Swamp Drained, Owls Tamed

Hard to believe that two weeks ago the anticipation was running rampant. The Canes were fresh off a cakewalk victory against FAMU and were days away from the highly anticipated meeting with Florida in Gainesville.

The stage was set for Miami's latest dynasty to crumble. The win-streak HAS to end some time, right? What better time than September 7th? What better place than hell on earth, better known as The Swamp? The Gators were getting –2.5 according to the Vegas odds and if you asked a Gainesville resident the outcome en route to the stadium, you'd have been promised a larger margin of victory.

Florida came out woofing, but Miami never flinched. Once the pre-game hype died down it came down to heart, talent, effort, coaching and skill. The Canes excelled in every category.

The Gators never really stood a chance. Of course UF faithful will argue otherwise. The "what ifs" are tallying up like Willis McGahee's yardage but it's falling on deaf ears. There was no mistaking this 41-16 rout. Miami dominated in every phase of the game. Sure, there were jitters on both sides of the ball early in the contest and Ken Dorsey made some less than brilliant decisions – but the Canes controlled the entire afternoon.

Florida had zero ability to stop the run. McGahee shredded the UF defense for 204 yards on 24 carries. Backup Jason Geathers followed suit grinding out 72 yards on 13 carries. His two receptions resulted in Hurricane touchdowns.

While the pessimist is quick to point out Dorsey's three interceptions, the optimist makes note of yet another 200+ yard passing game, four touchdowns and the vision to spread the ball to seven different receivers. Dorsey never put himself in a hole he couldn't climb out of. The clutch throw was always completed when needed.

Up front it was Kehoe's big uglies that took home the unsung hero award. So much for that depleted offensive line, huh? Amazing how much can be learned in the off season when you have the country's best going head to head daily in practice. The offensive line pushes the defensive line and vice versa. Incredibly talented and experienced receivers help turn a young secondary into veterans overnight, but more on that later.

Those sporting the orange and blue had a theorem they couldn't quite convert into truism. Use that Heisman worthy quarterback of theirs to exploit a young, inexperienced Hurricane secondary. Problem for Zook and staff is that there was nothing green about the Canes' coverage. Not only did they stand their ground, but also came up with the big play when necessary.

Safety Maurice Sikes went from unknown to superstar in a matter of moments. His 99-yard interception return for touchdown was undoubtedly the play of the game. It will be on UM's season highlight reel and part of the TV pregame introduction when these two foes face off next season. An instant classic. Just ask Ed Reed about the Boston College late game interception in 2001. Sikes snagged two Grossman passes out of the Gainesville sky. Antrel Rolle technically had one as well. Last I checked CBS commentators were still studying film for the phantom pass interference call on the play.

No sweat Gators, we'll give you that one. Kept the game a little more interesting. Had we scored sooner y'all might have started leaving at halftime as opposed to jumping ship with 2:27 left in the 3rd quarter when Sikes slammed the door on your evening.

The fourth quarter of this Miami/Florida contest was nothing more then a chance for Cane fans to exhale and bask in the glory of the long awaited beat down. Chants of "nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye" poured down from the upper decks. Gator fans head down, arms folded, shuffled out of the ragged stadium that was once theirs. Gainesville became Canesville on September 7th and it lasted until the wee hours of Sunday morning when the last UM fan left town. We decided to take the party back down south.

Question is how long did the hangover last?

It's a few days past Miami's most recent match up with Temple and in some ways it appears that the inevitable "letdown" game has come and gone like a quiet storm.

Hard to call a 44-21 victory a letdown, but when it is Miami vs. Temple, more is expected. Last year's contest was a 38-0 Hurricane victory. Plans for another shutout were not out of line. While the Owls have a well-known playmaker in Dan Klecko, the rest of the bunch are nameless faces. Bottom line, Miami should've left Philadelphia with more than a 23-point victory.

Mental errors were the main culprit. Dorsey falling as he dropped back on a 3rd down, a bad snap here, a fumble there and before you know it Temple had made it respectable, trailing Miami 24-14 at the half.

While the game was never truly in doubt, the end result was truly nothing to cheer. Merely a sub par day at the office. Didn't set the world on fire, yet didn't crash and burn either. McGahee got his 134 yards on the ground and tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns. Yippee. Dorsey had an interception free afternoon, threw for over 300 yards and had a touchdown. Stop the presses. Seriously, wasn't this expected when playing a team that is being booted from the BIG EAST after 2004 for horrendous play? The Owls have only produced one winning season since 1984. The premier team in the nation must annihilate an inferior team such as this.

Give the Canes a "do over." Wipe the slate clean. Ignore this past week – this glitch on the radar screen. Let Miami take a mulligan this time around. Can one truly criticize a team that has won 30 of its last 31 games? How would you even go about picking apart a squad that lost 11 starters to the NFL, including its top rusher and entire secondary?

You don't.

Instead, you keep your spirits up, shake off all doubt and go headfirst into the upcoming week. Have faith in a staff that has out coached its opponents for two years straight. Put your trust in a team that refuses to quit, make excuses or believe the negative hype. Until someone can step up and take it away, all the glory belongs to the Canes.

Get past last week's mistakes and mental errors, Cane fans. Therapy comes this Saturday when the Canes tee it up and take out their aggressions on Boston College in a rare Orange Bowl night game.

Just what the doctor ordered.

Born and raised in Miami, FL and a Grassy.com guest columnist since 1995, Chris Bello now resides in San Diego, CA. Feel free to send your comments or to contact him for potential writing assignments at cbello@san.rr.com

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