Thursday, October 7

10 Years Ago A Ball Sailed Right

Ten years ago today, one of college football's greatest rivalries added another epic chapter. I had the pleasure of being there on that hot Miami day in October 2000. I saw a lot of great games in the Old Orange Bowl; I saw wide rights and lefts, Kellen Winslow sky what seemed like 20 feet for a 4th and 11 pass, a comeback after being down 33-10 to Florida, Devin Hester being ridiculous, and so on. The game in 2000 though is still my all-time favorite.

Miami had climbed out of probation and was again fully stocked with NFL talent. Florida State was the number one team in the country. There were a lot seniors like Dan Morgan and Santana Moss that had suffered a 47-0 defeat a few years earlier at the hands of the Seminoles. The Orange Bowl was packed, the place was electric. One of the great things about the OB being an incredibly old stadium, along with all the bad things, was that the stadium would literally shake when a full house went crazy. I don't think I ever have heard a crowd as loud as when Jeremy Shockey caught the go-ahead TD pass from Ken Dorsey with 46 seconds left.

This weekend the rivalry again is renewed. Now not as much is on the line as 2000. Miami got the royal screwjob by the BCS computers and missed out on the national title game even though Florida State was behind them in the polls. Both teams have shown flashes of brilliance but fell short against top ten teams on the road. They do not play in the same division of the ACC but a win on Saturday gives them a big step forward in securing a place in the ACC title game. The key to the game will be Miami's defense, their D-line in particular, against Seminole QB Christian Ponder. Miami's defense has been revitalized on the strength of a punishing and deep D-line. Ponder has been a Cane killer so far in his career. He has gone for over 300 yards in his two games against Miami. Rick Petri, the returning Miami D-line coach has Miami turning up the pressure with the front four and making tackles in the backfield. With Miami once again getting pressure, it has lead to some turnovers which they have not been getting in the last few seasons. There is one catch though, Ponder can move around and scramble just like Pryor from Ohio State. If Miami hopes to keep the Florida State offense contained they must tackle Ponder before he scrambles away to make a throw or run upfield. It should be another great chapter in the history of these two schools and thankfully it has the Saturday night spotlight.