Week 8 - Florida State at Miami

Trip Start Sep 01, 2012
Trip End Nov 26, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wow.  Where to begin.  This is one of the classic rivalries in college football.  It's not what it was in the 90's when both teams were consistently in contention for a national title, but the rivalry is still alive and well.   Also, since Miami plays in an NFL stadium instead of a university-owned stadium, they sell beer at the stadium.  Combine that with the 8pm start and the animosity between the two fan bases, and it all boils down to a raucous atmosphere unlike anything we've experienced so far.  When we found out that it was an 8pm start, we debated whether or not to bring Austin and Owen.  They did really great considering that we were way past their bedtime, but in retrospect we probably would have been better off not taking them to this particular game with a late start.  The boys did great throughout the whole game, but the crowd provided a less-than-ideal environment for children.  We also went to the game with Janell's brother Jason and her friend Felicia and her family, so we did have some good help.

Rating time:

Stadium - Sun Life Stadium does double-duty as the University of Miami stadium as well the home  of the Miami Dolphins.  It definitely has more of an NFL feel to it than a collegiate feel.  The architecture reminds me of a very large basketball arena.  It is basically a big bowl with no character.  All the seats had backs vs. bleachers, which is a plus.  The views of the field were unobstructed.  The entrance to the stadium normally isn't worth mentioning, but in this case it was memorable.  Everybody was yelling, most people were drunk from tailgating all day, and it was very chaotic.  We found ourselves in a big, hot, sweaty mob trying to get through the bag check, the wand metal detector, and the ticket checkers.  It was impossible to keep together, so Janell and Jason each picked up a kid and Janell handed out tickets to ensure that we all got through the gate.  It was the craziest entrance to a stadium either of us had ever experienced. Rating - 5 of 10.

Tailgating - We were in the cash lot in the parking lot across the street from the stadium, and we were able to secure a parking spot next to a grassy median.  It seemed like a fairly normal tailgate in our area.  There weren't a lot of people grilling like we've seen most other places, but people were sitting around enjoying a few beers and tossing footballs.  When we crossed the road to the main parking lots, everything changed.  It was more of a street party than a tailgate.  There was hip-hop music blaring everywhere.  People were very drunk, and we smelled some wacky tobacky in two different areas.   It was pretty nuts.  There are two complaints about the tailgating set up.  There were not nearly enough porta-potties, and people had to choose between standing in long lines or sneaking into the woods.  The other complaint is that there were guys riding bicycle taxis giving people rides to the stadium.  This would seem like a plus, but they were riding very fast along the sidewalks in front of the few porta-potties they did have.  Austin nearly got clipped coming out of the bathroom.    Rating - 6 of 10. 

The Game -  Florida State rolled into this game with a 6-1 record and visions of an ACC title and a BCS berth.  Miami was struggling to stay above .500 with a 4-3 record.  But, this is FSU-Miami, and anything can happen.  The Miami media director wasted no time reminding everybody about what can happen by showing all of the infamous "Wide Rights" during the pregame introductions.  The game certainly started off with everything going Miami's way.  Florida State handed Miami fantastic field position twice to start the game through a fumble when the tight end tried to hurdle a tackler and terribly short punt, which enabled Miami to jump out to a 10-0 lead.  Florida State settled down, though and went into halftime ahead 13-10.  After trading field goals in the 3rd quarter, Florida State opened it up in the 4th to put it out of reach with a score of 33-13.  Miami scored their last touchdown in an empty stadium to close out the game with a 33-20 Florida State win.  Rating - 7 of 10.

The Band - The Miami band is the smallest of any FBS band we've seen so far.  They had just over 100 band members.  I know that because they stood still long enough for me to count them.  Twice.   Their formations were unimaginative, and their marching was uncomplicated.  They ran to their spots most of the time, and they stood and played quite a bit.  They also miked the band and pumped it through the stadium speakers.  Very unimpressive.  Rating - 2 of 10.

There was a bit of drama around the Florida State Marching Chiefs.  The entire band was supposed to travel to the game and march at halftime.  However, due to some unforeseen (and unknown by us) circumstances, they found out a few days before the game that they were only allowed to bring a "small" pep band of around 275 members.  After watching the Miami band perform compared to what we saw at Florida State last week, I can understand why they didn't want the FSU band marching at halftime.  Since they didn't march, there is no rating for the FSU band this week.

Fans - Sportsmanship was definitely not on full display for this game.  The Miami fans were taunting the Florida State fans all during the first quarter as Miami was building a 10 point lead.  This was not an isolated incident.  They did a good job of making a lot of noise during important Florida State offensive plays, but not so good at being quiet during their own offensive series.  The Miami fans were pretty much just loud.   They were very loud coming into the stadium, very loud in the concession area, very loud in the bathroom, and very loud in the stands.   One fan ran onto the field and was rewarded by getting decked by a security guard and arrested.  There is certainly a downside to serving alcohol at a game.  By halftime, one of the sinks in the men's bathroom near us was full of vomit.  By the end of the game, another sink had suffered a similar fate.  That's a fun one to explain to a five-year-old.  There was also a decent amount of pushing and shoving going on near the beer sales areas.  The good news was that stadium was starting to clear out when Florida State pulled ahead by 13 points in the 4th quarter, and it was nearly devoid of Miami fans when Florida State pulled ahead by 20 points.

The rating this week is specifically for the Miami fans, but the Florida State fans weren't much better.  There was a lot of ugliness from people wearing both colors.  Rating - 2 of 10.

One-Time-Rating: Worst Fan I've Ever Encountered - After all the descriptions about the Miami fans, one would expect this section to feature one of them.  However, it was a Florida State fan that earns this honor.  This guy was visibly drunk when he took his seat...next to Jason.  He and his wife had brought in their own liquor, even though they served at the game.  He was buying soda and pouring it into his own liquor-filled cup, and ended up spilling some on the nine-year-old girl in front of him.  He then chucked his empty stadium cup at a group of Miami fans sitting about 15 rows below us and made fun of them because they couldn't figure out who threw it.  He had zero sense of where his space began and ended, and he kept repeatedly bumping Jason with his elbow and shoulder.  He started yelling at the other Florida State fans around him, and the guy with the nine-year-old ended up leaving in the third quarter.  He then got into it with a man wearing glasses two rows behind us, and threatened to knock his glasses off in between some anti-Semetic insults.
I'm posting his picture here in the hopes that he somehow sees this and takes a good look in the mirror.

Best Player - The Florida State defense did very well, but it was hard to pick a standout player.   The kicker for the Seminoles had a good game as well with four field goals, but it's hard to pick a kicker when they also scored three touchdowns.  The player of this game goes to Devanta Freeman, who rushed for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns in relief of Chris Thompson, who left with an injury in the first half.

Overall - This is definitely the most unique atmosphere in college football.  It wasn't quaint or tradition rich.  It wasn't a bunch of older alumni supporting their school.  It certainly wasn't a family-friendly affair.  This game was, simply put, a frat party with a pretty decent football game between two bitter rivals in the middle of it.  It was also 82 degrees at midnight.  Rating - 6 of 10.
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