There was intrigue leading up to the game, buffoonery during it and at least on this particular night, a packed, rockin’ house at Sun Life Stadium.
And in the end, the team that was expected to win, did. But it needed 17 points in the fourth quarter to pull away.
No. 12 Florida State defeated Miami 33-20 Saturday, handing the Hurricanes their third consecutive loss.
The Seminoles (7-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have defeated the Hurricanes (4-4, 3-2) the past three years, and six out of the last eight.
"We have to develop our guys and recruit some more and keep working, and don't make any excuses,'' said UM coach Al Golden. "They're a better team right now.''
Hurricanes fans waited all week to see which quarterback would start — usual starter Stephen Morris, who sprained his left ankle last week against North Carolina, or backup Ryan Williams.
Morris, who was listed by UM as “doubtful,’’ got the nod.
Morris struggled to find open receivers downfield, fumbled once, was sacked at least four times and threw an interception. But he also kept the Hurricanes close enough to make it exciting for the 73,328 in attendance.
"Until you see him go out there and run around and actually stress it like he did in pregame, we were uncertain,'' Golden said. "I don't regret playing Stephen in this game. I thought he gives us the best chance to win the game, and we didn't get it done."
FSU had a 13-10 lead at halftime, despite being flagged nine times for 82 yards in the first half. The Seminoles fumbled five times and lost two of them in that half.
But the Noles persevered in the second half, with depth and experience helping them pull away from the scrappy, young Canes, whose defense helped keep them in the game. The teams traded possessions in the latter half, but FSU still came away with field goals of 35 and 48 yards by Dustin Hopkins, and two touchdown runs by Devonta Freeman.
"I said, 'Listen, you did about everything wrong you could do,''' FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he told his players. "'But you overcame it and had a lead.' That says something. To me, that's a sign. People say that's crazy, but I think that shows a competitive, good football team that's growing up and learning to fight through things.''
The biggest crowd of the season seemed to enjoy it all, especially with just under six minutes to go in the first quarter, when a male fan jumped onto the field, pulled his orange shirt over his head (and then off) and led security to a chase toward the west end zone. He was eventually tackled and taken off the field.
Those fans — including Heat players LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — were fired up from the start. Miami jumped out to a 7-0 lead following a turnover by FSU on the Seminoles’ opening offensive play. EJ Manuel rolled out at first-and-10 from the FSU 19-yard line, and found tight end Nick O’Leary for seven yards in the flat. UM linebacker Denzel Perryman then smacked the leaping O’Leary in mid air, causing him to fumble. Fellow linebacker Jimmy Gaines recovered, and the crowd went wild.
Miami took over on the FSU 22, and four plays later, tailback Mike James charged nine yards into the end zone. James also had a pretty, one-handed grab for six yards in the series. The Canes led 7-0 with 11:06 left.
The Seminoles tried again, to no avail. This time they punted, and that went wrong, too. Cason Beatty shanked the punt 17 yards, and the Canes took over at the FSU 34. UM needed seven plays to score, but a 19-yard field goal is all it could manage after three attempts from within 10 yards. Hurricanes 10, FSU 0.