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Florida State-Miami needs more juice. Here are four ways to make it matter again.

From 1984-2006, FSU and Miami had 19 top-15 matchups. Since then? Only one.
 
Florida State Seminoles running back Cam Akers (3) loses his helmet during the second half of the Florida State Seminoles game against the Miami Hurricanes on October 7, 2017. [ MONICA HERNDON  |  Times ]
Florida State Seminoles running back Cam Akers (3) loses his helmet during the second half of the Florida State Seminoles game against the Miami Hurricanes on October 7, 2017. [ MONICA HERNDON | Times ]
Published Oct. 5, 2018

After spending more than two decades around Florida State/Miami, Hurricanes coach Mark Richt knows the series as well as anyone.

"It's a great rivalry," Richt said during his weekly news conference.

But it's not what it used to be, or what it should be.

"I think right this minute, I wouldn't say everybody's looking at this game saying who's going to decide who's in the College Football Playoff," Richt said. "For it to be really, really great, it's got to get back to that. I think it will get back to that, but it's not there right yet."

Not even close.

FSU's trip to No. 17 Miami isn't the state's most important rivalry game this weekend. That game is in Gainesville, where the No. 22 Gators host unbeaten No. 5 LSU.

It might not be the biggest in-state matchup of the season, either. The War on I-4 will have a bigger impact nationally, if the Bulls and No. 12 Knights both keep winning.

Saturday's game at Hard Rock Stadium will still be intense and physical for the players and meaningful to both fan bases. But it needs more juice.

Here are four ways to get it back to its rightful place:

More trash talk

Richt said legendary coaches Bobby Bowden and Howard Schnellenberger knew how to market each other and the rivalry, which helped it grow. "They put the boxing gloves on," Richt said.

That's what UF and LSU have been doing. Players debate which team is the real DBU. The programs sparred over Hurricane Matthew, with then-UF coach Jim McElwain saying the Tigers "got what they deserved" after his team's home win in Baton Rouge. Now the series has grown to the point where Gators defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson called it "the biggest game of the year for both teams."

FSU-Miami got some of that spice this week when 'Canes offensive lineman Venzell Boulware referred to Miami's turnover bag as a "purse" and "the Dora bag" — a reference to the cartoon Dora the Explorer. But it needs more. Maybe the Seminoles could call Miami's turnover chain a necklace?

The  ‘Canes must win more

Rivalry implies close competition that hasn't existed recently. FSU had won seven in a row before Miami's last-second comeback in Tallahassee last year.

That streak is over, but another remains: Miami has never beaten the 'Noles at Hard Rock Stadium and doesn't have a home win in the series since 2004. "That's a meaningful bit of history that we need to change the course of," Richt said.

Change it, and the rivalry can start to become more meaningful.

Date continuity

Then-FSU coach Jimbo Fisher brought this idea up at last year's ACC Kickoff. The SEC's rivalries have regular dates: the Iron Bowl (Thanksgiving weekend), Florida-Georgia (Halloween weekend) and Alabama-Tennessee (the third Saturday in October).

FSU-Miami? Since 2006, it's been everywhere from Labor Day to mid-November.

Have the teams and ACC pick a regular weekend and make it a focal point of the league's schedule.

Return to national prominence — together

From 1984-2006, both teams were ranked in the top 15 in 19 of their 24 meetings. Six games were top-five matchups.

Since then, only one has been a top-15 showdown: FSU's 27-point blowout during its 2013 national title run.

When FSU was elite with Jameis Winston, the 'Canes were mediocre. When Miami was a playoff contender last year, the 'Noles were mediocre.

It's obvious and easier-said-than done, but true: Until the 'Canes and 'Noles both become great again, at the same time, FSU-Miami won't be one of the best rivalries in the nation.

It'll be just another rivalry in a sport teeming with them.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.