The Seminoles are not No. 1 as they were last year, but don't tell that to the Hurricanes.
"This team is much stronger than last year," said Miami coach Dennis Erickson. "There's no comparison.
"The defense is the big difference. This is FSU's best defense since I've been here. Their defensive line is much better."
Even one of FSU's biggest critics is impressed.
"Their defense is great," said former UM linebacker Bernard Clark. "I mean, Charlie Ward throws five interceptions and they still win easily. That's a great defense, if you can do that. They might be the best defense in the country."
Former 'Canes apply pressure
The UM players finally got some rest Friday when the team moved to a hotel.
Former players began calling on Wednesday and continued Thursday evening. It's a UM tradition. Michael Irvin, the Blades brothers (Bennie and Brian), Cortez Kennedy and Russell Maryland were among the callers reminding current players that it was their duty to beat FSU.
Irvin and Maryland also sent a videotape expressing their sentiments. The tape was shown in a players' meeting.
Mascot joins injured Medearis
Injured defensive end Rusty Medearis is expected to join the team on the sidelines today, even though he's been hospitalized after surgery Sunday.
"I think it would take another hurricane to keep him away," said cornerback Ryan McNeil.
Another injured Hurricane will be in attendance. Sebastian the Ibis, UM's mascot, tore cartilage in his left knee when he high-fived McNeil after Arizona missed a potential game-winning kick last week. However, he will be at the Orange Bowl to mug for the TV cameras.
Freshman has tumor removed
Miami freshman defensive lineman Ceasar O'Neil had a malignant tumor removed from his right kidney, doctors said Friday.
All malignant tissue and the tumor were removed during the surgery Thursday, and there was no evidence of the cancerous tissue spreading, said Jackson Memorial Hospital surgeon Dr. Alan Livingstone.
Livingstone said he was optimistic Ceasar would recover fully.
"Our prayers go out to Ceasar and his family for a full and speedy recovery," said head coach Dennis Erickson. "We are hopeful that Ceasar will be able to return to our football team soon."
The 19-year-old freshman was a first-team USA Today All-American and state shot put champion his senior year at Huntsville (Texas) High School.
Can FSU break the streak?
Miami's 47-game winning streak at the Orange Bowl is the second-longest home streak in NCAA history, behind Alabama's 57 consecutive wins from 1963-82.
Miami hasn't lost at the Orange Bowl since its 1985 season opener, won by Florida 35-23. So what makes the Hurricanes unbeatable at home?
FSU coach Bobby Bowden says it's the quality of the team.
"The fact the University of Miami plays there is what makes things tough," said Bowden. "We can't get in a stadium louder than Clemson, LSU or Florida. Miami is nearly that loud, but that's not the difference. Miami's got those players that don't lose there."
Playing the Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl
%% WARNING %%wasn't always such a daunting task. From 1963 to 1984, Florida State won 11 of 13 games at Miami.
_ STAFF, WIRE REPORTS