marked the first time the Canes had trailed all year long.
The Canes have come a long way in a short time under head coach Mark Richt in his first season at The U. Those still giving him and his new team no respect are running out of excuses.
Miami slipped to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in ACC play but still has much to play for this season.
Road wins over Appalachian State and Georgia Tech may not seem like much, but this is a different Miami team; a team that — while it failed to break a six-game losing streak to Florida State — gave its neighbors to the north all they could handle.
Granted, this wasn’t the best Seminole team ever to play Miami, but the Canes didn’t shy away from their scheduled opponent on Saturday. They didn’t use weather conditions as an excuse to postpone their game. They had the guts to take the field and meet the challenge.
Meet it they did; the Canes used a solid defensive effort to valiantly battle one of their biggest ACC obstacles. Whether or not FSU will be their stiffest challenge on the road to a coveted (and first) Coastal Division title remains to be seen. North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Pitt lurk in successive upcoming ACC games which will certainly test the Canes’ mettle.
So far, however, Richt’s Canes have displayed the grit and tenacity exhibited by his better teams at Georgia.
Is Miami ready to take on the likes of Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Washington, or perhaps Clemson? Probably not; not just yet anyway.
If they can keep improving week to week, who knows — maybe in early December they’ll get their chance against Clemson. By then, who knows how much the Canes will continue to improve in Richt’s first season at The U?
As the competition has gotten stronger and stronger with each passing week, this Canes team continues to learn and get more comfortable with a new system, not only offensively but defensively as well.
The effort can’t be questioned; it’s there, just ask those woozy opponents needing help off the field following a crushing collision. Give Richt time to fully implement his system. Then give him time to continue to recruit the depth the program has desperately sought for many years. The Canes could very well put themselves in position to compete with the upper echelon in college football once again.
They competed well against Florida State; they just didn’t win.
Sometimes, that happens. One day, the Canes hope they’ll be strong enough that they won’t have to worry about the scenario which befell them on Saturday night.