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Originally published Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 8:05 PM

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No. 3 Florida State is a big favorite in rivalry game against No. 7 Miami

Seminoles are favored by three touchdowns in Saturday night game.


Seattle Times college football reporter

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Not so long ago, Miami-Florida State was one of the highlights of the football social calendar — Bobby Bowden against Dennis Erickson.

Then the NCAA whacked Miami a couple of times, advancing age wore on Bowden, and the rivalry sort of went dark. Now it’s back on again, at least cosmetically.

One gambling website says Saturday’s game in Tallahassee marks the biggest point spread in history — about three touchdowns on the side of FSU — between undefeated, top-10 teams this late in the season.

Which might mean it’s a perfect scenario for third-rated Florida State — the prospect it could put a beatdown on the No. 7 Hurricanes to buff its resume and make a case for one of those top two BCS spots.

The past couple of weeks reveal the rationale behind that big spread. While the Seminoles went to Clemson and put a 51-14 licking on the third-ranked Tigers, Miami has needed rushing scores inside the last minute to put away North Carolina and Wake Forest.

This week on the ACC teleconference, Miami coach Al Golden — whose program the NCAA has now freed of bowl sanctions — didn’t want to discuss being an underdog. But he laid out the challenge.

“We don’t have enough time to cover it,” he said. “We have to defend the deep ball, we have to tackle really well. We can’t let them be a three-headed monster, in terms of the perimeter passing game, the tight end and the run game. We have to find a way to get pressure on them.

“We have to stop a lot of different things.”

On a skimpy schedule of quality games this weekend, the best, chronologically:

Friday night

USC at Oregon State, 6 p.m., ESPN2: USC has dropped three straight in Corvallis, a fairly remarkable stretch given that two were Pete Carroll teams. This would be the biggest breakthrough yet for interim coach Ed Orgeron.

Meanwhile, the Beavers will debut new orange uniforms. Now there’s a concept.

Saturday

Wisconsin (22) at Iowa, 9 a.m., Ch. 4/ESPN2: The Badgers (5-2) are the Big Ten team viewed most likely to win a spot in the BCS alongside Ohio State.

They don’t lack for rivalry trophies in the Big Ten. When former Iowa player and artist Frank Strub fashioned a bull mounted on a walnut base, it became the Heartland Trophy in 2004, the 16th Big Ten traveling trophy. They don’t get much more competitive than a 42-42-2 series.

Michigan (23) at Michigan State (24), 12:30 p.m., Ch. 4: Perhaps somebody can explain how the Wolverines (6-1) are ranked a spot ahead of 7-1 MSU, after allowing 90 points the past two weeks to Penn State and Indiana, and earlier, winning by four against Akron (2-7) and three over Connecticut (0-7).

Georgia-Florida at Jacksonville, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 7: Once upon an August preseason poll, the Bulldogs were No. 5 and the Gators No. 10. Then all sorts of injuries struck both teams, which are each now 4-3, grasping for a life preserver, and playing this game for just the second time since 1980 with neither ranked. The game hasn’t been kind to Florida coach Will Muschamp, 0-2 as a head coach and 0-4 as a Georgia player from 1991-94.

Tennessee at Missouri (10), 4 p.m., ESPN: Mizzou is 11-5 all-time in overtime games, Tennessee 10-4 — the two best marks in college football. Why does that matter? The Tigers won a four-overtime, 51-48 game last year over the Vols, and last week, Missouri (7-1, 4-1) lost a crunching, double-OT game against South Carolina. If Auburn (No. 8) stays ranked next week, it will mean Tennessee is playing seven rated teams for the first time in history.

Oklahoma State (18) at Texas Tech (15), 4 p.m., Ch. 13: Tech’s 13 turnovers caused, already eclipsing last year’s 11, occasions this mind-bending number: In 2012, the Raiders (7-1, 4-1) went 485 straight defensive snaps — more than six full games — without causing one. Oke State (6-1, 3-1) has won four straight in the series, and it tells you something about the state of offense today that its 437.3 yards per game ranks only 48th nationally.

Miami (7) at Florida State (3), 5 p.m., Ch. 4: For the ’Canes to have a chance, they need to narrow the gap represented by these numbers: Miami quarterback Stephen Morris has 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while Jameis Winston, the superlative FSU Heisman hopeful, counters with 23 and four, and completes 70 percent of his throws.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com




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