Miami, Florida State back in spotlight

Updated: November 2, 2013, 11:25 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Jimbo Fisher and Al Golden have their programs back in a familiar place as unbeatens Florida State and Miami get ready for their showdown Saturday night in Tallahassee.

"Shows college football is gettin' right again," Fisher said.

Fisher has the No. 3 Seminoles (7-0, 5-0 ACC) rolling, looking every bit like a national championship contender. But the uphill climb since replacing Bobby Bowden has been filled with growing pains.

The same can be said for Golden and the No. 7 Hurricanes (7-0, 3-0), who no longer have the threat of NCAA sanctions hanging over the program.

The teams are meeting as unbeatens this late in a season for the first time since 1991, when the Hurricanes won a nail-biter in Tallahassee on the way to the school's fourth national title in 11 seasons.

Florida State's resurgence on the national scene is clearly further along than Miami's, with freshman quarterback Jameis Winston building a case for the Heisman Trophy.

Winston has averaged 311 yards passing per game, completed 69.9 percent of his passes and thrown for 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. His performance against the Hurricanes will carry plenty of weight with voters who are also watching quarterbacks Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), AJ McCarron (Alabama) and Bryce Petty (Baylor).

The Hurricanes, listed as three-touchdown underdogs, counter with running back Duke Johnson and an offensive line that averages 313 pounds per lineman. Johnson is the No. 11 rusher in the Football Bowl Subdivision, racking up 117.6 yards per game.

"I think clearly you have to be a program to graduate the number of kids that they graduated and yet be in the same situation they are in right now," Golden said of the Seminoles. "We are building that. A lot of people are premature and saying 'The U is back.' The U is building. We have to continue to build."

Fisher started 12-7 at Florida State before reeling off 26 wins in the Seminoles' last 29 games. Golden started 11-11 at Miami and is 9-0 since.

Fans seem a touch happier at both places now. Go figure.

"It's good for the state of Florida, it's good for the ACC, and it's good for college football," Fisher said. "I think it's good all the way around, and like I say, it's one of the great traditional rivalries in the game, and it's great to see both teams up there."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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