Let the Game Begin
No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Miami easily won their final tune-ups for their long-awaited showdown in Tallahassee on Saturday. The Seminoles crushed South Carolina 38-10, and the Hurricanes defeated West Virginia 27-3. Florida State will take a 10-0 record and a 16-game winning streak into the game, but 8-0 Miami is unimpressed. "Somehow, someway," says Hurricane fullback Stephen McGuire, remembering how highly touted Florida State teams have played themselves out of national title consideration in each of the last five years, "you know the 'Noles are going to find a way to mess up."
Maybe so, but we don't think it's going to happen this time. It says here that Florida State coach Bobby Bowden's best team will give him his biggest victory. Here's why:
?The Seminoles have already proved themselves against tougher opponents, having beaten BYU, Michigan and LSU on the road and Syracuse at home. The Hurricanes' best win was over Penn State, 26-20.
?If the game were being played in the Orange Bowl, where the Hurricanes have won 43 games in a row, Miami might prevail. However, in Doak Campbell Stadium you have to like the Seminoles, if only because their fans will make Miami numb with their silly war chants.
? Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon is 15-0 as a starter—perhaps the most important stat of all. With six receivers who have at least one reception of 49 or more yards, and with two relentless runners in tailback Amp Lee and fullback Edgar Bennett, Weldon operates the most talented offense in the land. "My job with this team," says Weldon, "is to spread the wealth around."
?The Hurricane offense takes pride in its ability to make the big play, but it has yet to prove it can sustain a drive, something that may be fatal against a gambling Florida State defense, which can match Miami's extraordinary speed, player for player, stride for stride and gibe for gibe.
? Miami quarterback Gino Torretta isn't as dangerous as his illustrious predecessors, Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, Steve Walsh and Craig Erickson. The last time he faced Florida State in Tallahassee, as a replacement for the injured Erickson in 1989, Torretta threw four interceptions, two of which were picked off by linebacker Kirk Carruthers. Although Carruthers is still around, he may only be Florida State's second-best linebacker, after sophomore Marvin (Shade Tree) Jones.
?In safety Terrell Buckley, the Seminoles have the best defensive back in the nation, a player who can take over a game. With nine interceptions this season, including two in his head-to-head battle with Michigan's Desmond Howard, Buckley deserves to be considered for the Heisman. Just ask him.
Both teams have such gambling defenses and big-play offenses that the only upset would be if they played a dull, low-scoring game. So make it Florida State 38, Miami 35 in a game that we'll still be discussing late on New Year's Day. Having said that, let us add that we agree with Miami defensive end Rusty Medearis, who said after the West Virginia game, "It's time for the talk to be ended. It's time to walk the walk instead of talking."