Golden, Miami bracing for huge FSU test

Golden, Miami bracing for huge FSU test

MIAMI (AP) Al Golden's opinion might frighten the Miami faithful this week.

The Hurricanes' coach has already seen his team endure two blowout losses this season, by 39 points to Kansas State and by 38 against Notre Dame. And with all respect to the Wildcats and Fighting Irish, currently the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the nation, Golden believes there's an even better team looming on Miami's schedule.

That team is Florida State - the team coming to visit Miami on Saturday night.

The 12th-ranked Seminoles (6-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won their last two meetings with Miami (4-3, 3-1), and are overwhelming favorites to add to that streak. In a series where 10 of the last 11 matchups have been decided by eight points or less, many not until the final seconds even, Florida State is a three-touchdown favorite.

Maybe those oddsmakers heard Golden singing the Seminoles' praises.

``I believe it's the best team that we've played this year,'' Golden said. ``I know there's two other teams that are ranked higher than them right now. I think this is the most talented team we've seen this year, the most complete team.''

True, the Seminoles are rolling. Florida State entered the weekend ranked third nationally in points scored this season (322) and sixth nationally in points allowed (81). And, yes, while those numbers were fattened up with season-opening wins over Murray State and Savannah State by a combined 124-3 count, it's not like Florida State hasn't been impressive every other game this season, either.

Well, except for one game.

``Two weeks ago, we learned a lesson,'' Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.

That was the game at North Carolina State - one where double-digit favorite Florida State went on the road, facing an opponent coming off a loss, and was supposed to roll to an easy win, only to get beaten 17-16.

Sound familiar? Florida State, on the road again this week, big favorites again, facing an opponent coming off a loss.

Rest assured, Fisher has talked plenty to his team during practices for Miami about avoiding the same trap door that the Seminoles found two weeks ago.

``You do have to play the whole game,'' Fisher said. ``Our kids have understood that lesson. I think the leadership of the team understands that and I think they'll reinforce that and will get it across. They know each game has a one-week lifespan. It's one win or one loss, and you only get 12 of them, so you better make them all special.''

Players hardly need to be told about the significance of a Miami-Florida State game.

Forget that allegiances between Hurricanes fans and Seminoles fans divides much of the state. That's nothing. It even divides homes. Outside the Miami athletic complex this week, someone's vehicle had a novelty license plate with the words ``The House Divided'' on it, emblazoned over a Florida State logo on the left side and a Hurricanes one on the right.

Lamarcus Joyner is a Florida State defensive back, but his favorite NFL players are former Hurricanes Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Miami running back Mike James has two high school buddies who play for the Seminoles. Florida State wide receiver Rodney Smith signed with the Seminoles with his mother's blessing - and she worked in the library on the Hurricanes' campus.

``It's a big game and a big-time rivalry,'' said Miami defensive end Anthony Chickillo, a third-generation Hurricane who thinks he's either watched or attended every Miami-Florida State since he was 5 or 6 years old. ``You try to treat every single week as the same and approach it the same. But this is a game you definitely know the rivalry and the history of. Other games don't get the hype ... like this one does.''

Miami quarterback Stephen Morris is doubtful for the game with a sprained left ankle, though he did take part in some light drills in practice earlier in the week. If he cannot play, Ryan Williams will start for the Hurricanes.

Another nagging injury matter for Miami is freshman running back Duke Johnson's sore toe, though Johnson expects to play - and the Seminoles expect the nation's top freshman in terms of all-purpose yards so far this season to be at a high level.

``He's elusive. He's one of those Reggie Bush-type guys,'' Florida State running back Devonta Freeman - a Miami native - said of Johnson. ``I've always seen it in him. I think I was about 11, Duke was probably 9 or 10, I always just knew he was going to be that kind of guy.''

The game matters for bragging rights, matters in the standings, matters on some level in recruiting. Both teams will have plenty of prospects with eyes on Saturday night, and if they can't be there, it's getting shown to virtually the entire country on ABC.

But for Miami, it matters mainly because Florida State is where the Hurricanes want to be. The Seminoles went through their rough patch, and now seem to be back as a consistently ranked, consistently contending program.

Golden hopes Saturday can be a step for his team to get to that level.

``They're ahead of us right now,'' Golden said. ``Hats off to them. We've got to chase them. We've got to get to where we want to be.''

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.


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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.


Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.


Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.


Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.


Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.