For the Miami Hurricanes, seven is an unlucky number.
But eight would be worse.
As 13th-ranked Miami prepared this week to meet Florida State in one of the most passionate rivalries in college football, coach Mark Richt professed that the Hurricanes aren’t bothered by what is known to both programs as “the streak’’ — seven consecutive FSU victories dating to 2010.
“We don’t have a kid that’s been here seven years,’’ Richt said, “so they’re definitely not worried about that streak.”
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Richt must have forgotten to ask quarterback Malik Rosier, or tackle Kc McDermott, or defensive end Joe Jackson, or linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, or …
“It’s inexcusable, honestly,’’ senior receiver Braxton Berrios said. “Seven straight.
“It’s a great rivalry. Everybody knows that. We say it’s the best rivalry in football. Ohio State and Michigan say it’s the second best. So take it as you wish, but it’s inexcusable to have lost to them seven straight times.
“In one word: ‘Inexcusable.’ ’’
The Hurricanes, who lead the series 31-30, will try to preserve that edge at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, site of UM’s last victory against the Seminoles in 2009.
With Tropical Storm/Hurricane Nate forecast to make landfall west of the Florida panhandle early Sunday morning, Tallahassee has an 80 percent chance of rain during the game.
The Canes (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have yet to play in the ACC Championship Game since joining the league in 2004, are intent on winning their Coastal Division and getting to a major bowl. But a loss to the unranked, struggling Seminoles (1-2, 1-1) would be a setback.
When the season began, FSU was ranked third and the Hurricanes, 18th. Now, Miami is a three-point favorite and a victory would signal a clear sign that the Hurricanes, who have lost by five points or fewer the last three years, have finally caught up to their rivals.
FSU’s season changed against top-ranked Alabama on opening night, when star quarterback Deondre Francois sustained a season-ending knee injury. Enter true freshman James Blackman, listed as 6-4 and 164 pounds (with his helmet, pads and a sub sandwich in each hand).
After losing his first career start at home to North Carolina State, the strong-armed Blackman rallied FSU to a victory at previously undefeated Wake Forest with a last-minute, 40-yard touchdown to Auden Tate.
Richt, who won two national titles when he was an assistant under Bobby Bowden at Florida State, insists FSU — including its signal-caller — is still dangerous.
“There’s nothing changed about anything,’’ Richt told WQAM this week, “other than they’re breaking in a young quarterback who’s getting better every snap. Even the way he finished the game, throwing that TD pass when they needed it the most, had to be great for his confidence — and everybody else’s confidence in him.’’
UM’s swarming defense is salivating after watching FSU’s ailing offensive line surrender five sacks and 17 tackles for loss against the Demon Deacons.
The Hurricanes rank second in the nation in tackles for loss, and 10th in sacks.
“We don’t underestimate any opponent,” said UM defensive end Joe Jackson, adding that UM’s “mentality’’ is “to kick their behind.’’
The concern for Miami heading into Saturday is running back Mark Walton’s ankle and receiver Ahmmon Richards’ hamstring.
Walton, ranked second nationally with 9.16 yards per carry and fifth with 134.3 yards a game, reinjured his left ankle late at Duke. Miami said he practiced all week.
Richards, a freshman All-American who missed most of fall camp and the first two games with a severe hamstring pull, had three catches for 106 yards and a 49-yard touchdown in his season debut last week. Although he said he was OK, despite being “knocked off balance’’ and seemingly off kilter for an instant during his touchdown run, Richards’ hamstring rehab will continue throughout the season.
“I hurt a little bit toward the end, but I’m fine,’’ he said. “When you score a touchdown it makes everything feel better.’’
Left tackle McDermott knows what really would make everything feel better.
“It would be unbelievable,’’ McDermott said, when asked what it would mean for the seniors to break the streak Saturday. “It’s been almost eight years since we last beat them. Especially for me, it means something because my brother was here for five years and didn’t win.
“As coach said, in rivalry games there’s always a streak, and it’s always hard to get that streak turned around. But as long as you do what you’re supposed to, go out there with a physical nature, you should be able to turn the tide around.
“And that’s what we plan on doing.”
Saturday: No. 13 Miami @ FSU
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.; Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee.
TV/radio: ESPN; WQAM 560; WMEN 640; WFTL 850; 990 ESPN Deportes
Favorite: Miami by 2 1/2.
Records: Miami 3-0 (1-0 ACC); FSU 1-2 (1-1 ACC).
Series: Miami leads 31-30.
Miami injuries: Probable — RB Mark Walton (ankle).
FSU injuries: ). Questionable — WR George Campbell (hip); TE Alex Marshall (hand); OL Brady Scott (foot); DB Carlos Becker (ankle); WR Malique Jackson (hamstring); DB Cyrus Fagan (knee); OL David Robbins (undisclosed); LB DeCalon Brooks (knee); LB Delvin Purifoy (ankle). Out — RB Ryan Green (illness); QB Deondre Francois (knee); OL Baveon Johnson (knee); OL Jauan Williams (shoulder).