Miami Hurricanes: Counting Down the 10 Best Wins of the Past Decade
While the Miami Hurricanes have not been the powerhouse we are accustomed to seeing in the last decade, that does not mean there have not been bright spots.
In the past, "best wins" usually meant Miami was winning a national title. While that is not the case with any of the wins in this slideshow, each one represented something special to a fanbase with insanely high expectations.
While some of them may not have the historical impact of wins accrued during this program's former glory years, they still have had some impact on the program and its fans.
Without further ado, a countdown of the 10 brightest moments of the past 10 years of Miami Hurricanes football.
10.) September 20, 2007 vs. Texas A&M (W, 34-17)
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This was a meaningless game during a 5-7 season but makes the list for one reason: it was the last time the Orange Bowl truly rocked.
The game took place on a Thursday night. After a few hours of tailgating the student section was well lubricated, and while the stadium might not have been full it definitely felt that way.
The Aggies came in ranked in the Top 25, lead by quarterback Stephen McGee and running backs Michael Goodson and Jovorskie Lane. Miami’s defense had shown weakness in the middle and most expected the Ags to roll.
This would not be the case.
Kyle Wright, Graig Cooper and the legendary receiver duo of Sam Shields and Darnell Jenkins staked Miami to a 31-0 lead and let the defense do the rest. Lane and Goodson combined for 30 yards on 11 carries. The crowd went nuts the entire game. No one went to class the next day.
And the smoking hot chick I asked out at halftime said yes.
9.) September 17, 2009 vs. Georgia Tech (W, 33-17)
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If the A&M game was the last time the Orange Bowl rocked, this was the first time Joe Robbie (yes, Joe Robbie) came alive for the ‘Canes.
Miami was riding a four-year losing streak against the Yellow Jackets, including the previous year’s nationally televised embarrassment in Atlanta in which the Jackets amassed over 500 yards of total offense. The main propagators of that beat down, quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer, were back for another season. The Jackets opened the season with a Top 10 ranking in some polls.
The scene unfolded on a late summer Thursday night. Miami was riding high after a nationally televised classic against FSU (more on that later) to open the season that spawned a lot of “Is Miami back?” discussions. The stage was set for a statement win or a huge letdown.
Miami fans were not disappointed.
It became evident early on that the Jackets would have a tough time running its triple option on the suddenly cagey Miami defense.
The Jackets were held to 95 yards rushing for the game, the ‘Canes ran out to a 24-3 lead early in the second half and the game was never in question. The atmosphere was electric, and Jacory Harris continued his early season tour de force by going 20-25 and throwing 3 touchdowns, including one to recently converted hoops star / fan favorite Jimmy Graham.
The ‘Canes not only beat the Jackets, but they beat them up, sending Dwyer out with a stinger and taking out an entire year of frustration on a team that looked slow in comparison to the swarming Miami defense.
Miami left his game 2-0 and, for the first time a long time, it felt like the old boss was back in town.
8.) October 20, 2007 at Florida State (W, 37-29)
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The Miami - Florida State series is filled with games that have nicknames. Wide Right. Wife Left. The Tsunami. During a lost 2007 season, the two rivals added another that will go down in history.
This was a sloppy game—featuring nine turnovers—but ended in fireworks as one unlikely hero forever etched his name in the Miami-FSU legend.
Miami backup quarterback Kirby Freeman had perhaps the only memorable moment of his career when he lead the ‘Canes down the field after getting the ball back, down 29-24, with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter.
The reported attendance was 82,728 at Doak Walker Stadium. At the 1:15 mark, Freeman threw a dart into the corner of the end zone as he was crushed by the blitzing Dekoda Watson . The ball nestled into the arms of tight end Dedrick Epps, giving Miami the lead. 82,728 people never shut up so quickly.
The ballgame was put out of reach seconds later when linebacker Colin McCarthy scooped up a fumble and returned it for another Miami touchdown.
As Freeman winced in pain on the sideline, a new iconic game was added to the roll call for this series: The Drive.
7.) January 1, 2004 vs. Florida State (W, 16-14)
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Miami and Florida State teed it up for the second time this season, and for the second time the ‘Canes prevailed.
The swan song for a swarming Miami defense, lead by Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma and Vince Wilfork, was a successful one as the Hurricanes beat the Seminoles for the first time in a bowl game.
Running back Jarret Payton lead the ‘Canes with 131 rushing yards, FSU kicker Xavier Beitia pushed a field goal wide right and the ‘Canes won a fifth straight in the series.
Everything was right in the universe.
6.) December 31, 2004 vs. Florida (W, 27-10)
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Another bowl game, another rival.
Miami dominated this game behind the explosive duo of Roscoe Parrish (punt return touchdown) and Devin Hester (punt block return touchdown and an interception) to send former Gator Brock Berlin out on a high note. Miami’s defense posted five sacks and two interceptions en route to forcing seven punts and dominating the field.
This game was never close, and while it was not a BCS Bowl, this was the next best thing.
5.) October 14, 2004 vs. Louisville (W, 41-38)
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This was one of the most exciting games to ever take place on the hallowed playing field of the Orange Bowl, and once again it was on a Thursday night.
Miami fell behind 24-7 at halftime and 31-14 late in the third quarter. Everyone, including my faithful father and I watching in Green Bay, Wisconsin, thought this thing was dead to rights.
And then the ‘Canes came back to life. A banged up Brock Berlin, gutting his way through a bruised chest, threw a touchdown.
Jon Peattie kicked two field goals.
When Devin Hester burst up the middle of the field on a punt return touchdown, Miami was back in the lead.
The fireworks were far from over. Freshman Brian Brohm, subbing in for injured starter Stefan Lefors late in the game, lead Louisville on an 80 yard touchdown drive to retake the lead late.
Miami would get the ball back with just over four minutes left on the clock. Down four, Berlin would prove unflappable, leading Miami down the field and setting up a one yard plunge from Frank Gore with 49 seconds left.
When the dust settled, this game would be remembered for a furious comeback, Hester’s brilliance, Berlin’s grit and Mike Tirico’s incredibly high pitched voice.
4.) September 7, 2009 at Florida State (W, 38-34)
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This game meant more at the time then it does in hindsight. However, at the time it felt as if the dark ages had finally passed, and therefore the unbridled joy this win brought secure its spot in the top-5.
This was the season opener of Year 3 of the Randy Shannon Era, when this program was supposed to start hitting its stride again. As usual, this rivalry lived up to its billing.
The ‘Canes lead 14-10 at halftime before falling behind 23-14 in the third quarter.
After a Matt Bosher field goal, Jacory Harris plunged in for a touchdown and the 24-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
On the next Miami possession, Florida State sent corner Greg Reid on a corner blitz that resulted in an interception return for touchdown by Markus White. Not only was Miami down again, but Harris was hurt.
Harris shook off numbness in three fingers on his throwing hand to convert three massive third down passes before lofting a 24 yard touchdown pass to Graig Cooper, tying the game at 31.
FSU then converted a field goal with 4:11 left.
Still hurting, Harris once again lead Miami down the field, throwing and absolute dart down the sideline to a streaking Travis Benjamin. The big pass play (again, with three numb fingers) set up a one yard touchdown run by Cooper to give Miami a 38-34 lead.
Not to be outdone, FSU quarterback Christian Ponder lead his team to the two yard line with 14 seconds left. They had three shots at the end zone. On first down, his pass was broken up. On second, it sailed just high of his receiver, leaving the ‘Noles one final chance. Ponder, flushed from the pocket, fired a low strike to Jarmon Fortson at the near pylon; in fact, he fired it too low. The ball bounced off of Fortson’s shoulder pads and in to the turf.
Miami had won, and all of a sudden there appeared to be a legitimate light at the end of the tunnel. The speed was back in the rivalry, and not only that, the teams looked good. No more 10-7 slug fests. THIS was the game we had come to know and love as Miami fans. And what was more, it looked like Miami finally had a quarterback to lead them.
While it turned out that a coronation was premature, this was a Miami—Florida State game in which both sides played fast and hard and well for the first time in years. And that was incredibly important.
3.) October 10, 2004 vs. Florida State (W, 16-10 (OT))
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I know, I know, another game against Florida State might seem like overkill. To which I say… “maybe you’re right.”
However, this is an historic rivalry and I like picking on that school in Tallahassee. So deal with it.
After being delayed for four days by Hurricane Frances, this was a game dominated by the Seminoles until late in the fourth quarter.
Miami, down 10-3, marched 80 yards in 52 seconds, capped by a Brock Berlin touchdown pass to Sinorice Moss.
With the game tied at 10, the Hurricanes then went on to win on an 18 yard touchdown run by Frank Gore in overtime.
And once again, Miami dispatched the Seminoles with great prejudice.
2.) November 5, 2005 at Virginia Tech (W, 27-7)
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No. 5 Miami traveled to No. 3 Virginia Tech in what was billed as an epic showdown that the Hokies would win.
To say that was wrong would be an understatement. The Hurricanes blitzed early and often, forcing six Marcus Vick turnovers and relenting to only late in the fourth quarter, when the game had long been decided.
Playing in all white, the ‘Canes quickly quieted the vaunted Lane Stadium; this was truly a beat down of the highest order.
This was the first loss of the season for the Hokies, and one they will long remember in Blacksburg.
For the ‘Canes, it resulted in a No. 3 ranking in the next set of polls and was the last time the program was truly in the national title conversation.
1.) September 6, 2003 vs. Florida (W, 38-33)
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This was Brock Berlin’s first showdown against his former team, and it was a performance to remember.
After a game opening kick return touchdown by Devin Hester, it was all Gators until late in the fthird quarter. Trailing 33-10, Miami needed a miracle, and a miracle is what they got.
Berlin started terribly, throwing two interceptions and seeing a fumble returned for a touchdown, but came on when his team needed him, despite leg cramps throughout the fourth quarter.
Starting at the 3:35 mark of the third quarter, Berlin threw for two touchdowns and lead drives to set up two more from Frank Gore, including the game winner with 1:44 left.
Afterward, Berlin exalted in front of the Miami student section. The former Gator leads the charge against Miami’s most hated rival. It was too good to be true.
The comeback was fast and furious, and cemented Berlin’s place forever in the Miami Legend.
On a list of great triumphs, it stands out as the greatest.