Bring on the "U"

It's been 23 years since the Florida Gators last defeated the Miami Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have taken the last six from the Gators with the last coming in the 2004 Peach Bowl where the Gators were on the short end of a 27-10 game.

But both teams come in looking very different from the teams that faced each other those six times over a more than 20-year time period. The Hurricanes were at their lowest low a few years back, but are no resurging under second year head coach Randy Shannon. The Gators, on the other hand, are looking to put an end to Miami's dominance in recent history, as they themselves look to build on last year's disappointing season.

In the six losses the Gators have allowed 23 or more points in each game, and have scored 20 or fewer points in all but one meeting. Given the poor recent history for the Gators, Urban Meyer hasn't paid a whole lot of attention to next Saturday's matchup until now.

"A lot of people wanted to talk to me about it," Meyer said. "I understand that we have not beaten them in over 20 years, 25 years or some ridiculous number like that. I grew up watching Miami, so I'm very aware of who they are and what personnel they have. Obviously, they're one of the best personnel teams in the country. That's all I know about them and I'll learn more about that as the week goes on."

Personnel is the operative word in the matchup between these two teams. The Gators have been moderately successful in luring top talent out of South Florida since Meyer's arrival in Gainesville, and a win against the Canes can go a long way in furthering that effort.

"Coach Strong told me all about the FSU game and the impact that it has on recruiting," Meyer said. "This is my first time playing Miami, and I can only imagine that it will be the showcase of the state. Really, the showcase of the nation with ESPN GameDay coming. I think it will be a tremendous boost for us recruiting in South Florida."

When Meyer took the job at Florida four years ago, he hired Doc Holliday away from West Virginia to help the recruiting efforts in the southern half of the state. Holliday is gone, but the players he was able to help bring to Gainesville is leaving a mark on this year's roster.

"With the talent pool of football players, South Florida is probably as strong as any area in the nation," Meyer said. "You have a built in challenge and that's the University of Miami. They do a nice job, especially last year. The thing you have to do is make sure you don't waste your time with a guy that grew up a Miami fan and that's the way it is. You also have to make sure it's a good fit for the University of Florida. You look at it right now, we have Marcus Gilbert starting, Major Wright is starting, Deonte Thompson is starting and Dorian Munroe would have started."

Even though Gator fans have had this game circled on their calendars since it was announced a year and a half ago, Meyer hasn't paid it much attention – until now.

"Our entire focus has been on Hawaii and I really commend our coaching staff and our players for maintaining that focus," Meyer said. "There are programs across the country that don't do that and they end up getting beat."

Meyer has been known to bring in guest speakers during fall camp to discuss the history of Florida's rivals, but the Miami series is one that he's ignored so far. Even though the Gators have faced the Hurricanes 53 times, which is one less than Florida's matchups with Florida State and 16 fewer than its matchups with Tennessee.

"I've considered it, but you have to be careful here at Florida," Meyer said. "It was easy at Utah because we'd have a speaker come in and talk about the BYU game. At Ohio State, we'd pick Michigan. At Notre Dame, it was USC. Here, if we do it for Miami, then I'd imagine we'd have to do it for South Carolina and LSU. You have to be careful. I've thought about, we haven't done anything, and we might still do something later this week."

In the meantime, Meyer is making sure the Gators keep their comments about Saturday's game to themselves.

"I'm sure there will be some of that going on this week," he said. "We just have to do what we do best and that's come out as hard as we can. With last year's team, I might have had to deal with that, but this year's team likes to play hard when the ball's snapped as opposed to telling people how they play."

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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