Miami vs. Florida: How the Canes Got Their Swagger Back

Chris BelloContributor ISeptember 7, 2013

The Miami Hurricanes came in to Saturday's matchup against the Florida Gators as underdogs, but left as contenders.
The Miami Hurricanes came in to Saturday's matchup against the Florida Gators as underdogs, but left as contenders.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Five forced turnovers against a Florida team that went 11-2 last season and reached the BCS. Is that enough to at least start the conversation that the Miami Hurricanes are back? 

The Florida Gators entered Saturday's showdown at Sun Life Stadium as three-point favorites, via Vegas Insider, but left as five-point losers, with the Hurricanes notching the program's first signature win under head coach Al Golden, 21-16, in front of a sold-out crowd of 76,968.

Miami quarterback Stephen Morris threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns while running back Duke Johnson carried 21 time for 59 yards and a score. But statistics weren't the name of this game; it was simply a matter of finding a way to get done what needed to be done.

These Hurricanes are finally taking on the personalty of their third-year head coach, proving that it's not always about style points, but about finding a way to accomplish the task, whatever the cost.

Florida rolled into Saturday's showdown with the more impressive resume. Stronger conference, better big-game history and sense of accomplishment that Miami couldn't match. But after four quarters at Sun Life Stadium, it was all for naught. The Hurricanes did enough to get the job done. 

All the talk leading up to this high noon showdown revolved around Florida's respected defense and what Miami could or couldn't do. In the end, it was the Hurricanes' defense that proved to be up to the task, making game-defining plays that lead us to believe UM will shake things up in the ACC—as well as nationally—as the season rolls on. 

Florida was the hurdle Miami needed to get over to gain some legitimacy. Digging in the archives, one would have to go back to 2005 to find a Hurricanes defensive performance so game-defining. 

No. 5 Miami traveled to No. 3 Virginia Tech back in November 2005, and while the Hokies were favored,  turnovers were the name of the game in the 27-7 upset.

Miami's offense proved good enough that chilly night in Blacksburg, but a defense that forced six Virginia Tech turnovers was the difference-maker.  

Lots of football remains, but two games in the swagger looks like it's back. Miami entered an unranked underdog and prevailed as the better team, against a proven Florida squad that beat some formidable foes last season. 

With Savannah State, South Florida, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest on the schedule before a road trip to Florida State, Miami's defense just might leading this Hurricanes squad to a 7-0 record when it's time to take on the Seminoles. 

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