It was the game college football lacked all opening weekend and didn't get until Monday night -- but boy, did it deliver.
Miami defeated Florida State in Tallahassee, 38-34, in a nationally televised wild one featuring 6 lead changes, the obligatory botched FSU field goal, and a heart-stopping moment for 'Canes fans when sophomore QB Jacory Harris appeared to sustain an injury to his throwing arm in the 4th quarter.
"This one here is probably the [third] greatest football game I have seen," said Bobby Bowden, "and we lost."
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The game also served as the coming out party of Florida State's freshman corner Greg Reid and the unveiling of the clinical toss-bot Christian Ponder 2.0.
But Harris did what Ponder could not -- win -- and he did so by following up a hard, injurious hit from Reid and its resulting interception return by going 7-for-9 for 122 yards and setting up a Graig Cooper rushing touchdown with just 1:53 remaining.
After that, it was up to the 'Canes defense to keep Florida State from scoring on five opportunities from the Miami 2-yard-line with :23 left. When a last-second, low pass from Ponder to Jarmon Fortson hit the ground as Fortson attempted to scoop it up, Miami's victory became the 10th of 11 games between the two schools in the last decade to be decided by a touchdown or less.
Harris was the undisputed, icy-veined star of the show. His 386 passing yards were the most by a UM quarterback in a first start against FSU, and the most since Ken Dorsey threw 422 against West Virginia in 2002.
"The best thing to hit UM since Ed Reed," raved ESPN's Bruce Feldman. "[The] 'Canes haven't had a presence like this in a long time. Born winner."
As for that arm? "I still don't have any feeling in [two fingers]. I've never had anything like that before," Harris reported of his "funny bone incident."
"[But] I had to fight through. I had to help this team win."
What was good: the Hurricanes' patchy offensive line protected Harris pretty well, after all. And vastly improved junior wideout Leonard Hankerson saved the day with a crucial first down on 3rd-and-15 the second-to-last drive, which led to a touchdown.
What wasn't: the defense took care of the run issue that killed them last year (down to 110 yards from 281 in 2008), for the most part, but couldn't stop Ponder and the Seminoles as they racked up 294 yards in the air. Also: Lou Holtz. It's time, ESPN. Time to let him go be an old crazy man.
What it means: the 'Canes still face three top twenty teams in September, and the win goes only as far as conference positioning. National implications remain to be earned.
Janie Campbell thinks FSU kickers are the best running gag in football. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.