CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) - A major matchup between the University of Miami and Notre Dame is just one day away, and as they wait for the highly anticipated game, Canes fans are stocking up on gear, including an iconic piece of bling.
The stakes will be high when the Fighting Irish come to South Florida, which hasn’t happened since 1989. ESPN’s College GameDay is all set for Saturday’s game.
The mood at UM’s Coral Gables campus, Friday night, made it clear there was no calm before the storm. “This is the craziest I’ve ever seen campus,” said one student.
“I’ve never felt such electricity before,” said another student.
Meanwhile, over on South Beach, a group representing Notre Dame came together to party before the game that’s been nearly three decades in the making.
Even Wynwood tipped its hat to the hurricanes — in the form of a mural honoring “The U.”
Earlier on Friday, crews were working on the ESPN show’s set Thursday morning at the Coral Gables UM campus.
UM students and GameDay guests are pumped up about the game. “This is a beautiful campus. I know that the students are really excited about the way their team is playing, so this is an opportunity to come out and showcase it,” said Rece Davis, ESPN College GameDay host. “Maybe rock a turnover chain or two and have some fun.”
The showdown marks the first Saturday ‘Canes game GameDay has covered in South Florida since 2001.
The show’s host and crew are excited to have the show in our Miami weather. “We’re happy to be back, and I think with the direction of the program now, I would expect that we will be back quite a bit in the near future,” said GameDay producer Chris “Bear” Fallica.
Talia Boinagin, a UM law student, doesn’t believe Notre Dame will break UM’s streak. “I have a ton of confidence in the Canes. We’ve been having a great season, and I really think we have a good chance,” she said. “We’re gonna win. We’re gonna have a great time, and it’s gonna be fun.”
Fans also stocked up on Canes gear as the excitement continues to grow by the minute.
“Oh, we are very excited for this game,” said one fan. “Go Canes, baby!”
“This is what we live for,” said another.
Nearly everyone is celebrating the orange and green with some serious bling in the form of replicas of the turnover chain. The real deal is five and a half pounds of solid gold, jewel-studded, pure Miami swag.
The unique piece made its debut at Miami’s season opener against Bethune-Cookman in September. Since then, it’s gained popularity. “The turnover chain just exemplifies Miami,” said former Hurricane D.J. Williams.
Whichever player manages to recover a turnover, whether it be a fumble or an interception, is awarded the Cuban link as he walks off the field. He also gets to flaunt it for the crowd and the world to see.
The idea came from Manny Diaz, Jr., UM’s defensive coordinator. “It was a communal effort of our staff, like a lot of things,” he said. “We have a great defensive staff, and we were trying to figure out what was the most Miami thing you can have that we can bring out, and it might have been Coach Rump, somebody said, ‘Hey, a Cuban link.'”
The chain was made right here in South Florida, at AJ’s Jewelry in Cutler Bay. UM’s Athletic Department reached out to the owner over the summer with a special request.
“They called us and wanted to bring back the swag to Miami,” said store owner A.J. Machado.
Machado is a big UM fan and said he feels a sense of pride whenever the chain appears on TV. “It’s great. We watched the game last week,” he said. “We were in the store when the turnover came out. The employees were jumping up and down.”
And with a perfect season so far, Machado said his chain may just be the secret sauce. “I feel like everybody’s running to the ball more. They want to go, and they want to put that chain on,” he said.
ESPN’s GameDay will be underway at 9 a.m., but the students on campus are being told that they can start arriving to the Donna E. Shalala Student Center as early as 5 a.m. for the pre-game.
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