No Miracle Necessary

Word association – Miami vs. Boston College. Had you posed this question November 9th, 2001 any college football enthusiast would've mentioned "Hail Flutie" and the dramatic ending of the 47-45 slugfest in the Orange Bowl. A no brainer, right?

Not any more.

Forget that Miami has beaten Boston College twelve straight since that exciting, albeit overplayed finish. None of the match ups included that unimaginable dramatic factor. Usually one-sided blowouts, UM vs. BC is rarely a marquee match up.

November 10th 2001 and a golden knee changed all that.

Seventeen years but the Canes finally upstaged the Eagles in regards to nailbiting finishes. "Hail Flutie" is yesterday's news, replaced by the "Immaculate Interception."

Miami faithful remember all too well – Boston College would give anything to forget. A mere 13 seconds away and one short touchdown pass from upsetting the No. 1 team in the land. What Eagles' quarterback Brian St. Pierre wouldn't give to relive that moment. Dreams destroyed. A rivalry almost reborn, but not in the cards that dreary fall Saturday.

For those who spent November 10th out of the country or in a complete fog, the Canes were on the ropes and the Eagles were cocking back, ready to deliver that once in a lifetime knock out punch. They flinched. Momentarily hesitated. Their moment passed. Miami ducked, counterpunched and sent the Eagles to the canvas for the ten count.

What could've ended a 14-12 upset of the No.1 team in the land wound up 18-7 in Miami's favor. One step closer to Pasadena and the long awaited fifth National Championship. This was just another game to the Canes. An eleven-point victory that sits somewhere in the middle of the current 25 game win streak, right?

Don't believe that for a second.

Brian St. Pierre's pass was intended for Ryan Read. Instead it touched three Hurricanes in a matter of seconds. Mike Rumph's knee started the game of hot potato. Defensive lineman Matt Walters got a piece of the action momentarily before the ultimate playmaker, Ed Reed stripped his own teammate to put an exclamation point on one of the most definitive plays in Hurricane history. As this legendary moment took place, the angry chants poured down from the upper deck.

O-ver-ra-ted. O-ver-ra-ted.

That's right Miami, you're overrated. Forget all the success that occurred during the 2001 season up until this point. You underestimated the Eagles, almost gave the game away and for that you should be mocked and ridiculed.

Amazing how the Alumni Stadium crowd missed the key component of that whole scenario. The word "almost." The Canes damn near choked. A defeat was lurking. The scent of an upset was in the air. Their collective back was to the wall, but they came out swinging.

Lesser teams would've crumbled. Every college football season there is that team that was one win away from a shot at the title. What Florida wouldn't give to have an extra few minutes tacked onto what ended as a 34-32 victory to Tennessee in The Swamp last December – a loss that kept them out of the National Championship picture.

Before Tennessee could step down off of cloud nine in the wake of their stunner over the Gators, they too found a way to choke the following week. The Vols dropped a 31-20 "all the marbles on the table" contest against LSU in the SEC Championship game. The same Tigers team UT had beaten earlier in the season 26-18.

Florida and Tennessee folded like a house of cards when it counted. All previous season highlights were meaningless when they came up short in the most important moments of their collective seasons. While the Canes can say they "almost" lost to Boston College, Florida and Tennessee have to live with "almost" earning their place in the National Championship game.

In the moment of truth the character of each of team was exposed. Contenders were separated from pretenders. Miami made it abundantly clear that nothing would stop their freight train from reaching Pasadena. A team goal implemented at the end of the previous season was seen to completion. At times the Canes were almost derailed.

There's that word again – "almost."

It's been a mantra uttered by Hurricanes for years now. "Big time players make big time plays." Rohan Marley gave his chest-thumping rendition of this after Carlos Jones' game sealing interception for touchdown in the 1994 battle with Florida State. In a post game interview six years later it was a teary-eyed Santana Moss who just experienced his first win over the hated Noles, letting the world know that "big time players step up in big games."

In the 2001 thriller against the Eagles, there was no chatter. The big time players came out of the woodworks and elevated their game to that next level. Completely composed Rumph, Walters and Reed saved a season. If you were to ask them they'd probably tell you the season was never in jeopardy. They had no intent of quietly accepting defeat. It was never an option.

This weekend Boston College comes calling. The Eagles are making that trek down south minus the 44,500 dejected fans that witnessed last season's heartbreaker.

This year's soiree is at the Orange Bowl. Our house. Our fans. Look out. A rare Saturday evening gathering and there's a stench of revenge in the air this time around.

While it is difficult to truly call this a "revenge" game, it is – depending on who you ask. Bet your bottom dollar that Hurricane gunslinger Ken Dorsey circled September 21st as soon as he tacked his new 2002 calendar on the wall last January. Last time Dorsey circled a date on his calendar was September 15th 2001 (postponed to November 24th in the wake of the 9/11 attacks) when Rick Neuheisel of Washington dragged his puppies to town.

The result Miami 65, Washington 7.

Dorsey would love nothing more than to erase the memory of last year's four interception, touchdown-less performance. Aside from owning every conceivable quarterback record at the University of Miami, Dorsey also carries the most burden. He single-handedly takes blame for Miami last loss at Washington in 2000. His validation came in last season's dismantling of the Huskies.

The only other blemish is an "almost." Ken Dorsey's pride was put in check last season when BC got in his head all day long. He knows he almost cost Miami a shot at the title. All of the other accolades were meaningless without a National Championship. Dorsey knows his defense saved him at Chestnut Hill last year. This year he will return the favor.

All the ingredients for a massacre are present. A night game in the OB, the revenge factor and a strong-minded, prideful quarterback with a point to prove? Not a good combo for the enemy – just ask Neuheisel and his Huskies. One has to wonder if UW will ever recover from that bent over, pants around the ankles embarrassing loss.

While the Washington revenge game has that incredible "once in a blue moon" feel to it, don't put it past Miami to come out with the same attitude this weekend. Boston College 2001 was the closest the Canes have come to losing in two years. Chants of "o-ver-ra-ted" still echo while visions of our all white uniforms still give me chills.

FAMU was the warm up, Florida was the real deal and Temple was that inevitable "letdown" game. Boston College represents revenge. The stage is set. Come sundown in South Miami this Saturday the Canes will show the Eagles the true meaning of home field advantage and there ain't a damn thing "o-ver-ra-ted" about it.

Miami 48 Boston College 10

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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