The Miami Hurricanes get the privilege of playing the No. 12 Florida Gators this weekend, a game that will be played in Miami with a noon kickoff. Why is it a privilege, you might ask? The answer is because it is an opportunity for Al Golden‘s squad to show how much they have improved in the past few seasons despite an NCAA investigation looming over their heads.
Golden has done a good job of getting talent to go to Miami, and this weekend is a great opportunity for the Hurricanes to test that talent against the Gators. These two teams have not met since 2008, a game in which Florida won relatively easily behind All-everything quarterback Tim Tebow.
The Gators and the Hurricanes used to play every year, but as of the past 15-20 years, they have only met sparingly. Miami is led by their quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson, and are coming of an easy home win last week against Florida Atlantic.
Johnson was the star of their opener with 186 rushing yards on just 19 carries, giving him a 9.8 yards per carry. He is a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball, and is more than capable of catching the ball out of the backfield as well. Now let’s be honest, the Florida defense will put up more resistance than FAU’s, but that does not change the fact that Miami, who returned 18 starters from a year ago, has playmakers all over the field.
The Miami-Florida game is one of the best rivalries, and it is a shame that they do not play every year. In the early 2000s, these two teams waged some historic battles with the 2003 matchup being one of the best college football games I have ever seen. Devin Hester took the opening kick back for a touchdown to give the Canes an early lead, but midway through the third quarter the scoreboard read: Florida-33, Miami-10. What was to ensue over the next half would be nothing short of spectacular.
The Miami defense, led by Jonathon Vilma, D.J. Williams and Sean Taylor, shut down the Gator offense the rest of the way, which allowed their quarterback, Brock Berlin, to get just enough opportunities to lead his team back. Miami running back Frank Gore scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:44 left on the clock giving the Canes an incredible come from behind 38-33 win.
That game was a slugfest on every play, and I expect this one to be just as physical with stars making plays for both teams. I expect for Johnson to be able to run the ball, but Morris will have to be able to throw consistently in order for the Canes to have balance for the whole game.
The Gators are coming off a 24-6 win over Toledo in which their defense was suffocating for four quarters. Their defense is led by their top pass defender Loucheiz Purifoy, who I believe will be an All-American by the time this season is over. He had big games against top SEC teams a year ago and is ready for the big stage. The Gator offense still needs some work as Jeff Driskel still does not look completely comfortable throwing the ball from the pocket, but watch out for his legs because he can really move.
Clemson had a great opportunity last week against Georgia, and they capitalized by winning that game in shootout fashion. This game will not be as high scoring, but it will be just as intense and hard-hitting as the Clemson-UGA game. This is another chance for the ACC to prove that it is ready to compete and win consistently against the SEC’s best. Whatever the outcome, it is just good to see these two teams playing again.
Travis Patterson, Writer for the ACC on Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20.