– How long has it been?
You could say a
while. The Internet was around but Facebook, Twitter and iPhones were not.
When the Gators and
Hurricanes kick off at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, it will be the first time Florida
has played a road game at Miami since 2003, a heartbreaking 38-33 loss in which
a 23-point lead evaporated on a muggy night at the old Orange Bowl.
Ah, the Orange Bowl,
a relic of the past.
The shiny new home
of the Miami Marlins now sits on the site where the Gators last defeated the
Hurricanes at home 28 years ago.
In fact, this
storied rivalry appears in danger of going the way of the Orange Bowl. There
are currently no talks between the schools about continuing a series born in
If the rivalry is
truly dead, the final edition has the ingredients to be a memorable one.
Both teams enter
Saturday's sold-out showdown coming off wins in their season openers. The
Gators defeated Toledo to win their 24th consecutive opener, the second-longest
streak in the nation behind Nebraska's 28-game streak.
opened with a 34-6 victory over Florida Atlantic to debut head coach Al
Golden's third season in Coral Gables.
Florida coach Will
Muschamp, like Golden, is in his third season at UF. The Gators finished
7-6 in his first season while Miami went 6-6 under Golden in 2011.
Last season both
programs improved, Florida earning a Sugar Bowl berth to finish 11-2. The
Hurricanes finished 7-5.
Some say the Gators
are back. Some say the Hurricanes are on the verge of being back.
Muschamp doesn't see
it that way.
"I donít know
that anybodyís 'back,' '' he said. "I think Al would say the same
Fortunately, on what
is expected to be a hot and humid South Florida Saturday afternoon, the
Gators-Canes rivalry is "back" for a 55th, and for now, final show.
After meeting every
year from 1938 to 1987 -- except for 1946 when soldiers were returning from
World War II and Florida opted not to field a team -- the Gators and Hurricanes
have met five times since. Two of those meetings came in bowl games.
Miami won four in a
row until the Gators defeated the Canes at The Swamp in 2008 on their way to a
third national championship.
Let's take a look at
Saturday's matchup with The Opening Kickoff:
Five Storylines to
- Florida sophomore
running back Matt Jones returns after missing all of fall camp due
to a viral infection. It will be interesting to see how the Gators use
Jones and Mack Brown, who rushed for a career-high 112 yards and
two touchdowns in the opener.
offensive coordinator Brent Pease heard the critics who called the
play calling "vanilla" against Toledo. Pease said he judges
success in wins rather than yards. If the Gators win Saturday, will the
critics get where Pease is coming from?
- Miami sophomore
running back Duke Johnson has five 50-yard runs in his short
career. The Gators have allowed only two 50-yard runs in the past 10
years. Can they keep Johnson from getting loose?
- There is going
to be a lot of emotion on the field Saturday. Many of the players were
teammates in high school or played against one another. The officials will
be keep a close eye on this one, so staying composed and away from costly
penalties is critical.
- The Gators went
to Texas A&M last season in the second game and won, a huge shot of
confidence that led to a 7-0 start. A victory on the road against the
Canes would provide a similar early season boost.
Cast of Characters
defense gets a boost with the return of cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy,
linebacker Antonio Morrison and defensive tackle Darious
Cummings. The trio was suspended for the season opener and adds more
depth to an already deep unit.
- Florida linebacker
Michael Taylor started in place of Morrison in the opener and
remains atop the depth chart. Taylor made a good impression and both
players will get plenty of reps Saturday. "Mike is about what we're
about here, and that's hard work and blue-collar tough, physical,''
defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said.
- Gators nose
tackle Leon Orr had four tackles and a sack in his first career
start last week. Durkin said Orr, a redshirt junior, is playing his best
football since joining the program.
- Hurricanes junior
linebacker Denzel Perryman, a cousin of Gators receiver Quinton
Dunbar, is effective against the run and pass. He led Miami with six
tackles and two pass breakups against FAU.
- Former Florida
State offensive coordinator James Coley moved home to Miami in the
offseason to run the Hurricanes' offense.
The Quote File
- "You gotta
keep your composure. Itís going to be an emotional game anytime you play a
rival or play somebody you know a lot about, certainly you need to make
sure you keep your composure within the game and play through the
situations." -- Muschamp on facing the Hurricanes in Miami
is a big part of our secondary and our chemistry. Having him back for this
game is really big, especially with the weapons they have." -- Gators
safety Cody Riggs on return of junior cornerback Purifoy
- "He has a
lot of arm talent. He knows their offense very well. He knows how to read
defenses. He's a great quarterback. We're looking forward to the
challenge." -- Gators safety Marcus Maye on Miami quarterback Stephen
- "I went up
to him in the locker room and said, 'you know what? Just be patient. I'm
going to do a better job of getting some things designed [for you].' He
goes, 'Coach, I had fun and we won.' That's the kind of kid he is."
-- Pease on freshman receiver Demarcus Robinson
big, physical up front. Itís a great defense. They play a lot of guys.
Itís a great challenge for our offense -- our offensive line, our tight
ends, our fullback. But itís a great opportunity." -- Golden on
definitely going to be going after that in this game. I put it on film
that I put the ball on the ground.'' Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel
on his two fumbles against Toledo
10 Quick Hitters
- The Gators'
last win at Miami was a 35-23 victory in 1985. Miami didn't lose at home
again until a loss to Washington in 1994, snapping its NCAA-record 58-game
home win streak.
- Florida is
14-13 all-time at Miami; this is the first time the teams have met at Sun
Life Stadium, where the Hurricanes moved permanently starting with the
2008 season. Miami is 21-11 at home since the move to SLS.
- The game is a
sellout and Miami is urging fans to wear white as part of an official
whiteout. Meanwhile, Muschamp announced Thursday night the Gators will
wear all-white uniforms Saturday.
- Miami has added
an additional 1,300 seats to SLS for the game. The extra seats bring
capacity to around 77,000, which would be a Miami attendance record since
moving to the home of the Miami Dolphins.
- In its last 16
games, the only time an opponent has rushed for 100 yards against the
Gators is Georgia's Todd Gurley in the eighth game of last season.
- Miami gained
503 yards against FAU, marking the first time since 2002 the Hurricanes
eclipsed 500 yards in a season opener. Dating back to the final two games
of last season, Miami has surpassed 500 yards of total offense in three
- The Hurricanes
return 19 starters -- 10 on offense and nine defensive starters.
- Morris needs
201 yards passing to pass former UM quarterback Jim Kelly and move
into 10th place on the school's career passing-yards list.
- Muschamp and
Golden are both former defensive coordinators and in their third seasons.
Muschamp is 19-8 and Golden is 14-11 at Miami, 41-45 overall as a head
- Dunbar had two
receptions for 22 yards against Toledo and has caught at least one pass in
17 consecutive games.
The Bottom Line
The Gators defense
was dominant in the season-opening win over Toledo. Add Morrison, Purifoy and
Cummings to the mix, and Durkin has a fully stocked roster.
offense is expected to mix it up more than in Week 1 -- Florida ran 48 times
and passed 22 against Toledo -- this is a Gators program built on defense. How
well they slow down Morris and Co. will likely determine the outcome in this