|Gators try to snap losing streak against Miami|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 05 September 2008 11:41|
What he does know - maybe all he needs to know - is that the Gators haven't beaten the Hurricanes since 1985, a six-game losing streak in an on-again, off-again series that has Florida's star quarterback and his teammates eager to turn things around Saturday night at The Swamp.
``We need to win because I don't know when's the next time we'll get an opportunity at them,'' Tebow said.
This could be Tebow's only shot. The fifth-ranked Gators (1-0) and the Hurricanes (1-0) aren't scheduled to play again until 2013, another long break in a rivalry that used to be one of college football's best.
It certainly was one of the most heated, from the ``Florida Flop'' in 1971, to the ``Peach Pelting'' in 1980, to the ``Bourbon Street Brawl'' in 2001.
No one knows what will happen next.
But the next chapter in the storied series started with players exchanging barbs this week. Florida receiver Louis Murphy took the first jab, saying Miami shouldn't be referred to as the ``The U'' anymore. He said Florida should be called ``The U'' because the program is winning more right now and has a more recent championship.
Coach Urban Meyer quickly placed Murphy off limits to media interviews.
The Hurricanes responded by taking the high road - well, sort of.
``Those guys can talk whatever they want,'' left tackle Jason Fox said. ``All it is is just words. They can run their mouth as much as they want. We're going to talk with our helmets and we're going to shut them up quick.''
Miami has plenty of confidence, especially for a team coming off a 5-7 season and designated a 21 1/2-point underdog at Florida Field, where the Gators are 20-1 in three seasons under Meyer.
Then again, most of the Miami players weren't even born the last time the Gators won a game in the series.
``I believe it's 0-6 lately for Florida, something like that,'' 'Canes center Xavier Shannon said. ``We want to keep it going. We don't want to give them any breathing room. We want to make it 0-7, and the next time we play the Gators, they have to worry about not going 0-8.''
No non-conference team has even beaten Florida seven times in a row, let alone eight, so the Hurricanes would make history with another victory.
But the Gators don't want to let it happen.
``It's a whole different year,'' linebacker Brandon Hicks said. ``They're still rebuilding, so we have a chance to turn something around here.''
Florida has been outscored 197-98 in the six-game losing streak, getting beat twice in Gainesville, twice in Miami and twice in bowl games. The only time the Gators were really close was in 2003 in the Orange Bowl. They led 33-10 with 6:10 left in the third quarter, putting then-coach Ron Zook in line for his biggest victory as Steve Spurrier's successor.
But then Florida fell apart. Brock Berlin threw for 340 yards, overcoming leg-buckling cramps and rallying Miami to a stunning 38-33 victory.
The game went down as one of the most memorable in the series, right up there with right-hander George Mira's left-handed pass to beat Florida in 1961 and fullback James Jones' falling-backward, one-handed TD catch in the closing minutes to seal a victory for the Gators in 1982.
The ``Florida Flop,'' the ``Peach Pelting'' and the ``Bourbon Street Brawl'' are remembered for much different reasons.
With Florida leading 45-8 late in the fourth quarter of the season's final game in '71, defenders laid down and let the Hurricanes score so quarterback John Reaves could have the ball back and get the 15 yards he needed to break Jim Plunkett's record for NCAA career passing yards.
Miami coach Fran Curci refused to shake hands with Florida coach Doug Dickey after the game. Making matters worse, several Gators headed to the Orange Bowl's east end zone and jumped into a pool that housed Miami Dolphins mascot Flipper during NFL games.
It fired up the Hurricanes for years.
The rivalry grew even more bitter in 1980, when Florida fans - angry that the Gators trailed Miami 28-7 late in Gainesville - threw oranges, tangerines, peaches and ice cubes at the Hurricanes, who were headed to the Peach Bowl. Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger was so furious he ordered a field goal to add to the final margin.
``I've learned very quickly in this state that football is everything,'' said Gators defensive lineman Duke Lemmens, a sophomore from California. ``Any time two major Florida teams play it's a big deal and anything can happen.''
For the Gators, the game never hit the heights of other Southeastern Conference rivalries like Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee - or reached the crescendo of the annual meeting with Florida State.
So Florida dropped the Hurricanes in 1988 because it wanted to play a ``more national schedule,'' then promptly replaced them with Montana State. Miami fans accused the Gators of pulling out because the Hurricanes were dominating them - on field and on the national scene.
With Florida's recruiting efforts suffering in talent-rich Dade County, Spurrier wanted the Hurricanes back on the schedule in 1990. But with the SEC expanding, there was no room.
After a 13-year hiatus, Florida and Miami renewed the rivalry in the 2001 Sugar Bowl. Just a few nights before Miami's 37-20 win, a handful of players from both teams mixed it up on Bourbon Street.
The Hurricanes would like to do even more damage Saturday.
``This is more than a game for us and same for those guys,'' Miami running back Javarris James said. ``It's personal. It's bragging rights for our fans, for the whole state. People say we're down, but this is the game that can put us back up. It's a great opportunity to play a great team and we can show the nation what we've got.''