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Like FSU, Miami Hurricanes head to Orlando for spring game before huge fall opener

How the Seminoles’ 2016 decision mirrors what rival Miami is doing this weekend at Camping World Stadium.
Deondre Francois and the Florida State Seminoles got a test run of Orlando's Camping World Stadium before they played a real game there, the 2016 opener against Ole Miss. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published Apr. 19

The Miami Hurricanes will hold their spring scrimmage Saturday in the same stadium that will host their marquee season opener against an SEC team (Florida).

Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

Sound familiar? It’s the same thing Florida State did in 2016 before it opened against Ole Miss.

The Seminoles traveled south because of renovations at Doak Campbell Stadium, where the Jimbotron and Champions Club were being installed. That’s slightly different from Miami, which wanted to play on April 20 but couldn’t because Hard Rock Stadium was booked for a Rolling Stones concert (which has since been postponed because of Mick Jagger’s health problems).

Regardless, the archrivals made the same decision: Go to Orlando in the spring to prepare for the fall.

“It gives us the opportunity to play in the stadium we’re going to open up in,” then-FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said that spring. “We get some of the fans from south and central Florida that don’t always get to the spring game. They’ll have a chance to come out and see us. Our kids can get out and meet everybody. Some of our young guys can get out and travel and understand what a road game is.”

So how did it work out for the ’Noles?

Florida State star Dalvin Cook was familiar with Camping World Stadium before the 2016 opener against Ole Miss. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)

The crowd was strong; the announced attendance of 49,913 was 22,000 more than what FSU drew at home two weeks ago.

If the ’Noles were trying to boost their recruiting presence in talent-rich Orlando, it didn’t have any tangible effects. FSU’s 2017 class didn’t include any players from the Orlando area (although it did include DeCalon Brooks from Tampa and Cyrus Fagan from Daytona Beach).

But it did give FSU’s players familiarity with the stadium, the set-up and even the hotel they’d revisit in four-plus months.

“Anytime you go and you’ve been in the building you are going to play in, stayed in the hotel and slept in those beds and know what to kind of expect, it never hurts,” Fisher said after the spring game, which ended in a 24-24 tie.

“We killed two birds with one stone. We got down here to see our fans and also got a pre-game run like we’ll prepare for in the fall.”

It’s hard to say how much that test run affected FSU, but the end result worked out for the ’Noles. They overcome a 22-point deficit to earn a 45-34 win over Ole Miss in the biggest comeback victory in program history.

We’ll see whether the ’Canes’ trial this weekend helps them Aug. 24 against the Gators.

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