The 'Canes came to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium undefeated against Florida for the past six games and hoping to make that a seven-game winning streak. Unfortunately for them, they got totally dominated by the Gators in an ugly game that the visitors lost, 26-3.
Unlike last week's game against Hawaii, Tim Tebow played a huge part in the victory. He was good early and late in the game. He made 21-of-35 passes, threw two TD's, and threw for 258 yards. He also rushed 15 times for 55 yards. Gators coach Urban Meyer said of Tebow: "We can do much more with him and we will."
The 'Canes, who are practically rebuilding this season, had Robert Marve as the starting QB. He was 10-of-18 passing for 69 yards and was sacked three times.
The Gator offense wasn't the only part of the team that worked to perfection. The defense acted as a brick wall and allowed Miami to only get 140 yards. Coach Meyer said after the game: "Our defense played outstanding. I thought they played great.”
Matt Bosher shanked a punt on the team’s opening drive, a 14-yard kick that gave the Gators great field possession. Tebow made easy work of the short field, directing a 35-yard drive on five plays and giving Florida a 7-0 lead with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Hernandez.
Miami then sucked the energy out of Florida Field—most of the record 90,833 in attendance were clad in orange and blue—with a 16-play drive that took 8:42 off the clock and kept Tebow on the sideline. It ended with a field goal, but gave the Hurricanes plenty of confidence they could play with the Mighty Gators.
Florida, whose two scores in the first half came off Miami miscues on special teams, led 9-3 to start the fourth quarter. But Tebow, Harvin & Co. finally found their rhythm, putting together consecutive drives of 86 and 95 yards to put the game away.
The Gators, who finished with 345 total yards, took advantage of two favorable calls to score the first of the two late touchdowns. Tebow hooked up with Carl Moore for a 28-yard gain on third-and-9, putting the Gators at the 5-yard line. Moore was initially ruled out of bounds, but officials reviewed the play and said Moore’s elbow touched down before his feet landed out of bounds.
“That was the play of the day,” said Meyer, adding that Moore sustained a hip-pointer on the catch. “That kind of changed momentum.”
Three plays later, on another third down, Miami’s Randy Phillips was flagged for pass interference against Harvin. It gave the Gators a first-and-goal at the 2. Harvin took a pitch from Tebow on third down and outran several defenders for the score.
Phillips insisted the pass to Harvin was not catchable and should not have been flagged.
“No way,” he said. “But the ref made the call, so that’s what we’ve got to live with. Chalk it up, play some more, bounce back.”
Florida’s next drive was the most impressive of the night, a five-play, 95-yarder that sealed the victory. Tebow found Louis Murphy—yes, the guy who spouted off about Florida being better suited than Miami to be referred to as “The U”—in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard strike.
Jonathan Phillips added a 29-yard field goal with 25 seconds to play for the final score.
“We can build a lot of things off this game,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said after the game. “That’s the one thing that we’re excited about. They see where we can get better, and they also know we were able to play with a top-five team in this country and we had a shot."
The Gators and 'Canes used to play each other every year. However, the Gators dropped Miami in 1988 because they wanted to play a “more national schedule.” They promptly replaced the Hurricanes with Montana State. Miami fans accused the Gators of pulling out because the Hurricanes were dominating them—on field and on the national scene.
Former Florida coach Steve Spurrier wanted to add Miami back to the schedule in 1990, hoping to bolster recruiting efforts in talent-rich Dade County. But with the Southeastern Conference expanding, there was no room.
After a 13-year hiatus, Florida and Miami renewed the rivalry in the 2001 Sugar Bowl and have played a few times since. But the Gators kept ending up on the losing end. Until now.
Regarding the Gators-Canes games, Tebow said that he was glad he didn't have to hear about it anymore. This is probably the last game Tebow will play against Miami.