MIAMI — No. 12 Florida State suffered an injury to its leading rusher.
It suffered from a flood of fumbles and its most penalized performance of the year to fuel Miami's upset hopes.
But with its trademark stalwart defense, it withstood the rival Hurricanes and emerged from a raucous Sun Life Stadium with a 33-20 victory on Saturday night.
The win extends FSU's winning streak over instate rivals Florida and Miami to a program-best five games. It also keeps the Seminoles (7-1, 4-1 ACC) perfect against the Hurricanes under coach Jimbo Fisher.
It didn't come easily against Miami (4-4, 3-2) and a divided crowd of 73,328.
The Seminoles fumbled almost as many times Saturday (five) as they had in the first seven games combined (six). FSU had lost only four fumbles all season — second in the ACC — but lost two Saturday.
The costliest one came early. Tight end Nick O'Leary tried to hurdle defensive back Brandon McGee on FSU's first play from scrimmage.
But a hard hit by linebacker Denzel Perryman jarred the ball loose. The Hurricanes' Jimmy Gaines recovered, setting up a 9-yard touchdown run by Mike James that gave Miami a 7-0 lead.
FSU shanked a 17-yard punt on its next possession, giving the 'Canes the ball at the Seminoles 35.
Miami capitalized again with a 19-yard field goal by Jake Wieclaw.
The Seminoles finally came back by buckling down on defense and forcing some turnovers of its own. Linebacker Christian Jones recovered a fumble by quarterback Stephen Morris in Hurricanes territory, which led to a 33-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.
FSU started to click after that despite a left knee injury to leading rusher Chris Thompson. Plant High product James Wilder tied the score at 10 with a bruising 17-yard touchdown rush with 4:56 left in the second quarter.
The Seminoles stole the lead, in spite of more mistakes.
A false start penalty with seven seconds left in the second quarter nearly wiped out a shot at Hopkins' 46-yard field goal, which gave FSU a 13-10 halftime lead.
Hopkins missed a 44-yarder wide left on the Seminoles' first drive of the second half, and FSU appeared to score again with a 2-yard pass from EJ Manuel to Kelvin Benjamin. But Benjamin was flagged for one of FSU's three offensive pass interference penalties. So the Seminoles had to settle for another of Hopkins' four field goals and a 16-10 lead.
FSU's defense made sure that was enough cushion. After allowing 71 yards and two scores in the first quarter, the it allowed only 93 in the next two periods. They harassed Morris with four sacks — one more than Miami had allowed over its past five games combined — while holding him to 150 yards heading into the game's closing minutes.
Miami second score with the outcome in doubt, a 27-yard field goal late in the third quarter on a drive aided by a personal foul on FSU freshman Mario Edwards.
The Seminoles answered immediately. Devonta Freeman's 3-yard touchdown rush capped a 74-yard drive, and he added another touchdown rush in the closing minutes to seal FSU's sixth win in its last eight matchups against the 'Canes.
Times staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected]