Back at No. 1

It took a while, but the University of Miami football team is back where it spent most of the 80's and early 90's. At No. 1. After 457 weeks and close to nine years of not occupying the view from the top, the wait is over. The 'Canes were last #1 under Dennis Erickson (left).

Earlier this week, the Hurricanes were vaulted over the University of Florida in the Associated Press Top 25 poll as the top-ranked team in the nation. Miami also gained ground in the ESPN/ USA Today Coaches' poll on the Gators. although they remained No. 2.

The last time Miami was ranked No. 1? December of 1992 when a 11-0 Miami team was gearing to play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship. The Hurricanes would finish the season at No. 3 after losing to the Clemson Tide in New Orleans. During that 11-1 season in 1992, the Hurricanes were ranked No. 1 all but three weeks of the season and in the final six regular season games.

In the preseason, the Gators were placed at No. 1 with a 13-point margin over the Hurricanes even though Miami received 12 more first-place votes than Florida.

Not this time.

One week into the regular season, the Hurricanes have 37 first-place votes as opposed to 19 for the Gators. UM holds the top spot by 16 overall votes- 1,737 to 1,721. Miami is just 16 points behind the Gators in the coaches poll for No. 1.

Miami defeated Penn State 33-7 in their opener in State College, Pa. Florida opened with a 49-14 win over Marshall.

"It's very gratifying to be ranked number one and it's good to see the respect of the national media coming off the win over Penn State," said Miami coach Larry Coker.

"While it's gratifying, we also realize it is much more important for us to be on top at the end of the season than at the beginning. We have our work cut out for us this season, and we have a long way to go."

Coker, who was making his coaching debut against Penn State, now can say he made it to No. 1 faster than any other coach in Miami history. The closest was Jimmy Johnson whose team was voted to the top spot after three games in the 1984 season.

Said senior offensive tackle Joaquin Gonzalez: "Obviously, number one is where we want to be. It's very satisfying to be on top of the rankings. It's one of the goals we have set for ourselves, but we also know that it is very early and we have to earn whatever we get this season."

Miami was ranked No. 2 at the end of the regular season last year, but were leapfrogged by Florida State in the Bowl Championship Standings and were locked out of the national championship game.

The Hurricanes finished second after defeating Florida in the Sugar Bowl. FSU lost to Oklahoma in the national title game.

Miami cut into the Gator's lead in the USA Today/ESPN poll, released earlier this week. The Hurricanes began the season 100 points behind Florida in the coaches poll.

Florida coach Steve Spurrier said the Hurricanes were 'impressive' their first game and deserved the top ranking.

"Miami was more impressive," said Spurrier. "But that's OK. We're not worried about that. It's no problem. The Hurricanes had a great game and deserve to be No. 1. No question."

Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, who threw for 344 yards against Penn State and was voted Big East Offensive Player of the Week, was thrilled to be at No. 1.

"It's great to be ranked No. 1," said Dorsey. That's one of the big reasons I came to the University of Miami-to compete for a national championship. It is early in the season and we have a lot of football to play, but it is exciting to be in this position and know that our destiny is in our hands."

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