COLLEGE FOOTBALL LOOK AHEAD

No. 13 Miami looks to turn tables on Florida State

Sports Xchange

October 03, 2017 at 9:43 pm.

Sep 29, 2017; Durham, NC, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Mark Walton (1) looks for running room against Duke Blue Devils defensive end Tre Hornbuckle (59) in the first half at Wallace Wade Stadium. Photo Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 29, 2017; Durham, NC, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Mark Walton (1) looks for running room against Duke Blue Devils defensive end Tre Hornbuckle (59) in the first half at Wallace Wade Stadium. Photo Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State has reeled off seven consecutive victories over Miami, but the roles are reversed this season.

The 13th-ranked Hurricanes, who have largely been mired in mediocrity over the past decade while the Seminoles have flourished, enter the game unbeaten against an unranked Florida State team that finally got into the win column last Saturday with a 26-19 victory at Wake Forest.

Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher has never lost to Miami since taking over in 2010.

“You always want to keep that going. I mean, because you understand the importance of the rivalry,” Fisher said Monday. “It’s one of the reasons you play at Florida State. It’s one of the great rivalries in college football.”

Not even a natural disaster could keep these rivals from facing off this year.

The in-state foes will meet for the 62nd time Saturday in Tallahassee after their early-season meeting was postponed because of Hurricane Irma’s landfall in Florida. Luckily, both schools had the same week off, so the game was moved from Sept. 16 to the first week in October — the time of year in which the rivalry has traditionally been played.

Miami (3-0, 1-0 ACC) enters as about a field-goal favorite over Florida State (1-2, 1-1).

“It’s bragging rights,” said Florida State star safety Derwin James, who missed last year’s game after sustaining a season-ending injury in Week 2. “I know a lot of those guys on (Miami’s team); you know, I’m friends with a lot of those guys. So it’s always good when you can say you’ve beaten them a few years in a row.”

The streak was nearly snapped last year in Miami when the Hurricanes came back late in the game and scored what appeared to be the game-tying touchdown with 1:38 remaining. But the Hurricanes’ extra point was blocked and Florida State held on 20-19.

The Hurricanes hope to have the services of leading running back Mark Walton on Saturday after it appeared Walton injured his ankle in last week’s victory against Duke. Walton is the sixth-leading rusher in the ACC with 403 yards and three touchdowns. Miami is also getting contributions from sophomore running back Travis Homer, who has rushed for 178 yards, averaging 8.1 per carry.

“He’s going to play,” Miami coach Mark Richt said confidently of Walton on Tuesday. “Like last week, unless there’s a setback, we believe he’ll play. He’s practiced.”

Miami enters the game protecting the ball as well as anyone in the nation as the Hurricanes rank second nationally with only two turnovers in three games. Both turnovers came on interceptions thrown by quarterback Malik Rosier, a first-year starter as a junior.

He is averaging 273 passing yards per game, with eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. Rosier now has receiver Ahmmon Richards at his disposal. Richards missed the first three games because of a hamstring injury, but the 2016 Freshman All-American caught three passes for 106 yards and a touchdown last week against Duke.

Florida State counters at quarterback with James Blackman.

Blackman has yet to throw a pick in two starts. Richt is well aware of Blackman’s talent, despite his inexperience.

“As we all know, he’s a true freshman, but I think he’s done nothing but gain experience and gain confidence,” Richt said. “He’s had no interceptions, he threw a game-winner last week, which I’m sure helped him.”

Blackman led the Seminoles to their first win of the season last Saturday when he hit receiver Auden Tate for a 40-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining against Wake Forest. Fisher said that play may very well be the catalyst for Blackman to shed any nerves he had after taking over following the season-ending injury to starter Deondre Francois.

“Here’s the quarterback’s job: Put your team in position to win the game,” Fisher said. “And sometimes that means — maybe it’s not making plays all over the field. It’s making good decisions, making smart, intelligent decisions with the ball. I thought he had great patience — showed great patience in the game for a young guy.”

Florida State’s seven-game winning streak against Miami is tied for the longest for either team in the rivalry. The Seminoles also won seven in a row against the Hurricanes from 1963-72.