Bragging rights will be at stake Saturday evening as the Miami Hurricanes (1-0) will travel to a hostile environment in Gainesville, Fla., to face the No. 5 Florida Gators (1-0) in one of the nation’s most anticipated games of the season.
The Hurricanes and the Gators will battle for the War Canoe Trophy, which has been in Miami’s possession since 1986.
Head coach Randy Shannon eyes the Florida game as an enormous stepping stone for his team.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to see where we are as a program,” Shannon said. “We’re playing against a team that is ranked in the top 5 and has a Heisman winning quarterback.”
Miami holds a slight edge in the all-time series with a 28-25 record against Florida. The Hurricanes have won the last six meetings between the two schools, dating back to 1986, including victories in the 2001 Sugar Bowl and the 2004 Peach Bowl. Florida hasn’t beaten the Canes since 1985.
This will be Miami’s first trip to The Swamp since 2002, when the Canes won 41-16.
The following year at the Orange Bowl, the Hurricanes came back from a 23-point deficit to defeat the Gators 38-33.
“There’s going to be plenty of hype,” Shannon said. “It’s going to be a big game for them. It’s going to be an exciting crowd. It’ll be a nationwide TV game, a state rivalry game. You can’t try to downplay that.”
Last week, Florida dismantled Hawaii, 56-10. Reigning Heisman winner Tim Tebow accounted for 174 yards of total offense.
The Canes are coming off a dominating season-opening win against Charleston Southern, 52-7. True freshman Jacory Harris used his calm and collected play to lead the way for the Hurricanes.
Following his one-game suspension, redshirt freshman quarterback Robert Marve will have make first collegiate start at The Swamp.
Still, Shannon has opined that the stadium will not affect Marve’s play.
“It’s a stadium,” Shannon said. “A stadium is a stadium. You can’t worry about the fans. Marve is ready.”
Miami will rely heavily on running backs Javarris James and Graig Cooper to relieve pressure from Marve and Harris. For this to happen, the offensive line and tight ends must be able to get a strong push on Florida’s front seven to give the running backs a chance to make an impact.
“We’re going to go there and play how we are supposed to play,” James said. “You’ve got to be ready for this game. Like we say, if you are not then stay home.”
Both defensive ends, Eric Moncur and Allen Bailey, will play their first game of the season this week against the Gators.
The key for the Canes defense is keeping Tebow contained. If Tebow is able to be two-dimensional then the Hurricanes will struggle.
It’s going to be a hard task,” freshman linebacker Sean Spence said. “Tebow is a great player. He didn’t win the Heisman for no reason. It will be an honor to play him.”
Despite being a 21-point underdog, the Hurricanes are confident that they will upset Florida this weekend.
“I’m here to help my team win,” Cooper said. “Florida is the big dog, so we are going to let them talk. We are going to go there and try to get this win.”