Over the last two months and seven college games, true freshman quarterback sensation Jameis Winston has torched the ACC, and has the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles in contention for a BCS bowl berth.
But all that could come to a screeching halt if the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes have anything to say during Saturday night’s ACC battle at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Seminoles are favored by 22 points, making Miami the biggest underdog in the history of two undefeated top 10 teams meeting this late in the season, according to the Miami Herald.
The Hurricanes have already equaled their 7-5 win total of a year ago, powered by sophomore running back Duke Johnson, who’s third in the nation with 823 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.
An anonymous NFL scout reportedly said to the Orlando Sentinel that Winston’s 2,177 yards passing and 23 touchdowns would make him the No. 1 pick in the draft if he were actually eligible.
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But Winston hasn’t done it all himself. The Seminoles have the country’s fourth ranked defense, letting up 13 points, 289.4 total yards a game, and only 11 touchdowns all season. Senior defensive backs Lamarcus Joyner and Terrance Brooks, and sophomore Ronald Darby have spearheaded the Florida State defense. Joyner is first on the team with 3.0 sacks, and second with 37 total tackles; Jones and Darby have posted a combined four interceptions.
Last week the Seminoles forced three turnovers and generated 566 yards of offense, including 35 points in the first quarter, in a 49-17 drubbing of North Carolina State. Junior running back Devonta Freeman gained 92 yards and scored two touchdowns, and receiver Rashad Greene had eight receptions for 137 yards and one touchdown.
Miami survived their closest victory last week, needing 14 fourth quarter points to silence Wake Forest 24-21. Johnson rushed for both touchdowns in the final period including the last one with under a minute left and senior quarterback Stephen Morris went 17-for-28 for 191 passing yards and a score. Morris has been limited with an ankle injury, but has continued to play.
The Canes defense has been almost as dominant as Florida State’s, allowing 17.7 points per game. They are also fourth in total defense in the ACC with 345.9 yards given up per contest. The Miami secondary is also third in the ACC with 12 interceptions, with sophomore defensive back Tracy Howard tallying a team-best three.
The Hurricanes hold the all-time record of 31-26, but have lost the last three meetings by an average of 15 points.
Miami could welcome back receiver Rashawn Scott, who injured his shoulder against Florida Atlantic in the first game of the season. A year ago he was the Canes second-leading receiver, and while he was cleared to play against Wake Forest, he didn’t see any action.
"He's got to continue to prepare, work really hard here in the next 72 hours to prepare and eliminate any mental aspects of the game," Miami head coach Al Golden said to The Herald. "He has to play fast. I think he's in good condition. He should be ready for this opportunity. It's good to get him back."
Point Spread: Florida State favored by 22 points.
Kickoff Time: 8 p.m. Eastern Time
TV Channel: ABC
Prediction: Florida State 30, Miami 17