It's no mystery, the intensity involved in the rivalry between Florida State and Miami. And it helps to find an edge.
These teams don't like each other, the fan bases don't like each other. And in a state that is one of the biggest "talent pools" in the country, a lot of these kids played against each other during their younger years. These are all things that lead to the mayhem on the field.
The No. 2 Florida State Seminoles came into Saturday night's game as a huge 21.5 point favorite over the visiting No. 7 Miami Hurricanes, so it was no mystery that the Seminoles were the better team. But, while there were clues that hinted towards Miami being something other than their ranking, any college football fan knew one thing: the Hurricanes were going to bring their best game to Doak Campbell against their rival. And that's just what they did.
But it wouldn't be good enough.
While it was only a seven point game at halftime, the feeling was much different. Besides a couple errant throws from redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, the 'Noles seemed in control. But they were lacking that killer mentality that they've showcased over the last couple of months, missing opportunities to blow the score wide open. Instead, Miami quarterback Stephen Morris would make a pair of perfect throws in the first half to pull his 'Canes to within seven points of Florida State heading into the half.
It's all about finding the edge and using that to drive your emotions.
And the 'Noles would find that edge during their first possession of the second half after Jameis Winston completed a 26-yard pass over the middle to Kenny Shaw to put them inside the Miami 5 yard line. And then it got chippy out there.
A scuffle broke out in a form all too familiar to people close to this rivalry.
It appeared - at least in the replay that I saw - that Miami defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo was doing his best to cram his fingers into Florida State offensive lineman Bobby Hart's facemask. Whether he was grabbing the facemask or going for the formidable eye-gouge remains unclear. But if the history of this rivalry tells you anything, the latter seems likely. And what transpired after the scuffle might shed a little light on the situation at hand.
The 'Noles found their edge.
If you watch the 'Noles take the field after the referees sorted out the off-setting penalties, you can see Jameis Winston firing his guys up with the fury that Florida State fans have become accustomed to in 2013.
"I just ran up to my guys and told them, 'hey, the party just started boys'," Winston said.
Florida State would score on the following play as James Wilder would rush to the left for a 5-yard touchdown to take a 28-14 lead. And on Miami's very first play following that touchdown, P.J. Williams would pull in the interception. That would pretty much do it for Miami.
The Hurricanes would muster up just 30 rushing yards and 75 passing yards throughout the remainder of the game, and would only possess the ball for another 7:32. The Florida State defense would only allow two more first downs as they imposed their will on the opposition.
"We fight for our brothers on that football field," Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams said. "When all of that went down, all we wanted to do was get back on the field. All it did was motivate us even more than we were before the game."
But it wasn't just the defense that wanted to assert their dominance, it was the offense too. Players lowering shoulders, making forceful blocks and really leaving it all on the field.
"It's important in a game like this," FSU offensive lineman Cam Erving said. "You come into these games with a lot of emotions and sometimes that takes it out of you. But when something like that happens, it's like a boost of energy and you play with another level of intensity."
This was clear when watching the second half of the football game. A very tight knit team, the 'Noles have proven that their willing to stand by each other, and that couldn't be more crucial than in a game like this. A game that means everything to these players.
I asked Lamarcus Joyner what this win meant to him, and it pretty much sums up what this game means to the players.
"We are a family on and off the field," a choked up Joyner said. "We'll fight for each other, our fans and the guys that came before us. This win was for everyone - guys like Derrick Brooks and Peter Warrick who were here today, coach Mario, everybody. I extremely proud to leave here and say I beat Miami four straight years, and hopefully I'll be blessed enough one day to come back and watch the future 'Noles do what we did today."