Although two teams can play one another every season, the label of rivalry is not added until a big moment signals the spark. In college football, there are hundreds of “so-called” rivalry games that are described by fans and alumni who believe that their school compared with another is the most sacred of events to take place on a fall Saturday each year. Who has the greatest rivalry? Well that depends on who you are asking. This past weekend showcased one of the all-time classics, the Miami Hurricanes against in-state rival Florida State, who both came in undefeated and nationally ranked in the top 10. However, while on paper it looked as if it had the makings of a marquee matchup, the overall feeling is Miami has overachieved this season and not worthy of the current spotlight.
In the end, many would say that the previous statement held true as the Seminoles rolled over the Canes 41-14. In fact, some would even say that it is not even considered a rivalry at the moment, as the 'Noles have now taken the last seven out of nine games. But compared to the deep and rich history from both programs, the last decade has not exactly boasted the level of excellence that has come to be expected. The two schools are returning to prominence and perhaps this is a new start. Much like October 3, 1987.
Florida State and Miami had already been playing for years, but a game that pitted the likes of All-Americans Michael Irvin against Deion Sanders, it put the series on the map for a national audience to enjoy. It was #3 Miami visiting #4 Florida State in front of a then-record crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium. Even outside of the superstars both teams were loaded. More than 60 players who took the field that day eventually went on to play football on Sundays in the NFL, including 10 first-round draft choices.
Much like Saturday’s game, Florida State came out firing and got out to an early, comfortable lead. However, after going down 19-0, Miami mounted a furious comeback to keep their undefeated season in play. A deep pass down the right sideline to Michael Irvin gave the 'Canes a lead late in the game, but Florida State stormed right back with a touchdown to pull within one. Rather than settle for the tie with an extra point conversion, the 'Noles gambled and went for two. The pass to the right corner was broken up by Miami, and the aforementioned spark was officially lit for one of the greatest rivalries in college football history. They would face each other as top ten teams each of the next six seasons, with plenty more drama to be had. But 1987 will forever be the mark of when it all started.