Miami Football: Rivalry in the making vs. Clemson

Looking into this week’s primetime matchup featuring the Miami football and Clemson, I was looking for some spark that made this particular game something special. Coming into Saturday night’s meeting, these two teams played each other 11 times between 1945 and 2017.

Can a game between two teams that played that few times even be called a rivalry? At first it’s hard to believe but looking back on it I think so.

Take the Battle of the Belt with South Alabama vs. Troy, which only played eight times. My personal favorite “The war on I-4” between UCF and USF has only been played 11 times, and what an exciting rivalry it is. But the word rivalry hasn’t ever been used to describe Miami vs. Clemson, and I don’t think it will. Yet.

The History

Back in 1945, neither Clemson or Miami was even considered top teams of college football. Man, how times have changed. But neither team was nationally ranked leading into their late-season matchup in 1945. The Hurricanes won 7-6 to advance to their second Orange Bowl.

The two teams didn’t face each other until six years later in the Orange Bowl, Miami’s third orange bowl appearance since 1946 and all three appearances were with three different head coaches. This time around both teams were in the AP polls together at the end of the season for the first time with Clemson coming in at No. 10 and Miami at No. 15. Neither team was very respected at the time. Yet.

A year later, the two met at the end of the season for the Gator Bowl where Miami beat the Tigers 14-0. In 1953, Miami and Clemson saw each other for the third year in a row in a not so thrilling 39-7 Hurricanes win in Miami.

After facing off again in 1956, college football fans had to wait a half a century later before their next meeting in 2004, a Miami 24-17 loss to put the series to 4-2 in favor of Miami. In the following year in 2005, the Hurricanes met Clemson in South Carolina where the Tigers added the win for a 36-30 victory over the Canes.

Their next meeting in 2009 evened the series as Clemson upset the Hurricanes 40-37 to start off the Dabo Swinney era. That didn’t stop the Canes from taking a 5-4 series lead a year later in 2010 with a 30-21 win over the Tigers.

Unfortunately the two teams didn’t face off until five years later in Miami Gardens where Clemson came and embarrassingly demolished the Hurricanes 58-0. Cue the dark cloud hovering over the Miami football program this day, the 58-0 loss to Clemson would be Miami’s worst loss in program history and the loudest chants coming from the 45,000-plus in attendance was “Fire Golden” and ultimately led to the fire of head coach Al Golden.

Two years later, there looked to be a silver lining for Miami under new leadership of Mark Richt. This team had national recognition with everyone screaming “Miami is back.” Before losing to Pitt the game before, Miami was ranked No. 2 and went to the 2017 ACC Championship game ranked seventh ready to face the top-ranked Tigers and would absolutely get destroyed 38-3.

So, Is this a rivalry? You tell me.