As Miami began to celebrate its biggest win in years, Hurricanes coach Al Golden threw his right arm skyward and sprinted over to the Florida sideline for the traditional postgame handshake.
He offered congratulations.
He probably could have offered thanks.
Stephen Morris threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to put Miami ahead, and Florida gave the ball away on four red-zone trips to make sure the Hurricanes stayed there. Miami knocked off the 12th-ranked Gators 21-16 on Saturday, almost certainly ensuring that the Hurricanes - dogged for the last 26 months by a still-unresolved NCAA probe - will return to the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2010.
"It's been such a hard road," Golden said. "We've just been battling this thing and obviously they're one of the teams they've been battling during this thing. I think you guys can figure that out. It was just a very cathartic moment. It was a great moment for our guys, all those guys that not only chose the University of Miami during this but stood there and fought."
Duke Johnson added a 2-yard touchdown run and a 21-9 lead with 3:29 left for Miami (2-0), which has won four straight dating back to last season, the longest such streak for the Hurricanes since 2008.
Jeff Driskel completed 22 of 33 passes for a career-best 291 yards and a late touchdown for Florida (1-1), which had gotten off to 2-0 starts in each of the previous eight seasons. But he had two interceptions, fumbled once and was stopped on a fourth-down try for another giveaway, all part of a messy effort by the Gators.
"It started with me," Driskel said. "I was careless with the ball."
The offensive numbers were ridiculously one-sided, in favor of the Gators. Florida outgained Miami 413-212, had a 22-10 edge in first downs, outran the Hurricanes 122-50, enjoyed nearly a 2-to-1 edge in time of possession and held Miami to an abysmal 1-for-11 effort on third-down chances.
And the Gators still lost, only blaming themselves afterward.
"You cannot keep shooting yourself in the foot, especially on the road," Florida coach Will Muschamp said.
Miami had 143 yards in the first quarter, averaging 7.9 yards per play. The rest of the way: 69 yards, 2.0 per play. It was Miami's lowest yardage total in a victory since Oct. 26, 1996, when the Hurricanes managed only 162 against then-No. 12 West Virginia.
"There was nothing easy on that field," Golden said. "For either team."
For Florida, that was particularly true when it got inside the Miami 20.
The one touchdown Florida had in the red zone was a gift, set up by a blocked punt in the first quarter. The other Florida trips deep into Miami territory ended thusly:
- Interception by Rayshawn Jenkins.
- Stopped on downs by Denzel Perryman and Olsen Pierre.
- Fumble by Trey Burton that was forced by Jimmy Gaines.
- Field goal