Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, a 19-year-old Heisman Trophy candidate, had a grand time Wednesday during his weekly news conference broadcast live on ESPNs SportsCenter.
The redshirt freshman, his engaging smile flashing repeatedly, compared the upcoming Miami at Florida State game to a friendly competition in a backyard setting.
This is more like a brotherly game, Winston said. We want to beat our brother.
Brotherly? Most outside Coral Gables expect the Seminoles to be more like bullies.
Third-ranked FSU (7-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) will face No. 7 Miami (7-0, 3-0) on Saturday night as 22-point favorites making the Hurricanes the biggest underdog ever in a game between top-10 unbeatens this late in the season.
My initial reaction to seeing Florida State as a 21 1/2-point favorite was, is that all? wrote CBS.com college football analyst Tom Fornelli. Its not really a knock on Miami as much as its the fact that Florida State has won its last three games against ACC competition by a combined score of 163-31. Meanwhile, Miami has spent the last two weeks beating North Carolina and Wake Forest by a combined score of 55-44.
Miami fans will take this as me saying Miami [stinks], but the truth is I just think Florida State is ridiculously good.
The game, an 8 p.m. sellout at Doak Campbell Stadium, continues one of college footballs fiercest and most fun in-state rivalries, dating to 1951. The Hurricanes lead the series 31-26 but havent won since 2009, a 38-34 heart-thumper in Tallahassee. After a series-high six consecutive victories by the Canes from 2000 through 2004 (including the Orange Bowl game after the 03 season), FSU has won six of the past eight meetings.
And they are rarely uneventful whether its wide rights (1991, 92 and 2000 UM victories), wide left (2002 UM victory), botched snap (2005 FSU), late-game heroics (2007 UM), late-game futility (2009 UM) or shootouts (2008 FSU).
Weve seen them, and we know how talented they are, said UM coach Al Golden, when asked how his team intends to deal with FSUs significant offensive firepower, from multiple receivers to tight end to running backs to nationally heralded quarterback. Obviously, you cant defend all those things all game.
Theyre not beating themselves. Theyre explosive. And theyll make you pay for any mistake.
The Seminoles are ranked fourth in total offense (553.7 yards per game), third in scoring (52.6) and first in red zone offense. Winston, ranked in the top 10 in several categories, is second nationally in passing efficiency and yards per completion (17), and eighth in completion percentage (69.9).
Defensively, FSU is equally fearsome: No. 1 in passing yards allowed (153.7), No. 4 in scoring defense (13 points allowed per game) and No. 8 in total defense (an average of 289.4 yards allowed).
While the Seminoles have been loose and talkative this week, the Canes have been serious, tight-lipped and deep in what Golden calls their bunker mentality.
Do you want to prove people wrong, that you are a good football team and can compete with guys youve been playing with and against your whole life?