Canes start title defense Aug. 31st

Just having wrapped up the school's fifth national championship, the University of Miami football team won't have to worry about defending their title for a few more months. But the Hurricanes will certainly be on the ‘Most Wanted' list of plenty of opponents with the start of the 2002 season.

Once Miami does return to the field they will have to deal with perhaps two of the Southern Eastern Conference power-houses, their annual assignment with a long standing in-state rival and four Big East Conference teams that sported winning records a year ago, as part of their schedule for the upcoming season.

The defending champion Hurricanes, who capped a 12-0 season with a victory over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl Jan. 3, will open their 2002 schedule at home in the Orange Bowl against Division I-AA Florida A&M Saturday, Aug. 31. The Rattlers finished 7-4 last season.

An intense regular-season rivalry will be renewed Sept. 7 when the Hurricanes travel to Gainesville to play the University of Florida and new head coach Ron Zook. The Gators, who finished the season with a victory over Maryland in the Orange Bowl, were 10-2 in 2001.

Both schools haven't met in a regular-season contest since the 1987 opener when UM defeated UF 31-4. The teams faced each other in the 2000 Nokia Sugar Bowl with the Canes walking away with a 37-20 victory. The all-time series between both schools is tied at 25-25.

The Hurricanes will visit Knoxville, Tennessee for the first time ever on Nov. 9 to face the SEC runner-up Volunteers, who lost to LSU in last season's SEC title game and concluded the 2001 year 11-2. This will be the second meeting of the schools. Tennessee defeated Miami 35-7 in the Sugar Bowl.

Miami will host the Florida State Seminoles Oct. 12 in what has become one of the most anticipated games the college football's regular-season schedule. After losing five straight to the Seminoles, the Hurricanes are on a two-game winning streak against FSU, including a 49-27 victory in Tallahassee last season. Despite being outscored 908-877 by the Seminoles, the Canes lead the all-time series 25-20.

UM will open their conference schedule on the road against fourth-place Big East finisher Temple, Sept. 14 . The Owls, 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the Big East last season, The Owls have lost 10 games in a row to Miami and have been outscored 448-132.

The Boston College Eagles will come in to the OB Sept. 21. The Eagles, 8-4 last season, have lost 12 straight times to the Hurricanes, including last season on a last-second interception. The last time the Eagles defeated UM? 1984 on a hail mary pass by a quarterback named Doug Flutie. The Hurricanes will host the Pittsburgh Panthers on Nov. 21 in a Thursday night game on ESPN. Miami scored a 43-21 victory against the Panthers at Heinz Field last September. UM leads the all-time series 19-9-1 over the Panthers, who finished 2001 at 7-5 and tied for third in the Big East with a 4-3 mark. Pitt defeated N, C. State 34-19 in the Florida Tangerine Bowl.

The final road trip of the regular-season will take the Hurricanes into the Carrier Dome in Syracuse to face the Orangemen Nov. 30. Miami destroyed Syracuse 59-0 last season and has a 13-7 advantage in the series.

Also on the Hurricanes agenda are a Oct. 26 match-up at West Virginia and Nov. 2 at Rutgers. The Canes defeated both the Mountaineers (45-3) and the Scarlet Knights (61-0) a year ago. Miami will also take on the University of Connecticut for the first time ever in a Oct. 5 contest in the Orange Bowl. The Huskies, 2-9 last season, begin Big East play in 2005. In total, the Hurricanes will square off against seven teams that participated in the bowl season last year. The Gators and Volunteers finished ranked in the top-10 nationally.

All game times are yet to be determined and will be announced this summer. The only possible conflict in the UM schedule could occur against the Gators. The game falls on the first day of Rosh Hashana, Sept. 7 and a schedule change is still under discussion.

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