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Insider

Five Storylines: FSU vs. Miami

10/16/2012

Florida State rebounded nicely from its first loss of the season, cruising past Boston College and helping to numb a bit of the sting that came with falling out of the national-title picture.

But if a national championship isn't on the agenda, the next item on the list for a hefty contingent of fans would be a win over FSU's bitter rival, Miami.

The Hurricanes are reeling after two straight losses, but Jimbo Fisher insists they're dangerous. For Florida State's players, however, it doesn't matter. It's a rivalry game, and there's only one acceptable outcome regardless of the records.

So as rivalry week winds to a close, here are five storylines to watch.

1. Can FSU make it three in a row?

Miami has the all-time series edge in the rivalry, having won 31 of the 56 previous meetings, but Florida State has taken the last two games and has a chance to make it three straight for the first time in more than a decade. FSU won five in a row from Miami from 1995 through 1999 and took seven straight from 1963 through 1972, but the Seminoles have never won more than two in a row during any other stretch.

2. Which quarterback will be running Miami's offense?

Stephen Morris leads the ACC in passing yards, but a sprained ankle suffered last week against North Carolina could have him sidelined for Saturday's game. That would leave backup Ryan Williams, a transfer from Memphis, taking the snaps, which could certainly mean some significant changes for the Miami offense. Williams is far more of a pocket passer, but at 6-foot-6, he's tough to tackle and has a big arm. Fisher said his team has prepared for both QBs this week, while Miami's Al Golden has continued to hedge on which one will actually start against Florida State.

3. Is Florida State ready for another road test?

FSU has actually won the last three straight games in Miami, but questions remain about how well the Seminoles will handle life in a hostile environment. Florida State struggled at times in front of a mixed crowd against South Florida three weeks ago, and the Seminoles looked bad in a loss at NC State the following week. This marks their first road trip since, and Fisher is hoping his team has taken a big step forward when it comes to handling life away from home.

4. How aggressive will the Seminoles be on offense?

Two weeks ago against NC State, the Seminoles ran often and rarely looked downfield for a big play, largely because of struggles on the offensive line. Against Boston College last week, Fisher rolled the dice early and often, calling for nine straight passing plays to open the game -- six of which were deep balls. The line protected well, and the offense exploded for 649 yards. Miami's defense has struggled at times this season, but Fisher warns the Hurricanes are better than their numbers suggest. How much he actually believes that may well dictate his offensive game plan Saturday.

5. Can Duke Johnson expose the FSU run defense?

For the first time in more than a year, Florida State's defense allowed an opposing rusher to top 100 yards last week when Boston College's Andre Williams racked up 104 yards on 20 carries. It wasn't a bad performance by any stretch -- nearly a quarter of Williams' total came on one 25-yard scamper -- but the test gets a bit tougher this week. Johnson has been among the top performing freshmen in the ACC this season, topping 100 yards of total offense in three of his first four games. He's slowed some since -- averaging just 3.2 yards per carry in his last three games -- but he remains Miami's most dangerous offensive weapon.