Another stellar senior class has culminated its football careers at UM.
They graduated with an overall record of 46-4 over the past four seasons, including five victories over FSU, three wins over Florida, and invitations to all four BCS bowls. This four-year run will be one to remember for ages.
Instead of dwelling on what should or could have been, the last four years of Miami football have been a great success for a program that Sports Illustrated in 1995 said should “drop football” all together. Hail to Mr. Butch Davis for saving this program, and bringing it back to national prominence.
First and foremost, after losing to arch state rival Florida State five seasons in a row from 1995-99, the ‘Canes have defeated the Seminoles the last four seasons and twice this past season with the 16-14 Orange Bowl victory. History was made in every contest.
“We don’t bow down to FSU,” past linebacker and New Your Jets draft Jonathon Vilma said after the Orange Bowl victory. “They better put this on my grave, that I was on the UM team that beat FSU five times in a row.”
Here is a quick look back at the five consecutive UM victories over FSU.
The ‘Canes’ 27-24 victory over FSU in 2000 ended the Seminoles streak over UM, and brought back the old Miami swagger. Ken Dorsey and Jeremy Shockey had breakout games, and history was made again when FSU’s Matt Munyon’s 49-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right as time expired.
It was followed by Miami’s 49-27 victory over FSU in 2001. The ‘Canes ended FSU’s 54-game home unbeaten streak and handed the ‘Noles their second loss of the season, putting them out of the National Championship hunt.
In 2002 it came down to another missed FSU field goal attempt, as Miami slipped passed the ‘Noles 28-27 after Xavier Beitia pushed his game-winning attempt wide left as time expired.
This past season, Jarret Payton led the ‘Canes over FSU 22-14 with 97 rushing yards and a touchdown in his first career start.
As if four wins in four seasons over FSU were not enough for the senior class, the BCS matched up the two rivals once again in January’s Fed Ex Orange bowl.
Jon Peattie made three field goals, the game winner being a career long 51 yards and Beitia pushed a 39-yard attempt wide right with 5:30 left in the game.
“We’ve got something on their kicker,” Vilma said. “I don’t know what it is, but I’m glad we got it.”
Another linebacker from last season and Denver Broncos draft D.J. Williams added, “It feels great to beat anyone, but it’s especially sweet to beat your biggest rival. Maybe it’s a mystique, some kind of a curse. I know it’s always in the back of their kicker’s mind.”
“There isn’t anything like beating your rivals five times in a row,” said past defensive back Alfonso Marshall, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears. “I can hold my head up high and have bragging rights for the rest of my life…this Orange Bowl victory is just so important for Miami.”
Just when college football fans think the only goal is to win the National Championship, we must not forget the importance of beating your rivals and holding bragging rights over them.
“I never lost an in-state game…we beat FSU, Florida, and FAMU,” said last years safety Maurice Sikes. “This senior class gets to say we beat FSU five times. That is something very special. What a remarkable feat.” I