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Miami Hurricanes Football Best of 2013: Best Game 9/7/2013 Vs Florida

SOTU takes a look back at the best performers and moments of last season. Today we kick off with the best game of season, the week 2 match-up Vs the Florida Gators

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Although UF would suffer numerous devastating injuries and go on to have a sub par season, they came into the contest ranked #12 in the nation.

It was a game fans of both programs had anticipated for months

As the game neared, the excitement and animosity was palpable.  The Amigo explained to us why we hate "the Gator" and social media was not a friendly place between fans or blogs.

We can only imagine what was felt in the opposing locker rooms.

When the game finally started, there was no drop off in intensity.

UF got the ball first and wasted no time moving the ball behind Jeff Driskel.  But Miami got a huge hit from Denzel Perryman to force a fumble and the first of many Florida turnovers on the day.

The crowd was in a frenzy.

Miami's offense would then put together its best drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead the culminated with a perfect strike from Stephen Morris to Herb Waters.

The Gators would respond and continue to execute between the 20s, mostly via zone read plays that attacked the perimeter.  When they tried to run the ball inside, however, they were met time and time again by a very physical and pumped up UM front 7.

At the point of attack the Canes were as were as stout in this game then at any point the remainder of the season (a fact that still has many Hurricanes fans scratching their heads).

A Pat O'Donnell punt would be blocked by Louchiez Purifoy setting up UF deep in Miami territory. Driskel would capitalize with an easy TD run, but Florida would fake the PAT and get stopped on a nice play by AJ Highsmith, leaving UM in front 7-6.

The Hurricanes next drive was perhaps the most important of the game.  Right around midfield Morris would play fake to Duke Johnson, and launch a perfectly thrown bomb to Phillip Dorsett for a 14-6 lead.

It was the kind of throw that had Morris being mentioned early on as one of the better QBs in the nation, and a future NFL draft pick.  Ya know,  Before the gimpy ankle and choppy play.

The Gators would again drive, this time to be thwarted by a beautiful pick by Rayshawn Jenkins. On the play Driskel was pressured heavily by Anthony Chickillo.

With the first half winding down, Florida would threaten one more time.  But the resilient UM D would have the answer, this time Shayon Green would blast the UF QB on 4th and 1 from the Miami 16.

UM's D while giving up yards, would make a season's worth of big plays to hold onto the lead in this one.

In the second half, Miami's offense would really struggle to move the ball. But the defense remained resilient and gutsy and held onto the lead.

Perryman, Green, and Chickillo were all over the field.

The Gators would manage a 33 yard FG from Austin Hardin to cut the lead to 14-9.

Tracy Howard would get his first INT on the season deep in UM territory to keep Miami in front.

With 5 minutes to go in the game, UF has the ball and a chance.  Driskel dropped back and scanned the field before being blasted on his blind side by Tyriq McCord.  The ball popped free and McCord would pounce on it to give Miami the ball back inside the UF 20.

Early in the season McCord was a difference maker on what was an improved D. Whether injury of fatigue set in, UM was not the same when his production ceased. A big key for 2014 will be getting the kind of signature plays McCord produced in the early part of the 2013.

3 plays later Duke Johnson scampered left for an easy 2 yard run and finally, finally the light at the end of a long tunnel was in sight.  Miami lead 21-9 despite almost no offensive success since the first quarter.

Florida would add a garbage time TD to make the score a bit closer.

But the story of this game was Miami's defense.

It was opportunistic, gritty, hard hitting, TOUGH.  While yards were gained, the effort was never in question.

At the time this appeared to be the signature win that Miami needed to vault back into the National Spotlight. UM would eventually rise all the way to #7 in the polls behind a 7-0 start.   From there injuries set in and weaknesses were exposed.  But at the time this game gave Hurricanes faithful a lot of hope, and this remains a game they won't soon forget.

For this reason, Miami's 21-16 win over Florida is SOTU's 2013 Game of the Year.

Highlights (ACC Digital):

For those who want to watch the game in its entirety (Hurricanes Flash Forward):