Yes, it's FSU vs. Miami week, meaning 'Nole fans can count on a few things. Hatred. Vitriol. Angst fostered by a history of last-minute finishes. 'Nole fans can rest assured that Jalen Ramsey will be ready to play—even if he did root for the Hurricanes growing up, as I detailed in my last article. And although Florida State has won five straight against the 'Canes, kicker Roberto Aguayo, who was raised in central Florida, is well aware of the Seminoles' kicking history against UM—and is determined to alter it.
Aguayo grew up in Mascotte, Florida, nearly equidistant from the FSU and Miami campuses. And while his childhood home split the difference between Tallahassee and Miami, geographically, Aguayo's allegiance has never wavered, as he's been a Seminole from the get-go. And that includes internalizing—and using—some of FSU's toughest moments, which, against UM, are drawn from Florida State kickers' failures against the 'Canes.
Said Aguayo about the in-state rivalry:
"It's changed the history of Florida State. I mean, obviously, we could have had a couple more national championships with some of those kicks that were missed. It's just big time. It's just the hype surrounding Miami-FSU. That's the one thing I hear the most, especially during this week: the wide rights, the wide lefts. But I think it's fun—the last two years playing against them; I've gone out there and done my job, and that's what I'm hoping to do this week, too."
Aguayo's numbers speak for themselves—particularly against the Hurricanes. He's nailed all five field goal attempts he's had in two games against Miami, both of which saw the 'Noles emerge victorious.
But before he could lend a leg in deciding the outcome, even as a young man, Aguayo chose not to sit and stew about FSU's historic misfortune against its rival from Coral Gables. Instead, he took it to the field—which, at the time, meant the back yard. And absent the challenge of the Hurricanes, he competed against the closest available foe: his little brother, Ricky, who's committed to FSU.
A particular miss stands out for Aguayo, and he and his future Seminole brother chose action, rather than complacency, when things went south for the Seminoles, regarding the kicking woes against Miami: when FSU kicker Xavier Beitia's infamous wide-left kick cost the 'Noles a possible comeback against the 'Canes, Roberto and Ricky took to the homemade goalpost that their father had assembled in the backyard, in hopes of preventing such future heartbreak.
Aguayo elaborated on the miss thusly: "After that miss of Beitia, when he missed against Miami, me and my brother, you know my dad made the whole goalpost in the backyard." Going a step further, Aguayo even referenced how the siblings replayed the ABC theme music that ran as Beitia's kick was shown sailing narrowly wide on the ABC replays.
For Roberto and Ricky, it served as motivation:
"We would play the song to each other, we would say like, 42 [yard line], left hash, against Miami, and we would play the song . . . sometimes we'd make it, sometimes we'd miss. . . . So it's funny, like, coming into this week, I remember those times with my brother at home, and it's just like, I've already replayed this, every kick, I've already done this. It's already happened. So when I go out there on the field, it's like, natural. It's like I've already been here, I've already done this."
And that need to right history has weighed heavily on the elder Aguayo sibling. Per Aguayo, when confronted with the proposition that this rivalry, historically, has been decided by kickers:
"Yeah, it's true. I like that, though. I don't know—playing teams, like the first four teams, obviously though, you can't take them lightly, any of those teams are capable of beating us if we don't play the right way—but playing in these games, and these situations, you could say, the hype behind it, you could say, especially, kickers have decided major games within this rivalry. I don't know, I just get excited, and I like to play in these games, and this is what I came to Florida State for: to play against Miami, to showcase what I can do, and to play against Miami, play against Florida.
From the backyard to the center of the college football universe, FSU's now-distant history of missing big field goals (largely thanks to players like Aguayo) against Miami has certainly not caused him to shy away from the game's biggest stage—in fact, it's made him relish and invite it all the more, even if that means rooting for the Hurricanes to facilitate the spotlight to set things straight.
To wit: when he was asked about how one-sided the rivalry has been of late, with the 'Noles capturing the last five contests against Miami, Aguayo actually pined for the days when this game commanded college football's spotlight, as it will again Saturday night:
"You always hope to see Miami-Florida State at the top, and it be a good rivalry. I think, this year, they are a great team, and we're coming in, we're coming ready to play, they're coming ready to play, and I think it's going to be a very good game-- a very exciting game, just like the way it's supposed to be."
Aguayo's response intrigued me, so I followed up by asking if he was rooting for Miami in its last game against Cincinnati. He flashed his trademark smile, and confessed:
"I mean, yeah, I guess, you know. Actually, I met Brad Kaaya at the ACC kickoff, and [he's a] cool dude, a nice kid, and I was pulling for him. I was pulling for Miami, you know. Obviously, you want to see the ACC do good."
Aguayo clarified his rooting interest—while divulging another reason he wished the 'Canes had topped the Bearcats:
"I mean, we possibly had GameDay. If they'd have won. You never know, but I always want to play in big games, I always want to play against teams that are, you could say, better than us, to show what we're capable of, not teams that aren't really that good that we can get by . . . but, yeah, I was pulling for them to win."
While GameDay opted for Utah, Aguayo will still get the bright lights for which he was hoping: FSU vs. Miami kicks off on Saturday at 8 pm, And it will air on ABC—expect that old commercial theme music to be running through Aguayo's head while he suits up for the 'Noles.