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Troupe Talk: Florida-Miami Memories

By Ben Troupe
SouthernPigskin.com
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I grew up in Georgia, so playing at UF to me always came down to beating the ‘Dawgs in Jacksonville. Little did I know that I would get the opportunity to be a part of an in-state rivalry that would shape how I viewed college football.

I grew up in Georgia, so playing at UF to me always came down to beating the ‘Dawgs in Jacksonville. Little did I know that I would get the opportunity to be a part of an in-state rivalry that would shape how I viewed college football.

I first met Vince Wilfork back in 2000, in Atlanta for the Florida-Georgia High School All-Star game. Vince was a big boy back then, too. He was hard to move off the line, ate up double teams and was a man amongst boys even when he was still a young boy.

Anyway, I get to UF and we have a pretty good year in 2000. We even won the SEC. The only problem was we had to play Miami in the Sugar Bowl, where the infamous brawl on Canal Street went down. They saw us, we saw them, and we scrapped, but as soon as it started, it was over with. At least we tried to bring the fight to them on the streets of New Orleans because the game was a blowout.

They had Ed Reed at safety, Clinton Portis at RB, Dan Morgan at LB, Jeremy Shockey at TE, Vernon Carey at tackle, and the starting receivers were Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, and Andre Johnson. Crazy, right? Lets just say that's a game I'd like to forget.

Fast forward  to 2002 when Miami came to the Swamp and, unfortunately for Ron Zook in his first year as our head coach, it got ugly with a UM defense led by Jonathan Vilma and Sean Taylor and an offense that featured Willis Mcgahee and Kellen Winslow. Once again, that game got out of hand and we took a beating. To be fair, that's when Miami was Miami and those were some of the best teams that ever came through there.

Now, in ‘03 we played them in Miami and we came out firing. After Devin Hester ran back a kickoff, we bounced back and started scoring at will. The problem was, we went through three quarterbacks that day.

Thank God during the Urban Meyer era my Gators were able to get some revenge because these could have been some of the worst memories of my college career. Instead, it just made me realize how much I loved playing for Florida and how much the UF/UM rivalry means, not only to these two universities, but to college football.

It’s only fitting that the entire country get to watch two great schools with great traditions go head to head at a neutral site. My last time playing UM was a night game on ABC with Hall Of Famer Lynn Swann calling the game. I remember him actually coming up to me and saying he was looking forward to watching me play.

Keiwan Ratliff, one of the greatest DB’s in Florida and college history, who is a coach at UF right now, scooped up a fumble and pointed at Brock Berlin who transferred from Florida to Miami.

The Thorpe award in 2003 came down to Sean Taylor and Keiwan Ratliff but they gave it to Derek Strait of Oklahoma. The John Mackey Award was between myself, Kellen Winslow, and Kris Wilson of Pitt, and Winslow won it. That's neither here nor there, just showing how the players of both teams are interconnected. That's what UF-UM  means to college football and football in general.

Regardless of my memories, and they are great despite being on the losing end of this, I know how many great players, great plays, and great memories will be made when we renew this long awaited rivalry on Saturday and I’m blessed to have been a part of it.

Both sidelines will be star studded with a host of former great Canes and Gators and I can't wait.

Regardless of the outcome, I’m rocking with ‘Dem Boyz from Gainesville. College football is back baby. Let’s go.

Ben Troupe - Troupe played tight end for the Florida Gators from 2000-2003, and earned first-team All-SEC recognition and first-team All-American honors from ESPN, Rivals and Sports Illustrated as a senior. After a standout college career, Troupe was selected 40th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, the first pick of the Tennessee Titans that spring. Currently, Troupe is a representative for the NFL Ambassadors via the College Outreach Program and the USA Football Youth and High School Program while also serving as an assistant master trainer for Head's Up coaching initiative. Troupe can be heard on ESPN Coastal's "Three & Out" with B.J. Bennett and Kevin Thomas.