SI Vault
Rick Telander
September 12, 1988
Miami's 31-0 defeat of Florida State, the preseason No. 1, silenced the Seminoles
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September 12, 1988

No More Rap Or Rep

Miami's 31-0 defeat of Florida State, the preseason No. 1, silenced the Seminoles

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Hunker down, all you little future Florida State gridders, and let's talk some real useful trash. Rule No. 1 of college football: Don't make nasty rap videos proclaiming yourselves the top team in the nation until you've got a good reason to do so—such as winning a game. (Never mind when the writers pick you before the season begins. If we knew anything, we would all be cranking out Harlequin romances and making a bundle.)

Rule No. 2: Don't make rap videos of any kind. As an art form, rap ranks with spray-painted subway cars and is best left to boys named Beastie or Fat.

Now, that said, let's remind the world that this year's Florida State football team did make one of the above-mentioned bits of video garbage, proclaiming itself No. 1 in a noxious dirge entitled The Seminole Rap, which debuted on a Tallahassee TV station last week. While fans in northern Florida were still learning the words so they could rap along with their heroes, the Noles traveled to the Orange Bowl, where the University of Miami thrashed them 31-0.

This game, moved to the top of the schedule after the University of Florida canceled its traditional early-season showdown with the Hurricanes, was a prime-time network stinker, a major hoopla-deflater, a far cry from last year's 26-25 thriller won by Miami in Tallahassee on Oct. 3. That game came down to the final seconds and cost Florida State a shot at the national championship. This one, a blowout from the opening kickoff, a game in which Miami outgained the Seminoles 450 yards to 242, came down to, oh, the final four quarters and may have cost Florida State the right to appear in public for a while.

How bad were the Seminoles? So bad that third-string Miami halfback Fred (Not Alonzo, He's My Cousin) High-smith rushed for five times the yardage made by Sammie Smith, Florida State's Heisman hopeful. Make that former hopeful. Smith had six net yards on 10 carries and is still tweezing defenders out of his supporter. So bad that five Miami defenders picked off passes from the three Seminole quarterbacks—two from starter Chip Ferguson, two from replacement Peter Tom Willis and one from a desperate redshirt freshman named Casey Weldon. So bad that Florida State drove past midfield only three times, to the Miami 30, 40 and 38.

You want to hear how each of the Seminoles' drives ended? Check it out: punt, interception, punt, missed field goal, fumble, punt, halftime, interception, punt, punt, punt, interception, interception, interception. Set it to music. It's a rap.

The defeat marked the first time that Florida State had been shut out since 1976—Miami pulled that one off, too, 47-0. The Seminoles were so bad that it's hard to figure whether every one of them, plus coach Bobby Bowden and his staff, had a career off day or whether they're simply not very good. Or is it possible that the Hurricanes of coach Jimmy Johnson, last year's national champs, are that good again?

Seventeen Miami players from last season's 12-0 team were either drafted or signed as free agents by the NFL last spring; eight made their pro teams, and four are starting. It seemed reasonable to assume that the Hurricanes' talent quotient would have to drop way off this season, with seven new starters on offense and six on defense. But the players who stepped in against Florida State performed like cagey vets. Sophomore halfback Leonard Conley, 5'9" and 170 pounds, carried 17 times for 67 mostly up-the-gut yards and could almost make you forget Warren Williams, Miami's leading rusher in '87. And fullback Cleveland Gary (12 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown; four catches for 43 yards) proved to be a fine replacement for the departed Mr. Versatile, Melvin Bratton. Indeed, Gary is a load to stop and may have the best receiving hands among the Hurricanes.

"I've nicknamed him Buffalo," said Miami associate athletic director Larry Wahl during the game. "He runs like one, plus that gives him three rust-belt cities in his name. What do you think?"

On the 'Canes' defense, first-time starters such as strong safety Bobby Harden (five tackles and an interception) and weakside linebacker Maurice Crum (11 tackles—three for losses—and one sack) played brilliantly. Cornerback Kenny Berry, who had six tackles and an interception, started only once last season. "People didn't think we could be as good as last year's players," said linebacker Bernard Clark after the rout. "But we knew we could. We came in to prove a point."

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