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Seminoles feeling good after big win

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- They call it "throwing up The U," the act of holding outstretched hands high, then bringing the tips of one's thumbs together to create Miami's distinctive logo.

It's usually a welcome sight in Miami. Not so much Saturday, when Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder made it a mock salute.

"Just trying to enjoy the moment," Ponder said.

Who can blame him?

For the first time since October 2005, the Seminoles (5-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are the top-ranked Sunshine State team in The Associated Press Top 25 poll, checking in at No. 16 Sunday after going on the road and beating rival Miami by a surprisingly easy 45-17 margin.

Miami (3-2, 1-1) fell from 13th to out of the rankings. The last time a week brought that kind of Hurricane free fall was 1981.

"You have to learn how to take your lumps at some point," Miami kicker Matt Bosher said. "It (stinks) to do it, but you have to do it."

Ask the Seminoles. They know.

Since getting drubbed 47-17 at Oklahoma in Week 2, Florida State is 4-0, outscoring foes 144-41. The four-game winning streak matches the Seminoles' best since the start of 2005, and Saturday's romp gave linebacker Kendall Smith the honor of executing a big-road-win tradition -- taking scissors and cutting out some sod to take back to Tallahassee.

"Confidence as an athlete or a program, it's something that you don't know when it comes," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "It just comes. And when confidence comes with anything that we do, then we really can take off and explode. But confidence can be a scary thing. You've got to know how to control confidence."

That's not really a problem right now at Miami.

The Hurricanes are hurting, in more ways than one.

Once again, Miami is at a midseason crossroads. The 'Canes are 3-0 against unranked teams (with a 106-24 scoring margin) and 0-2 against ranked teams, losing those games by a combined 81-41. And if that wasn't enough, quarterback Jacory Harris was limping for most of the game against Florida State.

"We don't have a great football team," Miami coach Randy Shannon said Sunday. "We have a good football team. And if we want to take that next step, myself and the coaching staff and these players have to all be on the same page ... and we'll do that."

Miami was gathering Sunday to watch video of the Florida State debacle, which was something just about every Hurricane was dreading. It's normally a team with a wide range of opinions -- except on Saturday night.

"Embarrassing," Bosher said.

"Unacceptable," cornerback Brandon Harris said.

"Back to the drawing board," linebacker Sean Spence said.

You get the idea. Shannon raised some eyebrows by insisting after the game that he wanted all the blame for the loss, and reiterated that again Sunday morning. His players weren't interested in letting that happen.

"He wants all the blame and he ultimately knows it's his football team," Brandon Harris said. "He's ultimately responsible for the wins and losses. But as players, we don't let him sit there -- we can't let him sit there -- and take all the blame. We're out there on the field. We're playing. We have to make the plays."

Jacory Harris completed 19 of 47 passes for 225 yards for Miami, limping throughout the night with what Shannon confirmed was a pulled groin muscle.

It was the 33rd game this season in which a major college quarterback tried at least 37 passes in a game. Of those, only one other QB -- BYU's Jake Heaps, on Oct. 1 against Utah State -- failed to throw for a touchdown.

"He managed it well," Shannon said of his quarterback. "We just didn't get anything going."

That wasn't a problem for Florida State, which came to Miami expecting to win. But a four-touchdown victory, well, that wasn't exactly the plan.

"I can't believe it just happened," Ponder said. "I can believe it, just because of the team we have, but you would have thought it would have been a lot closer."

Fisher said he allowed himself 10 minutes to enjoy the win. By the time he walked out of Sun Life Stadium early Sunday, he was already thinking about this weekend and Boston College.

Miami could only wish to move on so quickly.

"Words can't even express how I feel right now," Spence said. "I just feel terrible."