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Instant Analysis: Miami 38, FSU 34

9/8/2009

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich

Turning point: Miami quarterback Jacory Harris' 40-yard pass to Travis Benjamin with 1:56 left to play and the Canes trailing by a field goal set Miami up at first and goal on the three yard line. The Canes scored what would be the game-winning score on the next play and the defense hung on for a 38-34 win.

Stat of the game: Harris completed 7-of-9 passes for 122 and a touchdown after returning from the hit Greg Reid laid on him that forced an interception.

Best call: On third and two with about a minute left to play, quarterback Christian Ponder kept the ball and ran it 30 yards for a first down and put the Noles in scoring position on Miami's 12-yard line.

Player of the game: Jacory Harris. He was tough, he played smarter, and he matured before our eyes. He completed 21 of 34 passes for 386 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. One of the biggest questions heading into this game was the durablity of Miami's lanky quarterback, especially with the transfer of his two backups. His health will be critical this season, and his return after Reid's hit in the fourth quarter showed his durability.

Unsung hero of the game: Greg Reid. His punt return for 50 yards set the Noles up on the 44 yard line, and he also intercepted Harris in the third quarter, and FSU scored on the ensuing possession. He also had three kick returns for 100 yards.

What it means: Miami took the early lead in the conference race, and officially has the slight edge in the race between the two former powerhouses in their quest to return to national supremacy. This game also showed that Florida State and Miami, unlike many of their counterparts in the conference, came prepared to play on Week 1. It wasn’t a sloppy game, it was entertaining, both offensive coordinators provided a great mix and kept the defenses on the their toes. While neither program has yet to reassert itself among the BCS elite, they sure looked capable of earning their spots atop the conference standings. It also gives Miami momentum heading into a lineup that includes Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma.