Heading into the season opener for the entire college football season, the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators are a big time rivalry game being played on a national stage. ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Central Florida, at Walt Disney World and the game itself will be played in downtown Orlando in Camping World Stadium. August 24th is a big deal because it starts the Manny Diaz era in Miami, and gives the ‘Canes fans their first look at quarterback Jarren Williams as “the guy.”
However, this isn’t just another in-state matchup. Sure, the Florida State Seminoles are Miami’s most recognized rival but the original rivalry in the state of Florida is that of the ‘Canes and Florida Gators. The Hurricanes currently lead the series 29-26, but from 1971-1977, Florida ran off 7-consecutive victories over the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes and Gators first met on October 15th of 1938 with Miami winning 19-7. There are a few hated moments in the Miami-Florida rivalry, which was once played for the Seminole War Canoe trophy. Of course- in 1971 you had the “Gator Flop.” The flop took place in 1971 as Florida QB John Reaves needed a few more yards to break Jim Plunkett’s all-time yardage record. The Gator defense fell to the floor allowing Miami to score, Reaves threw a 14-yard pass that broke the record, and the coaches didn’t shake hands.
In 1980, Howard Schnellenberger kicked a late field goal to end the game with Miami winning 31-7. Schnellenberger famously answered reporters that, “I did that because I wanted the press to come and ask me why I kicked the field goal.” Gators fan were pelting Miami players with oranges, another reason to hate the Gator.
ESPN’s first ever live college football game? Miami versus Florida in Tampa, FL in 1984. The Hurricanes came from behind to beat the Gators 32-20. Miami suffered tough losses to the Gators in 1983 and 1985, but neither loss stopped Miami from playing for a national championship, not matter how many annoying Gator fans bring it up.
Najeh Davenport and Sebastian The Ibis pic.twitter.com/wxuTrNOia0— Beat UF (@hurricanesmarsh) June 12, 2019
The final game in the annual rivalry was 1987. Miami dominated Florida 31-4 (yes 4, the ‘Canes gave up two safeties) and the two programs waited until the Sugar Bowl on January 2nd, 2001 to face off again. This time Miami won again, 37-20 with a dominant performance by sophomore quarterback Ken Dorsey. Heading into the Sugar Bowl there was a Bourbon Street Brawl, and oh yeah- Miami won that, too.
In 2003, the rivalry took a new twist. Former Gator quarterback Brock Berlin transferred to Miami and sat out the 2002 season. He was the obvious starter heading into 2003 but came out slow against his former team. Down 33-10 Brock Berlin went to work. Miami roared back to a 38-33 victory putting Brock Berlin in a special place in ‘Canes hearts, even if he was a Gator first.
Then in 2008, Urban Meyer reminded us why Hurricanes fans hate the Gator once again. Already holding onto a 23-3 lead with 25 seconds left in the game, Meyer chose to kick a field goal which the Gators made. This put Florida up 26-3 beating the 22-point point spread in Las Vegas and didn’t endear then ‘Canes head coach Randy Shannon to Meyer.
But it isn’t just the football games themselves, it’s the attendance dorks in Gainesville who brag about how many people cram into The Swamp in a “city” where all there is to do is watch Gators football. It’s the ego of guys like Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier. It’s the punk former quarterback Rex Grossman bragging about his stats while forgetting stats are for losers. It’s everything about the Gators, the SEC, and the school backing out of playing Miami in 1987, it’s the jorts- really, it’s everything.
Hopefully, amidst the cultural debacle that’s going on in Gainesville, FL this off-season, Manny Diaz can stick it to the unethical Dan Mullen and keep the winning streak alive. Don’t forget, Miami beat Florida 21-16 back in 2013 to put the ‘Canes back on top after the 2008 loss. Before that Miami had won six straight games against the Gator.