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Will the 2016 FSU-Miami football game take place in Orlando?

Is a de facto ‘Nole home game in the works?

NCAA Football: Clemson at Miami
Sun Life Stadium
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This fall, Florida State football will look to equal its longest win streak against the rival Miami Hurricanes, as the ‘Noles are in search of their seventh-straight victory over the ‘Canes. The current six-game streak includes three Ws apiece in Tallahassee and Miami Gardens, and five in a row dating back to when UM actually played is home games in Miami proper. The last time the Hurricanes successfully defended their home field against the Seminoles was all the way back in 2004. And they may be denied that chance in 2016 altogether.

That’s because, on Wednesday, Miami Athletic Director Blake James released a statement addressing rumors that renovations to Sun Life Stadium were significantly behind schedule and may not be finished until November (FSU and UM are scheduled to play there on October 8), per Inside the U. James’ statement reads:

We remain in regular contact with the Dolphins organization regarding the status of the stadium renovation project. It’s a very complex project and I now [sic] the Dolphins are doing everything possible to get it ready in time to play football. We are very excited about what these improvements will mean for our fans and gameday atmosphere. We still expect to play all of our games at the stadium. However, we’re aware that things could change and if they do we have a contingency plan in place if needed.

Of course, offseason hearsay surrounding any program is nothing new; but the fact that James saw fit to release a statement about this gave the rumors some legs-- and his mentioning a contingency plan being in place makes it sound downright possible. Yes, technically, it would still be considered a Miami home game, but if past South Florida games are any indication, probably in name only. The last time the ‘Noles played at UM, in 2014, ‘Cane fans were a slight majority— but certainly not an overwhelming one.

That’s a ridiculously robust turnout for FSU supporters, especially considering that Miami fans have gained the reputation for only faithfully attending one game every two years: the one when Florida State comes calling. So what would happen if the 2016 contest went down not in UM’s backyard, but nearly equidistant to Miami and Tallahassee, in Orlando, as seems the most likely alternate destination, per unspecified reports?

Well before the first fan filed through a turnstile, it would already provide the FSU squad an advantage in familiarity. Remember, the Citrus Bowl — sorry, Camping World Stadium (that still hurts) — facilitated the Seminoles’ spring game in April and will host Florida State’s opener against Ole Miss come September. Moreover, one would have to assume that the Hurricanes’ narrow edge in attendance would be blown away by the number of FSU fans who’d probably descend upon Central Florida for this one, compared to the UM fans who would likely make the trip.

But perhaps when, and not where, this game will be played is the larger enemy of Miami. In this decade, the ‘Canes haven’t beat the Seminoles at home; they haven’t done it in Tallahassee, either. Maybe a neutral site is just what they need. But, at this point, a time machine may prove more helpful.