This Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles will meet for the 63rd time in their storied rivalry. For decades, UM-FSU has been the most important game on both teams' schedules.
This time around, though, the matchup is bigger than just this season. Saturday's game is a mile marker for Mark Richt as Hurricanes head coach. In fact, it's the biggest game of his young tenure in Coral Gables. It's not a must-win game, but it's certainly a should-win game.
Florida State is down. Actually, by just about every statistical and eyeball measure, FSU is a terrible football team. Though the Seminoles' record is 2-2, they've been trailing late in every game they've played, including at home against tiny Samford, and they have looked pathetic. Under first-year coach Willie Taggart, the Seminoles look lost. They have no business beating Miami this weekend. They aren't nearly as good.
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That's what makes this game such a dangerous one for Richt and his team. If they win, it will be two victories in a row for UM over FSU. If they lose, however, it would not only end the Canes' slim chances of a national championship run this season, but also slow the momentum on the recruiting trail, give the Taggart era in Tallahassee a huge signature win, and saddle Miami with yet another disappointing loss sure to doom this season to the "just all right" file.
If Florida State is a zombie, Miami must double-tap kill it. Richt can't afford to lose an opportunity to claim the title as the obvious state champions in Florida. A win this Saturday would not only catapult Miami toward a possible one-loss playoff berth this year, but also set the stage for a run of dominance on the recruiting trail and, thus, for many years to come on the field.
Saturday is Richt's biggest game as head coach at Miami. With a win, UM can stick a fork in FSU and stick itself into the national-championship conversation. A loss would do exactly the opposite.