On Saturday at noon, an epic game took place at the SunLife Stadium in Sunrise, Florida.
The unranked Miami Hurricanes took on the #12 Florida Gators for what might be the last time in the history of the rivalry.
And we were there to watch the Canes take the victory!
I don’t get to go to a lot of away football games. Mr PugRunner somehow manages to get on some boys’ road trips each year, and I must admit, while I love that he gets away to do something he loves, I really hate not getting to join in on the fun. It was the most amazing surprise when he told me that he had a plan for tickets and that we would be staying with one of my amazing college friends and going to one of the biggest games of the season.
Insert lots of squealing and jumping around.
Amazingly, everything worked out. We got fantastic seats in the lower bowl, and on Friday night, after dropping little man off with our friends for the weekend, we embarked on the drive. The game was scheduled for noon on Saturday, and the parking lots were opening at 5AM for RVs and 6AM for vehicles for tailgating. Hardcore. The plan was to leave at 7AM to pick up our friend M’s dad at the designated meeting place and head to the game.
We were exhausted from our drive, and then we stayed up probably a little too late, catching up with M and N and another friend who was joining us. I definitely set the alarm for 5:30 so I could get up and showered, and I know I hit the snooze button once, but… somehow…. we ended up sleeping til 6:30! We LEAPED out of bed. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Mr PugRunner move that quickly in the morning.
M had packed the car the night before, and so we just had to add a few things from the fridge, shower and throw on our gear, and head out the door. In fact, the only issue was that it was raining, but the weather reports showed that the skies would clear shortly, so all was well. We were anxious and excited and ready to eat and drink and watch some football!
We picked up M’s dad and just as we were about to head out, M froze. He had done the most amazing job getting everything ready. Except one little detail. He had forgotten our tickets and parking pass. I think the oxygen got sucked out of the car full of people. We discussed a few strategies – N could take the truck and drive us to the game while M zipped back to his house in his dad’s car and took a cab to the stadium, but… we needed the parking pass to get in. And so we just had to drive 30 minutes back to the house to get the tickets.
Fortunately, the rain seemed to have kept some of the crowds from venturing out before first light, so we were able to zip into a spot at 9:30. Perfect.
The crowd in the parking lot was a LOT rougher than I remember when I was still living and attending games in South Florida. Within five minutes, I saw a group of college aged kids throwing beer cans and champagne bottles from the top of a truck, people getting rowdy and in each other’s faces. I was a little nervous about the vibe in the stadium, but I figured we would just make the best of it.
We dug in to some Bloody Mary’s and delicious food – meatballs, sausages, hummus and chips, and Rice Krispie treats with orange & green sugar.
Nom nom nom.
As we hung around, we took in the crowd. And I got some very important fashion tips.
- High-waisted, mom-jean style shorts are BACK.
- Women should wear guy-style muscle shirts (the kind with arm holes from shoulder to waist) with a contrasting bra underneath.
- Women should wear guy style muscle shirts with nothing at all underneath.
Please adjust your wardrobes accordingly.
Finally, it was time to go inside to find our seats! Even though I miss the Orange Bowl (as all Canes fans do), the energy on Saturday was AMAZING. UM president Donna Shalala had declared a white-out, and it was incredible seeing all the white shirts in the sold-out stands. And the noise! Oh, the noise! I never thought SunLife would rock like the Orange Bowl, but the stadium was alive and insane and wonderful.
I was so happy to be a part of it.
The Band of the Hour came out, and then the Miami Hurricanes ran on to the field, in a signature cloud of smoke.
The Hurricanes drew first blood with a touchdown, and when the Gators tried to answer with a TD of their own, the Hurricanes defense squashed their attempt at a two point conversion and went on to widen the lead with a second touchdown, putting the score at 14-6, in favor of Miami.
The second and third quarters were less productive – pitting the defenses against each other. The Gators managed to slide in a field goal in the third, but, as all Hurricanes know, we own the fourth quarter. And on Saturday, we proved it, yet again. The final scored was 21-16, and a mountain of respect to Al Golden and his young team, for fighting to the bitter end. The Hurricane offense wasn’t spectacular, and the Gators were able to hold them down to 212 offensive yards, which was pretty dismal, but the defense rallied, forcing three fumbles and two interceptions, blocking a punt, shutting the Gators out of the red zone time and time again, and foiling a Florida onside kick attempt.
In the fourth quarter, the crowd was out of control. At one point, I could actually feel the stadium floor moving from the stomping and jumping. It was so incredible.
And when the clock ran out, with Hurricanes in the lead, the roars of celebration were deafening!
We cheered and chanted and high-fived our way back to the parking lot, where we settled in to celebrate as the traffic cleared. Except Mr PugRunner, who wanted to go down to the field after the game (I don’t know why he loves to do it, but he does), and then took the long, long way back to the car. We got a wee bit worried at one point, but he turned up and rejoined the party.
As we were hanging out, the guys suddenly started whispering amongst themselves. It seemed that Channing Crowder (ex-Gator, ex-Dolphin and current host of a radio show of 560AM) was hanging out across the way. Never shy, our guys, they made their way over, offered their condolences and posed for pictures. He was super sweet and loved that he had a long-distance fan of his show in Mr PugRunner.
We were thinking about packing up when some of the players started to leave the stadium. And what do you know, but sophomore cornerback Tracy Howard, he of the amazing interception with five minutes to go, happened to be related to the guys tailgating next to us. Mr PugRunner and M had befriended them before the game. As one of the heroes of the game, he was immediately swarmed by our group for praise and congratulations, and he was gracious enough to pose for pictures.
Such an incredible day. Even though it was a noon game, it remained overcast and not too brutally hot or sunny. The crowd was great. We had a Gator fan behind us who might have been a problem, but at the end of the day, the mood stayed friendly and light. We could not have asked for a better time.
Needless to say, it was tough getting out of bed this morning. I managed it and squeezed in just over three miles, but I would have rather been in bed.
How did your teams do this weekend? Did you attend any football games?
Are you ready for the week?