I have a confession to make: I don’t hate the Miami Hurricanes football team. I just don’t.
The game this weekend has more meaning than just a game to some people, but not me. I was born in 1985, coincidentally the last time Florida beat Miami, and the two school have played only four games that I can remember to any degree.
One was the Sugar Bowl after the 2000 season when Miami simply had the better team. That was also the case in 2002. I was at the 2003 game at the old Orange Bowl, and it was the worst of all the Zookian collapses. I was at the 2004 Peach Bowl too, and neither team played like it wanted to be there. It was the worst-played college football game I’ve ever attended.
When it comes down to it, for most of my life Miami has been to me like Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, or any other national power that Florida doesn’t play regularly. That applies even with the three losses in the Zook era. I mean, it was the Zook era; I don’t harbor deep feelings about Ole Miss, why would I about Miami?
I grew up in Orlando, a city that is roughly split evenly between Gators and Seminoles. Miami fans are rare, so I didn’t hear any of them pumping up their team and getting me all annoyed.
That changed after I got to college. I met some Miami fans who attended UF and refused to become Gators. I saw random Miami fans show up at Florida games, and often they spent the time looking proud of wearing Miami stuff instead of watching the game. I began to learn about the relentless yet often misplaced bravado they usually exude.
The end result is that I just can’t stand Miami fans, but their team still doesn’t arouse the same reaction in me that FSU, Tennessee, and Georgia do. I don’t know that it ever will since Florida won’t play the Hurricanes often enough to get there.
As for the game tomorrow, it appears to be similar to the 2002 game only with the roles reversed. Florida is the national power hunting for a championship and Miami is the team hoping to be good. Miami is a lot younger than UF was in ’02, so it’s not a perfect comparison, but I expect Florida to win by a similar margin and score.
When the teams meet again in 2013, it should be a great game. This one will be uncomfortably close for a while, but the vast difference in depth of talent should let Florida pull away in the second half. There’s no way Miami has the offensive talent to keep up with the Gator offense.