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.