TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Growing up in Charlotte, N.C., meant that the Florida State-Miami rivalry wasn’t often on Josh Brown’s radar.
But Brown was introduced to the series in a big way in 2015, when, as a senior in high school, he and his family visited Tallahassee to see the 12th-ranked Seminoles host the Hurricanes in a night game at Doak Campbell Stadium.
“Even from the stands, as a recruit, you could see the passion that the players play with in that game,” Brown said. “It was just a real exciting environment, being around the fans and watching it.”
And that’s to say nothing of the game’s first touchdown, a 72-yard run from Dalvin Cook that caused the sold-out stadium to erupt.
“All the recruits were up there going crazy,” Brown said with a smile. “Just as the fans were. Me and my family were as well.”
Now a sophomore linebacker at FSU, Brown hopes to help continue the Florida State tradition of passion and intensity against its rival from the south.
He hopes to help carry on the Seminoles’ recent tradition of beating the Hurricanes, too.
FSU enters its 62nd meeting with Miami (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN) riding a seven-game winning streak that spans the entire length of the Jimbo Fisher era.
A win would mark the longest streak by either program against the other, as well as tie the all-time series, 31-31. FSU and Miami haven’t been tied all-time since 1974.
More pertinent to modern times, though, is that no one in FSU’s locker room knows what it’s like to lose to the Hurricanes.
The last time it happened, in 2009, the Seminoles’ freshman class was in the fifth grade.
Since then, it’s been dominance from Florida State. And no one at FSU wants to be the team that lets that dominance lapse.
“Oh, no doubt,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I mean, you always want to keep that going. Because you understand the importance of the rivalry. It’s one of the reasons you play at Florida State. … You want your legacy of how you play against them to be very good.”
Fisher’s legacy against rivals Miami and Florida is nearly perfect, a combined 13-1.
But a tumultuous start to the season has led some college football pundits to think that this might be Miami’s year to finally snap its skid.
The Hurricanes, in their second year under coach Mark Richt, are 3-0, ranked 13th nationally and playing with a confidence that perhaps has been absent at times during the last seven seasons.
That, coupled with FSU’s 1-2 start, has made this the first meeting between a ranked Miami and an unranked FSU since 1983.
“If Miami wants to beat Florida State for the first time since 2009,” a Sporting News predictions column says, “now is the time to do it.”
Still, it’s not as if each of those seven wins have all come under the same circumstances.
Since 2009, FSU has met the Hurricanes as both an undefeated national-title contender (2013, 2014) and an unranked team with multiple losses (2011).
Some of the games have been routs while others have been nail-biters.
But the one thing they’ve all had in common is the winner.
“We all know that it’s a rivalry game,” Richt told reporters this week. “Rivalry games are important. They’re better rivalries when there’s some winning and losing on both sides, and that hasn’t happened lately.”
The Seminoles would just as soon keep it that way for another seven years or longer.
South Florida-based talent is woven into the fabric of FSU’s football program – from past legends like Marvin Jones and Snoop Minnis to more recent stars like Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook – and this year’s roster has five players who call Miami home, with several more from the surrounding area.
The FSU-Miami game annually pits childhood friends and high school teammates against each other, and a win makes it that much sweeter for the Miami-based players when they head home during the holidays and summer.
“When you go back to your high schools … you tend to always have a little bit more bragging rights,” said FSU defensive tackle Fredrick Jones, who played at Miami Central High.
“I know a lot of those guys on the team,” said safety Derwin James, who developed friendships with Miami’s Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards on the recruiting trail.
“It’s always great when we can say that we’ve beaten y’all the last couple years.”