Miami, Florida State to find and settle differences On tape, both unbeatens are hard to tell apart

October 03, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

MIAMI -- Let's go to the videotapes. No, not the one Florida State linebacker Marvin Jones made unknowingly last year, putting the Miami Hurricanes in an unflattering light -- the one the Hurricanes watched before their one-point victory over the top-ranked Seminoles in Tallahassee.

Let's go to the videotapes of this year's teams. Are those the Seminoles in a one-back offense, or the Hurricanes? Are those the Hurricanes flying around on defense, or the 'Noles? Is that Florida State missing easy field goals, or is it Miami?

Even Bobby Bowden has trouble telling these teams apart.

"Their strengths are in the same areas and their weaknesses are in the same areas," the Florida State coach said this week.

For the first time since their rivalry heated up in the national spotlight five years ago, the second-ranked Hurricanes and third-ranked Seminoles are as similar in style as they are in substance.

The strengths are obvious: both teams have defenses that rely on speed, but are not short on strength; since the Seminoles went to a one-back set this season, both teams try to spread out their offenses and, thus, their opponents.

The weaknesses are a little more subtle: inexperienced offensive lines, erratic kicking games, lackluster running games and little depth at quarterback. But Miami is 3-0, and Florida State comes into the soggy Orange Bowl this afternoon at 4-0, so nobody has been able to exploit their deficiencies. Until today.

"It's going to come down to mistakes," said Miami linebacker Micheal Barrow. "Whoever makes the least is going to win."

That has usually been Miami. The Hurricanes, who have the nation's longest Division I-A winning streak at 21 games as well as a 47-game winning streak at the Orange Bowl, have won six of their last seven meetings with the Seminoles.

The most recent was the now-famous "Brawl For It All": a 17-16 victory in Tallahassee last season, a game decided when a last-minute 34-yard field goal by Gerry Thomas went less than a foot wide right. It cost Florida State its No. 1 ranking and Bowden another shot at a national championship, which Miami went on to share with Washington.

"The one that haunts me is between last year and the one in 1987," said Bowden, referring to a 26-25 loss to Miami at Doak Campbell Stadium. "It'll be close."

The importance of today's nationally televised game (Channels 13, 7 at noon) is no less than it has been in recent years. Miami slipped from No. 1 to No. 2 with an uninspired 8-7 win here over Arizona last week, with Washington moving to No. 1.

"We took the game against Arizona as a wake-up call," said Barrow.

When the Hurricanes woke up, they were without their leading pass rusher, defensive end Rusty Medearis, who suffered a dislocated knee against Arizona. Last year Medearis created havoc for Seminoles quarterback Casey Weldon.

"Rusty was a very big part of our football team," said Miami coach Dennis Erickson, who is looking for his third national championship in the past four years. "We've had injuries before. You hate to see Rusty not in there, but someone else has to emerge."

Perhaps the biggest difference between this year's game and the last few is the lack of poor-mouthing and trash-talking before kickoff.

In 1988, several Florida State players made a rap video that spoke unkindly of the Hurricanes. Miami used it as inspiration for a 31-0 season-opening victory over the then top-ranked Seminoles. Last year, Seminoles linebacker Marvin Jones was videotaped saying less-than-flattering things about Miami. This year, the Seminoles have been careful on camera.

"They're a good team, so if we don't get out of the blocks quickly, it could be a long afternoon," said Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward, who isn't known to bad-mouth anybody.

"We're going to do our talking on the field," said Barrow, who is usually an all-world talker. "I can't wait to get out there."

Forget the videotapes.

Let's go to the Orange Bowl.

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