ONCE UPON a time, it was the rivalry.

Florida State-Miami. From 1983 to 2001 it produced seven national champions. And at least that many near-misses. If not for Miami, Bobby Bowden might have a ring on every finger.

There was Wide Right I, II and III. And even a Wide Left. You can't make that up.

Mostly, though, it's been a while. But last November the Hurricanes headed to Tallahassee unbeaten and ranked seventh. FSU, which was No. 3, won 41-14. Two months later the Seminoles got their first title since 1999. The 'Canes finished 9-4.

Miami lost three of its first six this season, all by double digits and all on the road. So Al Golden, now in his fourth year after taking Temple from 0-11 to 9-4, was maybe starting to feel at least a little more urgency. Since then, his guys have beaten Cincinnati by 21, Virginia Tech by 24 and North Carolina by 27.

They've lost the last four to FSU and haven't beaten the 'Noles at home in a decade.

FSU hasn't lost in nearly 2 years. These 'Noles have had their close calls. Ask Clemson, Notre Dame or Louisville. They have trailed in each of their last three, including last week against 4-6 Virginia at home when they became the 25th FBS team to win 25 straight.

Jameis Winston, who doesn't look like he's going to win the Heisman Trophy again, has thrown 11 interceptions. Six were in those last three games. He had 10 in 2013. He's also been at his best in the second halves against ND and Louisville, where FSU trailed by 17 early in the third quarter on the road.

For whatever reasons, the 'Noles aren't as good as last year. Someone still has to beat them. Miami has been that team enough times before, even if it was a different Miami.

Only once have they ever met later than this in the regular season. The 1991 game was Nov. 16. That was the first Wide Right, when Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in Tallahassee to give second-ranked Miami a 17-16 win over No. 1. The 'Canes went on to claim their fourth title in nine seasons.

In the 2004 Orange Bowl, Miami beat No. 9 FSU, 16-14. Xavier Beitia missed a 39-yarder to the right with 5:30 to go. In 2002 he'd missed left from 43 as time expired in a one-point loss to No. 1.

Maybe it's about time for another historical chapter.

Random thought

If Mississippi State loses a close enough game at Alabama and both finish with one loss, I want to see the Selection Committee keep both of them out of the inaugural four-team playoff.

Spotlight on ... Division III showdown

Widener and Delaware Valley have played 36 times since 1977. Fifteen of those games were the regular-season finale, including the last five and nine of the last 11.

Saturday will be the first time they've met when both have been unbeaten (9-0).

Visiting Del Val is ranked 15th in Division III for first-year coach Duke Greco, who a decade ago was the Aggies' quarterback. Widener is No. 10 with first-year coach Mike Kelly, a scout/assistant with the Eagles in 2001-02.

"I don't know if this has ever happened [with new coaches]," said Kelly, who's been in the profession for some 3 decades at just about every level. "It's kind of cool, though. Wonder what we're going to do next year?"

Widener has won 29 times. The Aggies have taken eight of the last 11, including last November in Doylestown, 35-27. Two years ago in Chester unbeaten, No. 9 Widener won 42-23.

The winner gets the MAC title, the Keystone Cup and a spot in the NCAA tourney. The loser may also be part of the 32-team field, but there's no guarantee.

"We both have a lot of kids from Philly so it's a local game," said Greco. "We take a lot of pride in that."

Del Val is averaging 45 points per. Rasheed Bailey leads D-III in three receiving categories. Widener, which has yet to trail, scores 40 and allows 10. It leads D-III in rushing defense (42.9-yard average), after being picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll.

"It's two really good football teams," said Kelly. "I don't care how many roman numerals come after the D. Rightfully so, it's drawing national attention. It's a shame more people don't appreciate just how good we play at our level ...

"In the end, we'll both have a black eye and bloody nose. Then there'll be some pretty good hugs."

Trivial pursuit

The last time Miami beat Florida State in Miami, who was the Hurricanes' quarterback? Hints: He originally went to another school and played sparingly in the NFL with four teams. See Answer Man.

Sidelines

AAC ME UP

* Memphis (6-3) is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2008 and three games over .500 for the first time since 2004.

* Cincinnati's Mike Boone, a true freshman, has had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games and is averaging 89.2 yards per in his four appearances. He's already the team's top rusher, with 357 yards, despite having only eight carries before those last two games.

* Tulsa has scored 38 in both of its wins. Each of those games ended with a Tulsa interception.

* Tulane freshman Parry Nickerson leads the AAC with six interceptions.

IT'S A SMALLS WORLD

* West Chester (9-1), ranked 17th in Division II, will get an at-large spot in the national playoffs if it wins at Indiana (6-4). Coach Bill Zwaan - who made it last year for the sixth time - is going for his 100th victory in 12 seasons. He's 1-3 against IUP, a team the Rams haven't played since 2011. "We pretend like we don't think about it, but we do," Zwaan acknowledged. "I'd rather have it happen in a game that means something."

* Rowan (6-3) will win the NJAC and get an automatic bid to the Division III tournament if it wins tomorrow at the College of New Jersey (2-7). The Profs, who've taken five of the last six meetings, would win the tiebreaker with Montclair (7-2) and Morrisville (8-2) based upon point differential in the games between those three teams.

* Gettysburg (4-5) hosts Franklin & Marshall (5-4) in the 100th meeting. The series is tied 46-46-7. For the first time the winner will receive the Lincoln Trophy, which has been molded and carved from the remains of two trees that "bore witness" when the 16th president visited Gettsyburg after the 1863 battle.

Answer man

Brock Berlin, who spent two seasons at Florida, where he mostly sat behind Rex Grossman.

Week 12 schedule

CFB PLAYOFF TOP 25

SATURDAY

1. Mississippi St. at 5. Alabama (CBS) 3:30

3. Florida St. at Miami (Fla.) (ABC) 8:00

4. Texas Christian at Kansas (FS1) 3:00

6. Arizona St. at Oregon St. (ESPN) 10:45

8. Ohio St. at 25. Minnesota (ABC) 12:00

9. Auburn at 15. Georgia (ESPN) 7:15

12. Michigan St. at Maryland (B10) 8:00

14. Arizona vs. Washington (FOX) 3:30

16. Nebraska at 20. Wisconsin (ABC) 3:30

17. Louisiana St. at Arkansas (ESPN2) 8:00

18. Notre Dame vs. Northwestern (NBC) 3:30

19. Clemson at 22. Georgia Tech (ESPN) 12:00

21. Duke vs. Virginia Tech (ESPNU) 12:00

23. Utah at Stanford (P12) 6:00

24. Texas A&M vs. Missouri (SEC) 7:30

AREA

SATURDAY

Temple at Penn St. (ESPN2) 12:00

Delaware at New Hampshire 1:00

Harvard at Penn 1:00

Albany at Villanova (TCN) 7:00

On Twitter: @mikekerndn