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Florida State football preview and podcast: Miami

Can FSU get six in a row?

While the Florida State-Miami (FL) rivalry doesn't carry the weight that it once did (looking at you, Canes), it still has enough pull nationally (amid a relatively weak slate) to air in prime time on ABC at 8 p.m. Saturday. FSU (4-0, 2-0 ACC) will be looking for its sixth consecutive win over the Hurricanes (3-1), with Jimbo Fisher holding a perfect 5-0 record against UM as head coach in Tallahassee.

While FSU's win last week at Wake Forest was far from pretty, the worst news for the 'Noles came in the form of injuries to key players. Dalvin Cook pulled up lame with a hamstring injury and has been listed as day-to-day all week, while linebacker Terrance Smith will not be available and safety Nate Andrews will be limited on the other side of the ball due to ankle and knee injuries, respectively.

Offensively against Wake, FSU quarterback Everett Golson looked more comfortable in the pocket and appeared to make significant progress over the bye week, but the sloppy weather and more drops from the Seminole wideouts did nothing to help the cause for the FSU passing game.

The Seminoles will face a Miami defense with a talented secondary led by safety Deon Bush, but the Canes have not fared well against the run. Ranking near the bottom of the barrel in opponent-adjusted run defense, the 'Noles should have a chance to get the ground game going with whatever back they rely upon, whether it be Cook or -- if he can't go -- Jonathan Vickers. FSU enters the weekend atop the nation in Rushing S+P, while Miami's defense ranks 123rd in that category, and while Cook's health certainly matters in this area, Florida State should still hold an advantage.

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The running game without Cook failed to impress last week, but with the nagging nature of hamstring injuries it is very possible that he isn't able to play or, at the very least, is below full capacity on Saturday.

The loss of Smith is a particularly big one for FSU on defense, as he is by far the better coverage 'backer between the starting duo of he and Reggie Northrup. The senior leaves a big hole to fill for FSU, which will perhaps be more susceptible to giving up easy, soft yards over the middle to Brad Kaaya, who is the first truly talented passer they have faced on the season.

Not having the full services of Andrews could mean more dime defense with the 'Noles perhaps relying more upon true freshman Derwin James in the secondary. Smith's absence will also hurt in run defense, but James did feature in the linebacker spot in the dime look at times last week, so it will be interesting to see how the approach that Charles Kelly chooses.

While Kaaya is an impressive QB as a true sophomore, the Miami offense struggles in some key areas such as short-yardage situations, third down conversions and in the red zone. If the Canes aren't sharper in these areas this weekend, it will be tough for them to sustain drives against the FSU defense even with the Seminoles' injury concerns.

Be sure to listen to the NoleCast as Bud and Ingram provide in-depth analysis to cover all the bases ahead of this FSU-Miami rivalry game.

Bud's Prediction: FSU 27, Miami 16

Ingram's prediction: FSU 23, Miami 16