MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Fans lined up in their cars before sunrise to enter Sun Life Stadium.
As the rain came down and lightning flashed to kick off the day of tailgating, fans waited in their vehicles, waiting out the storm.
It’s been a long time since a Florida Gators vs. Miami Hurricanes matchup carried as much importance as Saturday’s game does.
The game’s hype has overtaken South Florida and rivals how the old FSU vs. UM games in the 1980’s and 1990’s used to feel. UM, which has struggled to sell out Sun Life Stadium, is expecting a packed house Saturday afternoon and the stadium will have the feel of the old Orange Bowl, at least for one game.
Florida faces a stiff test just like Georgia did last weekend. If the Gators lose, they still are on track to compete for the Southeastern Conference championship and a BCS Bowl berth. A Gators victory, on the road, against a quality opponent, propels Florida towards the BCS championship level.
For Miami, a victory would propel them back onto the national scene after several years of dealing with an NCAA investigation and a decline in the football program. It would be a signature win for head coach Al Golden in just his third season in Miami.
Miami could also continue what Clemson started last week with Atlantic Coast Conference teams knocking off top teams from the top football conference in the land, the Southeastern Conference.
On the flip side, a Miami loss would definitely hurt the Hurricanes more in the rankings, especially in the BCS. The Canes wouldn’t have many quality opponents left on the schedule to move up the rankings if they lose on Saturday.
“It’s a fantastic series,” Gators head coach Will Muschamp said, “and we’ll see where it goes after Saturday.”
The game will also serve as a boon to the recruiting for the winning school, not that either one needs much help in recruiting. Golden has pulled together several top classes and currently has the fourth best class in the nation for the 2014 class.
Florida is not far behind with 15 recruits verbally committed, but is ranked 14th in the nation in 2014 recruiting classes.
The rivalry, which has quite a history behind it, namely the Gators Flop in 1971, is unlikely to continue after Saturday’s game. Florida is facing a possible nine-game SEC schedule in a few years and already is committed to Florida State, which would mean they would have no break each season if they added Miami as well.
So, Canes and Gators fans, enjoy the matchup on Saturday because it may be awhile before the Canes and Gators get matched up again on the gridiron.