8:00 PM ET, September 4, 2006
ORANGE BOWL, MIAMI, FL
MIAMI (AP) -- A year has passed, and last season's loss to Florida State still troubles Miami linebacker Jon Beason.
He insists the Hurricanes controlled the 2005 season-opener between the powerhouse programs, with stats supporting his claim. Miami outgained Florida State 313-170 that night, had 21 first downs to the Seminoles' nine and held a 12½-minute edge in time of possession.
None of it mattered. Florida State prevailed 10-7.
"I think we were better," Beason said. "I still do."
At long last, Miami has a chance at proving Beason's assertion correct.
No. 11 Florida State -- the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champs -- visits No. 12 Miami on Monday night in a nationally televised, marquee matchup of archrivals. It's the first time since 1982 the annual showdown doesn't have at least one team ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll, yet there's plenty of intrigue nonetheless.
"There's only two schools in the country who open with a game like this,'' Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said. "One is the University of Miami, because they play against us. And the other is Florida State University, because we're playing against them. Both teams know the story. This game, you better be ready to play."
Six of the last seven meetings between the schools have been decided by eight points or less, and five of them were ultimately decided by a special-teams miscue -- with four going Miami's way.
Matt Munyon missed a 49-yard field goal wide right as time expired in Miami's 27-24 win in 2000. Xavier Beitia missed a 43-yarder wide left at the end of Miami's 28-27 victory in 2002, missed again when the Hurricanes beat Florida State 16-14 in the 2004 Orange Bowl -- and had a kick blocked to aid Miami's 16-10 overtime win in the 2004 season opener.
The exception came on Labor Day 2005, when this time, the Hurricanes were the ones blowing a chance.
"Finally,'' Seminoles running back Lorenzo Booker said, "they knew how we felt all those times."
Miami trailed by three points with 12:01 remaining when it began its final possession -- on its 3-yard line.
Over the next 9½ minutes, the Hurricanes engineered a memorable drive, with quarterback Kyle Wright -- in his first Miami start -- ignoring a crazed, record crowd in Tallahassee by completing 8 of 10 passes for 97 yards. When Ryan Moore made a diving grab with 4:39 left, Miami had first-and-goal at the Florida State 2.
"I knew we were going to win the game,'' Miami coach Larry Coker said. "I think it was a 19-play drive starting from our own (3). Nobody in football has a 19-play drive from their own (3) late in the fourth quarter. Not in the NFL, Europe, America, Arena, any level. That was a phenomenal drive."
Tyrone Moss -- who, like Moore, is suspended and will not play Monday -- was stuffed for no gain on first down. Wright was sacked for the ninth time in the game on second down, taking a 6-yard loss after never seeing Quadtrine Hill wide-open in the back of the end zone. And on third down, Wright's pass to Sinorice Moss netted a 3-yard loss.
So, facing fourth-and-goal from the 11, Miami wanted a field goal. The clock showed 2:21 when John Rochford snapped the ball to holder Brian Monroe.
"As we all know, special teams in this particular rivalry haven't fared real well in the last decade or so," Wright said.
Sure enough. The snap was a little low, hit Monroe's left hand and bounced away, denying Jon Peattie the chance at a 28-yard chip shot. Peattie slapped his thigh pads in disappointment, while the Florida State sideline broke into celebration.
"It was perfect," Booker said.
Now they meet again, in the third straight -- and final -- occurrence of the Miami-Florida State game opening the season. Both schools agreed to the matchups because of the opportunity to be showcased in an unopposed time slot on ABC, but both also seem eager to push the game to early October in 2007.
Of course, there might be one more Miami-Florida State matchup between now and then, too -- both teams are the consensus picks to represent their division in the ACC title game at Jacksonville the first Saturday in December.
"You can't buy this kind of exposure," Bowden said. "Both of us, that's probably why we took the game, because I really don't think either one of us enjoys opening with the other. When you open with somebody like Miami and Miami with us, you've got to bring your 'A' game -- and most people's 'A' game's aren't there yet."
|Avg Points Allowed||10.0||13.0|