The Real King of the 305

The Golden Panthers celebrated all night on November 23 as what used to be labeled as “unthinkable” and “impossible” happened; the Florida International University Panthers took home the win after facing the University of Miami Hurricanes in a historic night at Marlins Park. 

In 2016, the two universities announced the renewal of their football rivalry for two games to come: one in 2018 and another to be played 2019. This would be the first time the two teams went head to head in 12 years.

Photo by Gary Rothstein/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

This hiatus was enacted due to the events that occurred on October 14, 2006 when the game between FIU and UM at the Orange Bowl resulted in a brawl ranging from the field to the stands. With nine minutes left until the fourth quarter, players on the field began “stomping on other player’s heads” and “swinging helmets” for five minutes straight as coached and officials struggled to break up the fight. After the incident, 31 players were suspended and the teams would be banned from playing each other for years to come. 

On September 22, 2018 UM beat FIU 31-17 at the at their home stadium, the Hard Rock. This year, when the teams met again FIU was ready to turn things around. 

After a relatively disappointing season for the Panthers with losses like 37-7 to Florida Atlantic University, 50-17 to Middle Tennessee State, and 42-14 to Tulane the FIU football players got booed on their way inside Marlins Park. Miami Hurricane fans were sure they were in for an easy win. 

Photo by Margi Rentis via FIU News

The FIU Football team and Coach Butch Davis proved everyone wrong that night, prevailing with a score of 30-24. Panthers took the lead early on, securing a score of 13-0 into halftime and forced three interceptions. 

Here is why this win is so important:

FIU went into the game as a 5-5 team and UM as a 6-4 team, meaning FIU had five losses and five wins while UM had six wins and four losses placing the odds and expectations in UM’s favor. This not only marks UM’s first loss in 4 years to a non-Power Five conference team, but it is “unquestionably the biggest win in FIU history” by beating five-time national champion (Furones, SunSentinel). UM Football coach Manny Diaz described the outcome as “Obviously a very, very dark night. One of the lowest points ever in this proud program’s history." 

Photo by Margi Rentis via FIU News

There is also the slight irony of Butch Davis, former UM football coach, beating his old team in the grounds of their former home, The Orange Bowl, that was demolished in 2008 and rebuilt as Marlins Park.

Described perfectly by Chuck Culpepper from The Washignton Post this is one of “those meaningless games of towering meaning” not only for FIU but the community of Miami-Dade. Growing up in Miami everybody dreams of attending UM and cheering on the Hurricanes. It is not only seen as a superior football team, but a superior school. Only 8 miles away from each other, Panthers now get to bask in the joy of proving they are present and they are here to make an impact in the community.