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Flashback Friday - Games We Love: Miami 41, Florida 16; 9/7/02

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As we endure the long summer while waiting for the start of football season, State of the U will look back each Friday on a great game in Hurricane football history to get us pumped for the season. This week, we re-visit Miami's steamrolling of the Gators at Florida Field in 2002. If there's a game you want us to re-visit, please feel free to include your request in the comments below.

Johnson caught one of Dorsey's four touchdown passes against Florida.
Johnson caught one of Dorsey's four touchdown passes against Florida.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As he sprinted towards the end zone opposite where I was sitting, my sense of impending doom melted away with each foot step in the warm September afternoon at Florida Field. By the time he reached the end zone and placed the ball on the turf just across the goal line, the orange and green faithful were jumping up and down their respective sections in Florida Field. The scoreboard read "Miami 33, Florida 16." The Gators were sunk, and #1 Miami would continue its dominance over Florida – and, at that time, the country – in the midst of a 34-game winning streak.

Maurice Sikes, who’d lived in the shadow of all-time Miami great Ed Reed, had his statement game. And his statement moment.

Sikes nicked up his shoulder earlier in the game on a hit on Florida tailback Earnest Graham, yet he stayed in the game and fought through the pain to help hold Florida’s defense to 16 points in Ron Zook’s first true test as Florida’s head coach.

But, with his shoulder aching and Florida’s Rex Grossman driving the Gators deep into Miami territory, Sikes stole the ball, the game, and the show.

Grossman dropped back from the Miami 7-yard line, found his receiver, and released the football. The ball floated towards the Canes’ goal line and in the direction of Gator wide receiver Carlos Perez streaking into the end zone. The only thing in his way were the hands of Sikes. As the ball approached, he grimaced and raised both arms as high as he could skyward.

Miami bliss, Gator misery ensued. Sikes weaved through the Florida offense 97 yards for the game-clinching score. It was a carryover effect from a 2001 Miami defense that allowed only 13 touchdowns all year, while scoring eight (!!!!!!!!!).

While Sikes provided the highlights, Ken Dorsey, Andre Johnson, Jason Geathers, and Willis McGahee rag-dolled an overmatched Florida defense. In fact, the entire Miami offense bludgeoned the Florida defense, rolling up over 500 yards of total offense. 306 came on the ground, with McGahee grinding for 204 of those yards in what would become a breakout year for the Canes’ all-time single-season rushing record holder.

Dorsey completed only 16 of 32 passes for 202 yards and threw 3 interceptions. However, 4 touchdown passes made that stat line easy to forget, with two coming two Geathers – including the 19-yard strike in the fourth quarter that put the cherry on top of the blowout.

After Vince Wilfork mauled Grossman – one of six sacks of the game for the Canes’ defense – he chomped the crowd in celebration. The 15-yard penalty didn’t matter, and there weren’t that many fans left to see it anyways. The Canes’ defense showed its domination from 2001 would continue for 2002 opponents. Grossman completed only 19 of 45 passes for the game.

While the 2002 season would end with controversy and heartbreak for the Hurricanes, this game was a celebration of all that was good with Miami football during its 2000-2002 thrilling run that none of us will soon forget.

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Go Canes.