Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Hurricanes Fan's Perspective on UM-UF

The big day is fast approaching. I've been circling this date on my life calendar since the Canes last met the Gators in the 2004 Peach Bowl. The rivalry resumes in Gainesville. Although I am a graduate of both schools, there's no real struggle here - I've been a Hurricanes fan all of my life. I love the Gators, have several Gator shirts and other assorted memorabilia, and am a proud member of the UF Alumni Association. But I'm studiously avoiding all of those items strewn around my apartment as the day approaches. I grew up on Gino Torretta, Lamar Thomas, Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp, the Rock, Tremain Mack, Ryan Clement, Danyell Ferguson, Dan Morgan, Reggie Wayne, and Santana Moss.

Miami has the series lead at 28-25, including claiming victory the last 6 times the teams have faced. Yet I've never as a Canes fan felt more David to another team's Goliath. When was the last time the Canes were 3 TD underdogs? Nary a commentator has given Miami the slightest chance to prevail on Saturday in Gainesville. The deck, to be sure, is stacked against a UM victory - the abysmal 2007 season, a freshman QB that's never taken a college snap, playing 18 freshmen in last week's romp against Charleston Southern, going up against the reigning Heisman trophy winner, the #5 team in the country, and a team just 2 years removed from the most recent championship. Taking off the orange-and-green glasses, and applying strict rationality to the upcoming game, my head gives the Canes no chance at all.

But my heart says otherwise. Kirk Herbstreit likes to say that college football is a game of emotion, and that is one reason that the Canes do have a chance on Saturday. For all of their inexperience, the Canes may be too young and dumb to know that they are statistical longshots to win on Saturday. The freshmen who played last week were carefully picked by Coach Randy Shannon for their old-school, tough-as-nails approach to the game. In fact, one of the glaring things about the 2008 newcomers is that they've already taken leadership roles on this team. Guys like Jacory Harris, Marcus Forston, Sean Spence, Jordan Futch, Brandon Harris have been supplanting many of the upperclassmen as vocal leaders. They were winners in high school - the first three haven't tasted defeat in 3 years - and they will not accept a repeat of the Hurricanes' 2007 season on their watch.

Crazy things happen in college football. See Appalachian State over Michigan and Stanford over USC in 2007. See East Carolina over Virginia Tech and UCLA over Tennessee in 2008. The game increasingly does not go as scripted as parity takes over the college football landscape. Moreover, there is a very real chance that the Gators, knowing their strategic advantages, are not taking the Canes too seriously. Chris Rainey recently said that both FSU and UM suck. Louis Murphy actually went as far as to suggest that Florida is the real "U" (his comment was funny because it was based on how many championships the Gators have won; someone should advise him that the current count is Miami 5, Florida 2, thank you). With success comes pride, and excessive pride can lead to cockiness (the pride cometh before the fall, I hear). I'm not saying the Gators as a whole are cocky, or that that would even make a difference - just that some of their players' comments indicate as much. The Canes have been offered prime bulletin board material. We'll see if they can harness their rage into a colossal upset on Saturday.

So, the two in-state rivals resume their dance on Saturday. The Gators have all of the talent in the country on their side. The Canes will play the inspired underdog. U ready?


Christian said...

I'm ready. I predict that the Canes stun the Gators, catch them off guard, and never look back. My prediction:
Miami- 34
Florida- 17

Stanley C. said...

You think Florida can only score 17 against the U... my preview is coming... don't U worry