The Miami Hurricanes (2-0) blew into the top-25 with a 21-16 win over the then-no. 12 Florida Gators (1-1), notching another big victory for the ACC against the SEC. But honestly, if you watched the game, there is no reason to think Miami is the 15th-best team in college football.
Frankly, despite notching their biggest win in years, the Canes don’t even deserve to be ranked.
After quarterback Stephen Morris threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to put Miami ahead, it was Florida, not the Canes, that did everything it could to make sure his team stayed there. Though Miami racked up more than 140 yards of offense in the first quarter, it managed only 80 or so more the rest of the way – a performance hardly indicative of a top-15 team.
Miami did little to nothing until Duke Johnson’s touchdown with just over three minutes left in the game, giving the Canes a 21-9 lead. Even that score can’t be counted as much of an achievement, considering Miami started at the Florida four-yard line following a fumble.
There’s no doubt Florida’s defense is one of the best in college football, but a supposed top-15 team should be able to muster more what Miami accomplished Saturday. After the first quarter, Miami had a grand total of two drives in three quarters that gained more than one yard. For the game, Miami only gained 212 yards and 10 first downs.
Yet, pollsters feel this team should be in the top-15, much less ranked? The Hurricanes did make big plays when they needed to, but their production in the final three quarters just goes to show ultimately how little Miami did to win the game.
Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel completed 22 of 33 passes for a career-best 291 yards and a late touchdown, but he also had two interceptions, fumbled once and was stopped on a fourth-down try for another giveaway. It was all part, but certainly not all, of an extremely messy five-turnover effort by the Gators. Four of those turnovers came inside the Miami 20.
Sure, the Canes deserve some credit for the five Florida turnovers, especially the defensive front. Florida averaged just 2.8 yards per carry, Driskel was under near-constant pressure and Tyriq McCord‘s forced fumble was the key to securing the win. But Miami was not the better team – on Saturday or in the long run.
The Gators continuously marched down the field, controlling time of possession (38:20 to 21:40) and making themselves a permanent resident on the Canes’ side of the field; Florida ran 39 plays in Miami territory.
The only thing more constant than Florida’s presence there was its ability to sabotage scoring opportunities. Other than an early touchdown, set up by a blocked punt, Florida’s drives deep into Miami territory ended as follows: interception, turnover on downs, fumble, field goal, interception.
Overall, Florida was its own worst enemy, just ahead of Miami’s defensive line.
So the last chapter of this Sunshine State rivalry goes to the Hurricanes – deserved or not. Miami is now ranked No. 15, three spots ahead of the team that whipped it up and down the field in Week 2. And the Canes should remain there for a couple of weeks. Miami has a bye this week, followed by games against two teams that barely register a pulse – Savannah State and South Florida.
Florida, also off this week, is left to wonder what could have been. There is no shortage of coaching lessons for the Gators during the bye, and Florida will need to figure out how to get out of its own way before opening its SEC schedule against Tennessee Sept. 21. If the Gators don’t learn from their mistakes, this season could go downhill in a hurry.