A Game That Canes Fans Will Never Forget

I was at the last game in the Orange Bowl, and witnessed that 48-0 loss to Virginia. I watched for seven years FSU beat around the Canes, and completely dominate the state of Florida. For the past 15 years, I’ve witnessed the demise of Miami Hurricane football, and have seen the program go from perennial national champion contenders, to NCAA violations, to half empty Dolphin Stadium crowds, losing to USF, Randy Shannon and Al Golden, Jacoby Harris, Nevin Shapiro, no bowl wins for a decade. For the majority of my youth, the University of Miami football team has been a laughing stock, and an embarrassment to South Florida.

 

All of last week, from the end of the Virginia Tech game, all the way to the opening kickoff against Notre Dame was a special seven days. You could feel the excitement building up around the college football world, and I’m sure the city of Miami was alive.

 

Former Canes, from Ray Lewis to Michael Irvin, from Ed Reed to the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, they were all supporting the U on social media, getting the team ready to play the Irish.

 

College Gameday was actually on campus, the show was in Miami was for the first time in 16 years.

 

All week long I listened to Dan LeBetard, Stugotz and Mike Ryan all talk about this team, and how they may not be ready to beat the Irish, though Mike sounded like me, excited as can be.

 

Miami, the orange and green took the field on Saturday night, and Hard Rock Stadium was packed. You saw guys like Reed, Clinton Portis and Warren Sapp on the sideline, and you just thought, “there is no way that the Canes are losing tonight.”

 

And then the game began.

 

To say that Miami was dominant is almost an understatement. The Hurricanes defense alone looked by a pack of lions attacking a single poor animal. Josh Adams, the Irish running back who was in the Heisman conversation, was held to 40 yards on 16 carries. Notre Dame’s rushing offense that was ranked third in the nation, produced only 109 yards, averaging just 3 yards per carry.

 

The famous turnover chain was out early. Brandon Wimbush, the Notre Dame quarterback threw two interceptions in the first half, as he looked like a truck had just ran over him. Wimbush was benched in the second quarter for Ian Book, who himself threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown with just seconds to go in the half.

 

With the Canes up 27-0 at halftime, Hard Rock Stadium was a non-stop party. The game was over in the second quarter, and the fans knew it. Even watching the game on television, that was the loudest Hurricane crowd I had heard since the days of the Orange Bowl.

 

Two years ago, this program was a complete mess. Miami had just suffered a 58-0 home loss to Clemson, fired their head coach, and it seemed that the program wouldn’t be back for a while.

 

Fast forward to this Monday, Miami is ranked 2nd in the AP poll, they are 9-0 for the first time since 2002, are going to the ACC championship game, and have a real shot at potentially playing for the national championship.

 

For those Canes fans who have suffered like I have, that win on Saturday was for you, so enjoy it.

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Things South Florida Sports Fans Don’t Say

  • “The 30 for 30 about the U wasn’t even that good.”

Thanks to that production by Billy Corben, kids nowadays are still throwing up the U even with the last decade of pathetic football.

  • “Man, I really miss Al Golden.”

Al Golden, though he had the misfortune of taking over the program when the Nevin Shapiro crap hit the fan, Golden took this team to the depths of hell. He never beat Florida State, zero bowl wins, and his last ever game as head coach? A 58-0 home loss to Clemson.

  • “The Orange Bowl? I don’t miss that piece of crap.”

If you ever hear somebody say, punch them square in the face. Yes I’ll admit it, the Orange Bowl was a piece of crap, but that’s why we loved it. Yes there were food trucks outside the stadium, where you really weren’t sure what you were eating, over the PA announcer that sounded like he was talking into a cup. All that being said, the Orange Bowl is the greatest stadium in the history of South Florida, and that place would rock. When FSU would come to town and they’d add in the stands in the endzone, when the fans in the upper deck would bang their shoes on the signs, the stadium would literally be shaking.

  • “I call it Hard Rock Stadium”

Any local of South Florida, or somebody who has been here for twenty plus years either calls it Joe Robbie, Pro Player, or they make of fun by calling the stadium one of 47 names it had before Hard Rock.

  • “Oh tonight? Sorry I can’t, gotta watch the Marlins game”

Not to be rude, because I’ve been to hundreds of their games, but nobody in South Florida cares about the Marlins, a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in 14 years.

  • “I wish there were more Jets fans here!”
  • “I wish there were more Yankees fans here!”
  • “I really think Glenn Sharpe committed that pass interference penalty”

-The worst call in the history of the University of Miami football program. That blown call against Ohio State in the 2003 National Championship cost the Canes a repeat title, and also a downward spiral of the program happened after that game. Miami hasn’t been back to a title game since.

  • “I’m glad Tony Fiorentino isn’t coming back for Heat games”

Ever since the 2004-2005 season, Tony and Eric Reid, have done the tv broadcasting for Heat games, and they were the voice of my childhood and thousands of other Heat fans. It was announced that this will be Tony’s last year.

  • “I think Kyle Wright and Jacoby Harris got too bad of a rep”

The two worst quarterbacks for UM in the 21st century, especially Wright.

  • “The Dolphins fight song is really pretty stupid”

-The best fight song in professional sports.

  • “Dan Marino was pretty overrated”

Next to Jay Cutler, the greatest quarterback in franchise history, and there will never be another one like him (unless Cutler wins a ring).

  • “I was so happy when the Marlins got rid of Miguel Cabrera”
  • “Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas? Who are they?”
  • “I have season tickets to the Marlins”
  • “The fake spike game was cool, but Fins fans overhype it way too much”

Every Dolphins fan will tell you that the “fake spike” game between the Dolphins and the green team from New York is one of the greatest games in franchise history.

  • “I love how committed Miami fans are! They show up early, and definitely don’t leave at halftime”
  • “I didn’t have a D Wade jersey growing up”
  • LeBron is my favorite Heat player of all time”
  • “D Wade isn’t my favorite Heat player of all time”

The single most important player to the Heat in franchise history. You can say that LeBron is, but you’re wrong. When Wade pretty much single handedly brought a championship to Miami in 2006, that was one of the greatest moments in South Florida history, even better than the other two won by LeBron and co.

  • “The Mavs were definitely better than us in 2011”

I’ve been a Heat fan all my life, I’ve watched South Florida teams all my life. That series loss to the Mavericks in 2011, was the single biggest disappointment in South Florida sports history. The Mavericks came in with Jason Kidd using a cane to dribble the ball up court, and Dirk Nowitzki who obviously had his 2K sliders up, and embarrassed the Heat, who had a guy named Lebron, who promised not one, not two, not three….

  • Can’t wait for Canes basketball to start!”

Does UM have any other sports besides football?

  • Nevin Shapiro was probably a good guy”

The devil incarnate

  • The Dolphins are great at drafting”

-Dare I say Ted Ginn Jr.?

 

Miami Monday: Cutler is injured, Canes are 6-0, Fins beat that team from New York

Another weekend, another two days of both Miami football teams coming away with the W. Two New York teams entered in South Florida, both went back up East with losses, only leaving behind their elderly.

 

The Hurricanes started things out on Saturday against Syracuse, with a 27-19 win, while the Dolphins came from behind to beat out the hated Jets 31-28.

 

First things first, the Canes are riding high right now. Coming into Saturday, Mark Richt’s team was ranked eighth in the country, coming off two emotional victories over FSU and Georgia Tech. They were also looking for their first 4-0 ACC start in the schools history.

 

Coming to Miami was Syracuse, the little Orangemen who just the week before, knocked off defending national champion Clemson. Syracuse was led by their shifty quarterback Eric Dungey, who showed fans how their QB could play so poorly and yet still almost win.

 

Meeting for the first time since 2003, the last three meetings between these two teams, Miami had won by a combined score of 125-17. However, during those games, the guys who were running the ball was Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee.

 

Playing on a wet torn up field at Hard Rock Stadium, the Hurricanes offense moved fast their first few drives, and it looked as if the Syracuse victory the week before over Clemson was a just a fluke. Those promising drives however, with the lack of efficiency in the red zone, turned into just 13 first half points for the Hurricanes.

 

Miami fans however, know that this is a second half team, this point being proven in the last two weeks. Malik Rosier had a career high 344 yards through the air, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Mark Walton’s replacement Travis Homer continues to look promising, rushing for 95 yards, including a 33-yd dash to the endzone, giving the Canes an eight point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

 

While Syracuse’s Dungey rushed for 100 yards on Saturday, his passing skills were as ugly as the grass in the stadium during the game. Dungey threw four interceptions, and had a QBR of 24.0.

 

While the Orangemen sure did make it a game, it was the Hurricanes who walked away with a win, riding high with a 6-0 record, with a trip to Chapel Hill on Saturday to take on the Tar Heels.

 

Now to your world-famous Miami Dolphins. Coming off a come from behind victory the week before in Atlanta, the Jets rolled into town, with more than half of their fan base already in South Florida.

 

When thinking of this great rivalry, its hard not to think about the incredible quarterbacks that have also been involved with the Fins and the Jets. Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Ken O’Brien, and heck, even Brett Favre.

 

Taking the snaps on Sunday, Jay Cutler and Josh McCown.

 

The Jets got the better of Miami earlier in the season, defeating them in New York 20-6. Since that day 4 weeks ago, the Dolphins had played better, and were looking for their third consecutive win.

 

Early on though, it seemed as if the Jets were on their way to another win over Miami, going into the locker room with a 21-7 lead.

 

Early on in the third quarter, tragedy struck. Our beloved quarterback Jay Cutler, left the game early on in the second half after injuring his shoulder.

 

Though I don’t care as much about the Dolphins if Jay Cutler isn’t in, I should mention that Matt Moore entered the game for the first time since Bud Dupree killed him in a playoff game this past January.

 

Down 28-14 in the fourth quarter, Moore engineered yet another Dolphins comeback, tying the game at 28 with two touchdown passes to Kenny Stills.

 

Then, with less than a minute to go, “Ricky” Bobby McCain stepped in front of a McCown pass to set up Moore for a game winning drive.

 

A 39 yard field goal by Cody Parkey with 22 seconds to go sealed a Dolphins victory, and another Jets collapse.

 

The Canes are 6-0 and still ranked in the top 10, and the Fins are 4-2 and well in the AFC playoff hunt. Rock on Miami.

Miami Monday: Canes win/in top 10, Fins win/Jay Cutler MVP Watch, nobody cares about the Heat.

What a sports weekend it was for the Miami football teams.

 

On Saturday, the Hurricanes were able to squeak past always frisky Georgia Tech and their triple offense, with an incredible drive to set up a game winning field goal. Even better news for the Canes, they cracked the top 10 in the polls, going up as far as number 7 in the coaches poll.

 

As for your world famous Miami Dolphins, they were in Hot-Lanta on Sunday, taking on the defending NFC champion Falcons. Down 17-0 at halftime, it looked as if Adam Gase’s would falter under the bright lights at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. However, behind the greatness of Jay Cutler, Miami rallied and shocked the Falcons 20-17.

 

Back to the Hurricanes, Miami took the field at home on Saturday, following an emotional victory over FSU a week prior. Taking on Georgia Tech, a team that has always scared the daylights out of me. I remember all too well years like 2005, when the Yellow Jackets came into Miami to take on a third-ranked Canes, and upset the Hurricanes 14-10. Or even worse, in 2008, when Miami had just notched the top 25, and in Atlanta, Ga Tech thrashed the Canes for over 400 yards of RUSHING. So yeah, I had reason to worry.

 

Down 14-3 in the second quarter, it looked as if my fears had come true. The Yellow Jackets and their triple offense seemingly looked unstoppable in front of a half empty Hard Rock Stadium.

 

Then again in the fourth quarter, Miami found themselves down 24-22, on their own eight yard line, with 2:30 left to play.

 

However, I shouldn’t have worried, because as we found out last week, Malik Rosier is a gamer. Driving the Canes down the field to set up a field goal, Miami was cut short by penalties, that left them with 4th and 10, and out of field goal range. Remember Darrell Langham? The receiver who caught the game winning touchdown against FSU, yeah, he came up big again. Double covered by Yellow Jackets, Langham somehow made a bobbling catch set up a Michael Badgley game winning goal.

 

Just like that, the Canes are 5-0, having won their 10th straight game dating back to last year, their longest win streak in over ten years. Syracuse looks to invade Joe Robbie this weekend, coming off an upset of Clemson.

 

 

Looking to match their stadium roommates, the Dolphins traveled to Atlanta, coming off an incredible offensive performance the week prior against the Titans, (obviously that’s a joke, it was probably the worst win I’ve ever seen). In all honesty, I predicted Matt Ryan and company to run the Fins into the ground.

 

The first half, that’s exactly what happened. My boy Jay Cutler, fresh off a near 100 yard performance the week prior, struggled in the first two quarters, and the Falcons went up quickly 17-0.

However, in the second half, Cutler showed MVP-like glimpses, going 11 for 19 and two touchdowns. And while I don’t really care about any of the other players on team, Jarvis Landry caught those two beautifully thrown balls from Cutler for touchdowns, and Jay Ajayi had himself a day with 130 yards on the ground.

 

Kicker Cody Parkey knocked in two late game field goals, the second one giving the Dolphins the lead with 2:30 to go, ultimately giving Miami a 20-17 win.

 

The 17 point comeback was the teams largest since 2005, and its largest comeback on the road since the “fake spike” game in 1994, when Dan “The Man” Marino fooled the Jets.

 

With the win, the Dolphins move to 3-2, tied for second in the AFC East. The New Yorkers (Jets) come into Miami on Sunday, having defeated the Fins just three weeks prior.

 

The Heat begin their season on Wednesday, not sure if the excitement level is a 1 or 2 for Miami fans. Also, the Marlins haven’t made the playoffs since 2003.

 

 

Sunday Scaries: Aaron Judge, the giant is toppling over

Everyone is well aware that the Yankees are down 0-2 in the ALCS, and whether its time to push the panic button yet or not, I’m not sure. However, there is one giant (literally) reason to push the button, and that is Aaron Judge.

 

For all us Yankee fans, we know the real Aaron Judge, instead of the one that ESPN shows and raves about when he hits a solo home run in a 10-1 New York blowout. Yes, he had a miraculous regular season, powering the lineup with 52 home runs, giving a rebirth to the Bronx Bombers.

 

Sadly, with the home runs also came 208 strikeouts, tied for sixth most all time for strikeouts in a season.

 

Fast forward to the playoffs, Judge did go yard against the Twins in the play-in game. Against the Indians, Judge struggled, and that’s being very kind. In the five game series, the 25 year old went 1-20 at the plate, while also striking out 16 times, a record for a playoff series. His lone hit came in Game 4 of the series.

 

So far in the ALCS against Houston, Judge has continued to struggle, starting off the series 1-7, with already three strikeouts. While his poor at bats weren’t enough to stop his Yankees come back against the Indians, the Astros are a different story.

 

And while Judge is going through his own tough October, the Yankees other power hitter, Gary Sanchez is experiencing a slumpish series of his own. Sanchez, who belted out 33 home runs of his own during the regular season, has started out this ALCS even worse than Judge, going 0-7 at the bat through the first two games, striking out five times.

 

Though he struggled against Cleveland in the ALDS, going 4-23 at the plate, Sanchez hit two home runs in the series.

 

With the series shifting back to the Bronx on Monday night, the Yankees are facing another 0-2 deficit in this best-of-seven ALCS. History is against New York however, as the team has never come back from being down 0-2 in a championship series.

 

 

The U is back, or is it?

In case you’re completely oblivious to the college football world and what happened on Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes defeated FSU 24-20 in a thriller. It was the Canes first win against the Noles in seven years, and Hurricane nation is alive and well right now.

 

With Miami at number 10 in several polls, and with the phenomena of the “turnover chain” seen across the Hurricanes sidelines, every college football fan is talking about the program.

 

Miami is a program that is very similar to Texas and USC, those schools that were so dominant when we were growing up, and have fallen off in recent years. Being a Hurricane fan all my life, I can say that the last time Miami had been thought of as a real contender in college was the beginning of 2006. Since then, its been a rough decade.

 

However, since that time, every year or two, Miami will get off to a hot start, grab a big win, and some will say that the “U” is back. I’ve heard so many times that the U is back, that now when people say it, its just indication that Miami hasn’t fallen quite off the map yet, due to the fact that everytime someone dubs that they’re back, something catastrophic happens.

 

2007:  This was the first year of the Randy Shannon era, and Shannon had predicted the Canes to win the ACC. Things got off to a good start, and after five games, Miami found themselves sitting pretty at 4-1, and atop their division in the conference. This start was highlighted by a big win in the old OB (Orange Bowl) against then number 16 in the country Texas A&M. I was at that game, and it felt great to defeat a nationally ranked team at home, and Miami was buzzin. The next day on ESPN, the talk was that the U was back, and they had a real shot at finishing in the top 10 that year. What happened next? The wheels completely fell off. After that victory, the Canes won just two of their last eight games, including a 48-0 shellacking to Virginia in what was the last game ever played in the OB. They finished the year 5-7, not making a bowl game for the first time since 1997.

 

2009: This was an interesting year, because the Hurricanes had such a rough schedule at the beginning of the season, that many experts predicted Miami to start off 0-4.  Wins against FSU, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma, all ranked teams had the Canes at 3-1, and then two more wins put them at 5-1, and ranked ninth in the country. With a trip to the ACC championship and a possible Orange Bowl very much within reach, the Canes would go on to lose two games of their next four, both to conference foes, both to non-ranked teams. Though they reached the Citrus Bowl, Miami would fall to Wisconsin, ending the season with a 21 ranking.

 

2010: After a 9-4 record the year prior in 2009, and returning most starters, the Canes entered the year ranked 13th, and many believed that this would finally be the year to make it to the ACC championship. A blowout loss at home to FSU, road loss at unranked Virginia, another home loss to Virginia Tech, and finally a loss to lowly USF had the Canes out of the top 25. To finish the year, Miami fell to Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl, finishing with a 7-6 year.

 

2013: Coming into the year, most thought that if the Canes, could squeeze out seven or eight wins, that’d be a good job. Under third year head coach Al Golden, Miami sprinted to a 7-0 start, their best in years, highlighted by a win over rival Florida. With all the momentum in the world, Miami faltered against FSU, followed by two losses after that. Miami started with seven straight wins, then followed by losing four of their last six, including their bowl loss, ending at 9-4.

 

I’m not saying that this could potentially be a great year for the U, because I know how much they need it, for recruiting, state pride, fan support, etc. With monumental conference games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech looming, this will really be a test whether or not Miami reaches their first ACC championship game, and if the U really is back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rivalry Week Is Here Again, Must Win for Canes

Here are the facts, FSU is 1-2 in 2017, Miami is 3-0. Miami is coming off an impressive 31-6 victory over previously undefeated Duke, and FSU just barely squeaked Wake Forest 26-19. FSU is playing without their starting quarterback, while Miami has their All-American caliber receiver back and also their star running back is cleared to play. FSU is out of the top 25 since 2011, and Miami is coming in ranked 12th in the coaches poll.

 

Here’s another fact, Miami hasn’t beaten FSU since 2009.

 

Ah yes, its that glorious time of the year again, rivalry week. While its been seven years since the Canes have downed their rivals to the north, there is still no other week quite like this. Whether you reside down south in Dade or Broward County, or you’re in enemy territory up in Leon, perhaps you’re even across country, those who bleed orange and green realize the importance of this game.

 

When Miami and the Noles kickoff on Saturday in Tallahassee, it will be 364 days since FSU stunned the Canes in last year’s meeting, when they came out of Hard Rock Stadium with a 20-19 victory, extending the Seminoles winning streak to seven.

 

It was in Tallahassee the last time Miami won this rivalry game. The score was 38-34, and it was one of the most memorable games in rivalry history. During that win, Canes quarterback Malik Rosier was still in middle school.

 

Even though FSU comes into the game with a 1-2 record, Miami aren’t taking the Noles lightly. “It’s Miami-Florida State. It’s going to be a great game. There’s going to be a lot attention on this game, but we’ve got to come out and treat it like  a regular game, and know we’re playing for not only each other, but the alumni. It’s a big game,” said linebacker Michael Pinckey to the Palm Beach Post.

When the season began, it looked as if it would be another sure win for the Seminoles, as they entered 2017 ranked third in the country. However, after a loss to Alabama, an injury to quarterback Deondre Francois, Hurricane Irma, and then a home loss to NC State, FSU is staring down a possible 1-3 start. Even so, Florida State fans shouldn’t start freaking out just yet. After five games in 2016, the Noles were 3-2 heading into a matchup against undefeated Miami. After that win, FSU rattled off seven wins in eight games to finish the season, including a victory over Michigan in the Orange Bowl. If Seminole fans want even better news, the last time they began the year 0-2 was in 1989. How did that year end? With ten straight wins, a Fiesta Bowl victory and a number three ranking.

Down south, Hurricane country is on the rise. Second year head coach Mark Richt definitely has this program headed in the right direction. Nine wins and a bowl victory in his first season has Cane fans buzzed, but not ready to be cocky. Besides, if you look at the University of Miami and what the football team has accomplished since their last victory over FSU in 2009, its down right pathetic. Miami has a 60-41 record since last defeating the Seminoles, one bowl win and zero conference championships. To make matters worse, the Hurricanes haven’t even played in an ACC championship game since joining the conference in 2004.

To be short and frank regarding the state of Miami and what this weekend means, it is a must win for the Canes. The next step in the progression for the program is in fact to defeat their enemies in Tallahassee.

 

College football is better when these two teams are good, and even more so when this is a competitive rivalry. So to all of the Canes fans out there, and really Noles fan as well, make the U with your hands all week long, and play your Tomahawk chant until the sound dies, happy rivalry week to all.