MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami honored its 1991 national championship team on Saturday night, the group that beat Florida State on Wide Right I.
Would you believe Saturday’s game between the bitter rivals ended on a missed extra point? Only this time, the special-teams play belonged (finally) to the Seminoles.
DeMarcus Walker blocked an extra point attempt that would have tied the game for Miami, and Florida State held on to win 20-19 — its seventh straight victory in the series. The agony of three Wide Rights won’t ever be erased, but winning on a special-teams play to essentially save the season had to be a double victory for Florida State.
After all, the Seminoles came into the game as the underdog despite their recent mastery in the series. Though the calendar only recently turned to October, the Seminoles are essentially out of the Atlantic Division race with two conference losses, and they nearly slipped out of the Top 25 this past week after losing to North Carolina. Many wondered what they had to play for entering the game against Miami.
There is one word for it: pride.
It is true Florida State looked sloppy in its first five games, as fury grew over defensive coordinator Charles Kelly and the way his defense performed. But perspective showed the Seminoles played a brutal opening schedule; Miami did not.
And Florida State still had Dalvin Cook on its side. And he has reserved some of his best games for Miami. Cook is from the area. And he spurned the Hurricanes to play for the Seminoles. His 59-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter began the comeback for the Seminoles, and Kermit Whitfield‘s 20-yard touchdown catch on the next possession essentially sealed the victory.
Quarterback Deondre Francois made both touchdown throws, with his toughness and resilience showing once again after taking yet another beating (an ongoing story line this season). But perhaps bigger than Francois and Cook was the much-maligned Seminoles defense completely shutting Miami down.
Miami came into the game averaging 235 yards rushing. Florida State held the Hurricanes to 62. Miami had 276 total yards in its most physical, challenging game to date this season.
The brutality of these bitterest rivals surfaced as early as the pregame coin toss, when a fight nearly broke out and players had to be restrained.
What came after were nasty hits, including shots that injured both quarterbacks. And there was the physicality that has defined these games in the past. Francois lost his helmet twice; Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya lost a molar. After the Hurricanes raced to a 13-3 halftime lead, Florida State showed patience.
The Seminoles had been in this spot before. And when the game ended, nothing much had changed on the scoreboard: Florida State beat Miami. Again. Only this time, the victory might have meant more than it did at any time over Florida State’s seven-game winning streak.