September 8, 2009 7:00 AM

Miami-FSU Rivalry Goes Old School

This was Miami-Florida State the way we remember. You know, when the 'Canes and 'Noles mattered. When they staged some of the greatest games of the 1980s and '90s. When the winner often played for the national title, and the loser rarely lost to anyone else.

Yep, seemed like old times at Doak Campbell Stadium on Monday night. To make sure, I checked a calender and my waistline. Both assured me it was 2009, not 1989 or 1999.

Miami 38, FSU 34. An instant classic and perhaps the best game of college football's opening weekend. FSU coach Bobby Bowden called it "a great game,'' the third-best game he could remember being a part of behind FSU's 1987 home loss to Miami and a loss at Notre Dame.

ACC officials immediately filed prayer requests for a rematch in Tampa in the struggling ACC Championship Game come December.

The game wasn't decided until the final play when Seminoles quarterback Christian Ponder rolled to his right with five seconds left and threw a pass to Jarmon Fortson in the end zone. The ball was low but catchable. It went through Fortson's arms, and hit the ground.

Not until the officials reviewed the play did the 81,077 in attendance finally take a breath. It was that kind of night.

"We had a chance to win it, and we couldn't come up with the ball,'' Bowden said.

While FSU failed to score a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds, the Seminoles walked off the field confident.

"This is a good team,'' receiver Bert Reed set. "We lost this game, but we're not going to let this drag us down. We're too good to let one game get us down.''

What did the Noles learn Monday?

* Ponder looks like the real deal. The redshirt junior finished 24 of 41 for a career-high 294 yards and looked poised and confident.

* True freshman Greg Reid could be that playmaker that Bowden says FSU has missed of late. Reid picked off a pass, had 100 yards in kickoff returns, and caused Miami quarterback Jacory Harris to throw an interception on a hit.

* FSU's secondary is a mess. Harris threw for 386 yards and faced little pressure.

* Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has a lot of work to do before the Seminoles host Jacksonville State on Monday; meanwhile, for the first time since he arrived at FSU in 2007, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher is comfortable with the starting quarterback and it showed by his play-calling.

More analysis to come on Tuesday from FSU's performance against Miami.

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