Posted September 20, 2013
By MATIAS WODNER
Trash talking came early and often. Then the tables turned and the trash talking continued.
Welcome to a rivalry.
The University of Miami and the University of Florida have been directly linked with one another ever since Miami was established in 1925. In 1938, they began playing football against each other. They have been doing so until the present day. And the more they play, the more they seem to dislike each other. Be it because of envy or because of academic standing as incredibly well-respected schools, there is a good amount of bad blood between the two. Both on and off the field.
Florida is the public school with a great reputation, holding steady as a top-notch haven for Floridian and out-of-state students alike. Miami is the private school that has become one of the Top 50 schools in the entire country.
As football teams, the Gators and the Hurricanes both have very decorated pasts.
The Gators had been consistently inconsistent from the 1950s through the 1980s. Then the 1990s came, along with Coach Steve Spurrier and a run of dominance in the Southeastern Conference was underway. The Gators won their first national championship in 1996 and then the Coach Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow era came along in 2006 and 2008. They were unstoppable and won two more national championships during that period.
The Hurricanes broke through a little bit earlier. Officially becoming famously known as “The U” in the 1980s, the Canes won three national championships in that decade, each with a different coach. Then another one came in 1991 and one more a decade later. In 2002, they lost a heartbreaker in the national championship on a questionable call, and the dominance ended there.
Going head-to-head, the overall series has been a story of runs. From 1957 to 1960 the Gators won four straight against the Hurricanes, and from 1971-77 they won seven straight. From 1953 to 1956 and from 1978 to 1981 the Canes won four straight. Then Miami won seven straight with two games being played in the mid-1980s and the others coming in the early 2000s after a 15-year hiatus in the rivalry.
Going into Saturday’s game this year, the overall series stood at 28-26 in favor of Miami. Florida was favored. Miami was the underdog. Game on.
“The game is going to be over by halftime, and I can’t wait until that happens,” University of Florida Sophomore Golan Barhai stated. “Our defense is way too good and UM isn’t as good as people think they might be.”
“This means more to us because we’re ranked and we need wins. Miami isn’t going anywhere,” said Barhai.
For UF, this game seemed to be all about football. Coming into it as the 12th ranked team in the country, they couldn’t afford to lose this one. The national championship was on the Gators’ mind. And that’s expected from UF. A win would also help bridge the gap in the head-to-head series.
But to UM, it appeared as if it would mean more than just the game.
Marc Taylor, a sophomore at the University of Miami, was inspired by what a win would mean for the University.
“A win would fire up the students and the campus as a whole. Not to mention how much confidence it would give to our football team,” he said.
Well, Saturday came. It was game time. Needless to say, the crowd was electric and the atmosphere needed to be felt to be believed.
The Canes took the lead first, with a seven-yard touchdown by quarterback Stephen Morris throwing to Herb Waters. Gator quarterback Jeff Driskel responded with a running touchdown, but Miami quickly struck back with a 52-yard bomb from Morris to Phillip Dorsett. That gave Miami a 14-6 lead. A lead The U would add on to when they went up 21-9 late in the fourth quarter, helped by a two-yard rushing touchdown from Heisman candidate Duke Johnson. Florida retaliated with a touchdown of their own, making it 21-16 and, with Miami going three-and-out on the next possession, the Gators had a sliver of a chance to score again.
They didn’t, and the crowd erupted with tenacity in pure jubilation. The Canes had done what they had set out to do, proving nearly everyone wrong and gaining back some of the confidence that had once made them a national powerhouse.
“We definitely got some swagger back after this one,” University of Miami defensive end Dwayne Hoilett told me. “It felt so good to come away with a W against them. We really wanted this one and we got it.”
The school itself might have needed this more than its football team did. Being in that stadium and around the students, it really felt as if the whole school came together in unity. Along with that unity came a sense of braggadocio. But the type that you don’t let get to your head. The one that carries momentum and makes everyone better.
As for the historic rivalry that this game was a part of: Miami is still on top, now 29-26. It feels like the Gators will have something to say about that next time they both meet. It also feels like the Canes will be ready for the challenge.