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Breaking down a match up between the 2008 Florida Gators vs. 2001 Miami Hurricanes; Plus a crazy pre-game party of historic consequence

GAINESVILLE -- And now ... for your weekend entertainment ...

Canes fans will tell you that the 2001 Hurricanes were the best team ever assembled in the history of college football. Maybe not. How would the 2008 Gators match up with the 2001 Canes? I ran the two teams through a computer simulation at WhatIfSports.com and here's what the program spit out: Canes 47, Florida 9 on a nuetral field. Here's a link to the simulate box score. LINK!

Seems bogus to me. I don't think the 2008 Gators would lose by 38 points to any team of any decade. Still, it makes for an interesting debate. Ed Reed vs. Percy Harvin! Carlos Dunlap vs. Bryant McKinnie! Brandon Spikes vs. Clinton Portis! Jonathan Vilma vs. Tim Tebow!

Let's us our imaginations...

So, I recently invented a time machine/teleportation device and sent the 2008 Florida Gators and the 2001 Miami Hurricanes to Saturday, Jan.23, 2010 in Miami, Fla. The two teams have had nearly a week of practice and preparation and the biggest college football game in the history of the world is nearly upon us. Everyone is healthy. The big game is only two days away and Dolphin Stadium has been sold out since the minute tickets went on sale for this mythical-no-more dream game.

Of course, there's controversy...

Reporter Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald had a friend who invented the time machine. The friend died of scarlet fever (long story) and before he departed willed the machine to Goodman. Goodman is using the machine to set up mythical sporting events at Dolphin Stadium. Much to the consternation of ESPN/ABC, FOX, NBC and CBS, all mythical games will being broadcast exclusively on MiamiHerald.com and all proceeds are being donated to Goodman's favorite non-profit organizations, the Miami-Dade County Humane Society and the Broward County Humane Society.

World leaders have protested the use of Goodman's time machine for a sporting event, arguing that the time machine should be used for "rewriting history" and "saving lives." Goodman ignored the world leaders and said in a five-second press conference, "This world is populated by humans and humans cannot be trusted! If you want to save a life, adopt a dog. If you want to save lives, adopt two dogs and a cat. Next month we're teleporting the best 64 college football teams of the past 30 years to the present and organizing a playoff. Then we're going to start with every year since 1930 and run down the line. Take that, BCS!"

The Miami Herald has used the time machine to organize a pregame party. It's going to be a good party. Movie stars and politicians were not invited.

Price of admission: $15 (includes free T-shirt, sunscreen and sunglasses)

PRE-GAME PARTY, 10:30 a.m.-noon
All you can eat food and drinks (all day and night)
(Sponsored by Pollo Tropical, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Beef Eater Steakhouse, Bacadri and El Presidente)

-Ringling Brothers Circus featuring Harry Houdini, Evel Knievel and Tony Hawk, 10:30 a.m.-noon

-Elvis performing with Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Jack White and Phil Collins; noon to 1 p.m.
-Tupac performing with Biggie Smalls, Eazy-E, Snoop Dogg and the Red Hot Chili Peppers
-Mozart performing with Alicia Keys, Elton John, Chris Martin and the New York Philharmonic, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
-Michael Jackson performing with Prince, Stevie Wonder, Justin Timberlake and Usher, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
-Eddie Veder performing with Kurt Cobain, Johnny Ramone, Dave Davies, Matt Cameron and John Bonham 3:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m.
-The Beatles performing with Outkast, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

-3 v 3 basketball featuring Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird (circa 1992) vs. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (present), 5:45-6:15 p.m.
-3 v 3 soccer featuring Pele (circa 1960), Maradona (circa 1986) and Cubillas (circa 1972) vs. Beckenbauer (circa 1970), Zidane (circa 2006) and Cruyff (circa 1973), 6:30-7 p.m.
-Muhammad Ali (circa 1965) vs. Mike Tyson (circa 1988), 7:15-7:45 p.m.

George Carlin, 8 p.m.

Bob Dylan featuring The Grateful Dead, 8:20 p.m. (10-minute jam session)

Don Shula, 8:30 p.m.

2001 Miami Hurricanes vs. 2008 Florida Gators, 8:35 p.m.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, winner of the 2007 Heisman Trophy, has been heralded by many as the greatest college football player of all time. In 2007, he became the first player to pass for 20 touchdowns and run for 20 touchdowns. He finished third in the Heisman vote in Dec. 2008 but did receive the most first-place votes. Tebow's accuracy and arm strength as a passer have been underestimated by many and he'll be looking to prove on Saturday that he can play quarterback in the NFL. In 2008, Tebow had a sparkling 172.37 passing efficiency rating and threw for 2,746 yards, 30 touchdowns and four interceptions. In addition to his skills as a passer, Tebow is human wrecking ball out of the Gators' shotgun, spread-option offense. He leads UF in rushing with 673 yards on the ground and 12 rushing touchdowns. Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey is a traditional pocket passer and a calm and steady force for the 2001 Hurricanes. Like Tebow in 2008, Dorsey finished third in the Heisman Trophy vote in 2001. He had an impressive 146.12 passing efficiency rating entering the 2002 Rose Bowl and in Miami's first 11 games Dorsey threw for 2,652 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Dorsey has been at his best in third-down situations. The clutch Californian has completed 66.7 percent of his passing attempts on third-down, resulting in 820 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and a 52 percent third-down conversion rate.
EDGE: Florida

The strength of the 2001 Miami Hurricanes' offense is its impressive stable of running backs. Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and even little-used fourth-string back-up Najeh Davenport are each future NFL talents. The four Canes have combined for 2,130 yards on the ground. Through 11 games, Clinton leads all with 1,200 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Portis leads the four running backs with an amazing 9.1 yards-per-carry average. McGahee and Davenport have contributed three rushing touchdowns each. The 2001 Hurricanes averaged 204.6 rushing yards per game. Led by Tebow's blue-collar running style, Florida's spread-option offense averaged 231.1 rushing yards per game. In 14 games, all-purpose threat Percy Harvin averaged 9.4 yards per carry in 2008 (a national high) and Florida's top five rushers -- Tebow, Harvin, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Emmanuel Moody -- combined for 3,007 rushing yards.
EDGE: Miami

The dream matchup between the 2008 Florida Gators and the 2001 Miami Hurricanes will feature a pair of talented tight ends. Miami tight end Jeremy Shockey is as tough as they come. Selected a second-team All-American by ABC Sports in 2001, Shockey led the Canes in receptions (40) and had 519 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in Miami's first 11 games. Freshman Kellen Winslow is a capable backup. Shockey's counterpart is Florida Gators sophomore Aaron Hernandez, a budding star who was pushed into the starting lineup in the 2008 preseason when original starter Cornelius Ingram injured his knee. Hernandez emerged as one of the best underclassmen tight ends in 2008. He finished the season with 34 receptions for 381 yards and five touchdowns.
EGDE: Miami

Miami Hurricanes sophomore Andre Johnson is the Hurricanes' big-play threat. He grabbed the national spotlight in the 2002 Rose Bowl when he earned co-MVP honors along with quarterback Ken Dorsey. Johnson had 199 receiving yards on seven receptions with two touchdowns against Nebraska. Fellow wide-out Kevin Beard had solid season in 2001 with 29 receptions for 405 yards and two touchdowns. Third option Ethenic Sands had 26 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown. Flanker Daryl Jones started seven games in 2001 and had 20 receptions for 247 yards. Florida receiver Percy Harvin was a second-team All-American in 2008 and was at his best in the 2009 BCS national championship. He rushed for 122 yards on nine carries and had 49 yards receiving against Oklahoma at Dolphin Stadium. Florida wide-out Louis Murphy demands attention on the edge and is a valuable downfield blocker for the Gators' running attack, which specializes in big plays. Murphy finished 2008 with 38 receptions for 655 yards and seven touchdowns. Back-up receivers Riley Cooper and David Nelson are solid options for quarterback Tim Tebow.
EDGE: Florida

A staggering amount of talent will be featured along both offensive lines of the dream matchup between the 2001 Miami Hurricanes and the 2008 Florida Gators. Without question, the most talented player will be Miami offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, the 2001 winner of the Outland Trophy. McKinnie, who was named College Football Player of the Year by cnnsi.com in 2001, never allowed a sack while in a Hurricanes' uniform. He was complemented by another standout tackle, Joaquin Gonzalez, who was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award and earned several All-American honors. The 2001 Miami Hurricanes' offensive line allowed a national low four sacks in 2001 and its balanced offense compiled 475 points through 11 games, a school record. Miami senior guard Martin Bibla earned second-team All-America honors from ABC Sports and was a first-team All-Big East selection. Canes' center Brett Romberg was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy in 2001 and won Rimington in 2002. Left guard Ed Wilkins began the season as a backup but moved into the starting lineup when Sherko Haji-Rasouli was lost with a knee injury. Wilkins played arguably his best game of the 2001 season in the 2002 Rose Bowl, earning All-Bowl honors by Sports Illustrated.

Florida's offensive line in 2008 was led by a pair of experienced fifth-year seniors at the tackle positions. Jason Watkins and Phil Trautwein anchored an offense that dominated the Southeastern Conference and averaged 43.6 points per game. The Gators allowed just 16 sacks in 2008. Trautwein was a second-team All-American for Sports Illustrated and a first-team All-SEC selection by The Associated Press. Watkins was a team captain in 2008 and earned All-SEC honorable mention honors from The Associated Press. Sophomore center Maurkice Pouncey was arguably the Gators' best offensive lineman in 2008. He would later win the Rimington Trophy in 2009. His twin brother, Mike Pouncey, was dominant force at the guard position and newcomer Carl Johnson had a breakthrough season in 2008 after fifth-year senior Jim Tartt was limited due to a shoulder injury.
EDGE: Miami

Florida's imposing 2008 defensive line was led by ends Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, who combined for 15.5 sacks 23.5 tackles for loss. How Cunningham and Dunlap perform against the 2008 Canes' talented offensive tackles could determine the outcome of the game on Saturday. Florida totaled 36 sacks in the 2008 season. Dunlap was named a defensive MVP of the 2009 BCS national championship game. Florida tackles Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders, Jaye Howard and Torrey Davis will play key roles against the 2001 Miami Hurricanes running game. Combined, Miami's top seven defensive linemen had 73 tackles for loss and 36 sacks in 2001. As a unit, Miami's defense totaled 42 sacks in 2001 but limiting Florida quarterback Tim Tebow will be a difficult challenge. Left tackle William Joseph led the Canes with 22 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Joseph earned third-team All-America honors from The Associated Press in 2008. Left end Jerome McDougle had seven sacks in 2008 and was another third-team All-America selection by The Associated Press. The 2001 Miami Hurricanes defensive line also featured standouts such as Vince Wilfork, Jamaal Green, Andrew Williams and Matt Walters, who turned in one of the 2001 season's most memorable plays against Boston College. Walters' deflection, interception and hand off to Ed Reed led to an 80-yard touchdown in the game's final seconds, sending Miami to the Rose Bowl.
EDGE: Miami

Miami sophomore middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma had some big shoes to fill in 2001 but did a solid job replacing all-everything linebacker Dan Morgan. Vilma led the Canes in tackles in 2001 with 87, including 23 tackles for loss, and developed into a playmaker throughout the season. An All-Big East first-team selection by the league's coaches in 2008, Vilma finished the season with three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one sack and one interception. Flanking Vilma against the 2008 Gators will be outside linebacker Chris Campbell and D.J. Williams. Florida middle linebacker Brandon Spikes was an All-American in 2008 and led the Gators with  93 tackles. He also had four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. Outside linebackers Ryan Stamper and Brandon Hicks provide the Gators with a combination of experience and speed.
EDGE: Florida

Florida sophomore cornerback Joe Haden blossomed into a talented coverman in 2008 and freshman Janoris Jenkins forced his way into the starting lineup with his aggressive play. Haden finished 2008 with 87 tackles and three interception and will likely defend Miami receiver Andre Johnson, another talented sophomore. Miami junior cornerback Phillip Buchanon was a first-team All-American in 2008, his final season with the Hurricanes. He had five interceptions and two forced fumbles that season. In Saturday's dream matchup against the Gators, Buchanon will attempt to limit Florida receiver Percy Harvin. Miami's other talented cornerback, Mike Rumph, will have his hands full against UF receiver Louis Murphy. Canes newcomer Antrell Rolle will be used as a nickelback.
EDGE: Miami

Miami safety Ed Reed might be the best player on the field of this dream matchup between the 2001 Canes and the 2008 Gators. Miami's secondary had 28 interceptions in 12 games, while Florida's secondary totaled 26 picks in 14 games. A major reason for the Canes superior passing defense was Reed, who intimidated opposing quarterbacks and finished the season with nine interceptions. Lining up with Reed in the Miami secondary will be senior James Lewis, a first-year starter who started the season at free safety before switching to strong safety. Florida features a pair of talented sophomore safeties. Major Wright is an aggressive tackler and opportunistic Ahmad Black is a solid tackler who had seven interceptions in 2001.
EDGE: Miami

Both teams will feature All-American kick returners. Phillip Buchanon has a long career ahead of him of returning kicks in the NFL and Florida's Brandon James was an All-American in 2008. Both players have the ability to return a kick for a touchdown. The 2008 Florida Gators blocked nine kicks, tying a school record. Miami (Ed Reed) blocked one kick.
EDGE: Florida

First-year Miami coach Larry Coker inherited a wealth of talent and has done well to keep the team focused in the wake of Butch Davis' exit for the NFL. Florida coach Urban Meyer has made a career out beating his teams' rivals and is considered one of the best college coaches of the past few years. He won two national titles in three years.
EDGE: Florida




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