Miami Hurricanes senior linebacker Shaq Quarterman knows exactly what the Miami-Florida State rivalry means.
It means everything — 4-4 records be damned.
Quarterman has been part of this rivalry for the last three years. He has seen two historic streaks snapped, both in Miami’s favor. As a freshman, he also saw FSU stretch one streak to seven consecutive victories before the Canes came back to win the past two games — In 2017 with six seconds left and last year’s by one point after trailing by 20 in the third quarter. Imagine seven long years of taunting or boasting among rosters littered with players who grew up together and played with each other in high school or even on the peewee level.
Folks “always ask you,’’ Quarterman said, “‘What’s your record against Florida State?’ They ask you that before they ask you the record of your team, so that should let you know how important this rivalry is.’’
The teams meet again at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and ABC chose to televise it, knowing these games annually provide plenty of heart-stopping fun, no matter how down the programs might be. Miami (4-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) and FSU (4-4, 3-3) go into the series, which began in 1951, with UM leading 33-30 all-time — but currently steeped in mediocrity.
Both programs need two more wins to qualify for a bowl game, and a victory for either would be a great boost.
“I’m so excited,’’ said UM receiver K.J. Osborn, a graduate transfer who came to Miami this year from Buffalo and has never been part of the rivalry. Osborn is the Hurricane who last Saturday at Pittsburgh caught the game-winning catch from Jarren Williams, the redshirt freshman who will start Saturday for the first time since October 5. “When they’re playing the war chant at practice, that really gets me going. Got to slow myself down.’’
The stakes might not be as huge as they are some years, but be assured that the game will be every bit as hard fought.
“I tell the younger guys you got to control your emotions,’’ said UM junior receiver Mike Harley, who is among the fortunate Hurricanes who are 2-0 against FSU in their young careers. “It’s a rivalry game. It’s the reason you came to Miami. If you practice, prepare, watch film and lock in, it’s just another game. Just do your job and get the W.’’
When asked if he has spoken to former Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas teammate Asante Samuel, an FSU cornerback who has 35 tackles, an interception and leads FSU with nine pass breakups, Harley said he would wait until at least game day. “I’ll tell him good luck and stuff, but I didn’t hit him up yet,’’ said Harley, who has 27 catches for 297 yards and a touchdown. “I’ll just let him focus on him and I’ll see him Saturday.
“They put their best on our best. We’ll make it work.’’
While Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz on Wednesday named Williams (94 of 135 for 1,136 yards and eight touchdowns, with three interceptions) his starter, FSU coach Willie Taggart has not announced his, though it may very well be Wisconsin graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook (67 of 98 for 851 yards and six touchdowns, with one interception). Not only did Hornibrook get his second FSU start last week in defeating Syracuse 35-17, he completed 23 of 34 passes for a then-career high 258 yards and four touchdowns at Hard Rock Stadium to beat Miami in the Orange Bowl following the 2017 season.
The Seminoles also have one of the best tailbacks in the nation in Cam Akers, who already has 917 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing, with another 151 yards and three touchdowns receiving.
“We’re going to beat ’em,” fellow FSU running back Khalan Laborn said about UM after the Seminoles beat Syracuse last week. “It’s going to be a ball game. It ain’t gonna be like last year. It’s going to be a different game.”
Before UM broke its seven-year losing streak to FSU in 2017, the last time the Canes had beaten the Noles in Tallahassee was 2009, 38-34. Sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris passed for 386 yards and UM tailback Graig Cooper scored with 1:53 left as the unranked Canes upset No. 18 FSU in a Labor Day special. It was legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowdens’ final season.
Quarterman, who knows Akers will be a beast, said UM-FSU “always comes down to’’ individual plays, one by one. “It’s never by a lump sum of points,’’ Quarterman said. “It’s always by a possession or by a couple of points. Knowing that’s how every rivalry game comes down, you can’t take a play off became one play can really determine a win or loss.”
Said Harley: “Whoever gets the W has the right to talk. I don’t hate none of them. I love all of them guys from down here. I love Coach Dugans, too,’’ he said of former Miami receivers coach Ron Dugans, who now coaches at FSU. “But at the end of the day, Miami needs to win because it’s about the organization. It’s not about them.’’