Malik Rosier to Darrell Langham: A connection that will live on in Miami-FSU lore forever. Up there with the Wide Rights.

Two unlikely heroes, one unlikely for lack of consistency on the day, another for lack of playing time emerged in the most critical of moments to wipe away seven years of frustration. Seven years of blown leads, kick miscues, and Al Golden…erased in an instance.

Finally, Miami made the play.

But so much more than that. This was a story of getting staggered, of taking gut punches, and ultimately of perseverance.

The Canes were favored and had they simply won easily, the streak would be over, and we’d all be feeling great about the team. We would have a better idea of the talent, and the ceiling of this team. We kind of don’t have any idea now, because we don’t particularly know good Florida State is, and we do know that Miami needed everything to scrape by in this game.

But what we did learn about was this team’s character and this coaching staff’s philosophy. And in that, we learned things that will extend far beyond this season.

I wrote last week that “and perhaps that’s what the Miami-FSU series does more than anything else: It alters program trajectories”… and this really felt like that. More so than simply overcoming a down Florida State team in comfortable fashion would have.

When the going gets tough, the tough throw a touchdown pass with six seconds left

Malik Rosier had one of the worst first halves of football that we’ve ever seen from a quarterback at the University of Miami. Four of sixteen didn’t even do it justice. Even simple throws were being missed. That he went from that to egging on the FSU fans while throwing back-to-back touchdowns to twice rally the Canes in the fourth quarter is mind-blowing. The kid just wouldn’t lose this game, because the kid has swag.

Beyond that, though, so much went wrong, and so much was overcome. Normally, when a streak is repeatedly extended with close wins, you look at it and say, “well, this time the breaks went the other way.”

Look at the most recent Canes’ streak over FSU of six games from 2000-2004 (the teams played twice in 2004). So 2000 went Wide Right, 2002 went Wide Left, the 2004 Orange Bowl was another missed field goal, the 2004 opener was Sinorice Moss scoring with 30 seconds left after Miami blocked a field goal that would have put the game out of reach. But in 2005, finally, FSU got the break. It was the Canes that failed to score from the 1-yard line, then dropped the snap on a game tying kick.

And the last few years, FSU has gotten the breaks and made the plays. So, it’s only natural to expect that pendulum to swing back.

Except it didn’t. FSU didn’t miss a field goal. The Canes didn’t get a call. Instead, Miami had to keep getting up, despite some questionable officiating and some flatly bad luck:

  • Ahmmon Richards, Navaughn Donaldson, Mark Walton, Sheldrick Redwine and Dee Delaney all got injured.
  • The Canes had to burn a timeout on a targeting call that wasn’t made, which knocked off Malik Rosier’s helmet and instead one of FSU’s best players should have been ejected.
  • What appeared to be a fumble on FSU’s late touchdown drive was ruled forward progress.
  • FSU held on several critical plays (one of which caused the FSU’s fans in my section to yell out “holding” in disgust, even though it was on their own team) without a call.

After five years of excuses from He Who Shall Not Be Named, the Canes had every reason to offer one up. Instead, they won the game. Braxton Berrios put on an all-time performance, Malik Rosier overcame struggles to make all the throws, and the “next man up” mentality was lived out in real time. The performance was far from perfect, but the scoreboard was.

Seven years went under the bridge like time was standing still

For seven years, tension built as the Canes repeatedly lost to Florida State and #Canesfam lay dormant. And then on Saturday, it all exploded.

The “football family” thing is a cliché, but in this instant, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t appropriate. Malik Rosier talked to both his predecessor (Brad Kaaya) and the last QB to win in Tallahassee (Jacory Harris). He dedicated the win to the seven teams that failed to get it done.

At its core, Miami is always in an eternal struggle with itself. Conformity has never been high on the agenda, but there is a degree of sunburst here, of a program that flashes then fades constantly, struggling with a lack of acceptance from the outside, while simultaneously not really wanting to be accepted either.

That is what makes this fan base so much tighter. In the end, blue-blood schools don’t have to worry about acceptance. Alabama, regardless of scandal — they’ve had many — or performance — they’ve had down periods —  will always be regarded as an elite program. Yet with Miami, it’s always different. They are always outsiders crashing an aristocratic ball.

Because of that, faced with external stigmas, we turned inward. Our fan base is tight knit largely because we don’t have a choice. And when Saturday happens, when victory is snatched from rivals, when losing streaks are ended, we get a chance to collectively celebrate. As a family… and that was fun.

A lot of fun.

For one glorious Saturday, we were reminded of what it’s like to be a fan of the Miami Hurricanes. What that truly means, in all its glory. Our faith was restored, our future uncertain in the short term, but cemented in the long term.

Saturday was the day that the “if” became “when.”

The Canes will be favored in every game the rest of the way. And inevitably, there will be setbacks, and angst, and heartbreak. That’s the life of a sports fan.

But Malik is here.

And Darrell is here.

And Mark Richt is here. He will continue to shepherd us forward towards the final goal of National Championships. The Canes grabbed hold of their future, and won’t let go at any price. The feeling right now?

At least for one Saturday, the most important Saturday.