University of Miami’s Magic Football Team

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By Pat Ford – Photo Pat Ford

On October 29th, 2016 Miami had just erased a 20 point deficit and was leading Notre Dame 27-20 with 6:49 left to play.  Somehow ND scored 10 unanswered points it the last 6 minutes to win 30-27.  Notre Dame stumbled to a 4-9 season that year but Miami won the rest of it’s games and wound up 9-4.  Fast forward to Nov 11,2017. 

Notre Dame had lost one game to Georgia by one point, had shown an amazing offense with Josh Adams at running back, and was ranked 3rd in the nation.  Miami had quietly won every game since it’s loss to Notre Dane and was ranked 7th nationally.  Showdown time had arrived.

I began my photography career at Notre Dame in 1962.  I shot every Notre Dame game in the ’62-’64 time frame with a Pentax camera and a 135mm lens.  In my senior I upgraded to a 300 mm lens but all systems were still manual including focus.  I shot a few games for the Dolphins in 2013 and realized that I really love football photography.  My equipment consisted of two Canon 1Dx cameras and a 200-400 and a 70-200 lens…probably $30,000 in equipment strapped to my body.   It was a dream come true when I was offered a photographer’s pass to the 2017 Miami-Notre Dame game.

I arrived on the field hours early just to enjoy the atmosphere and watch the warm-ups.  I’d never shot a night game before and was not sure about the ISO and aperture settings but I did know that I needed 1/1000second shutter speed to stop the action.  As I was setting up, I met a student from Notre Dame with a small telephoto lens.  It turned out that she was a sophomore and was shooting for Notre Dame, who had evidently flown her to Miami for the game.  I told her that I had graduated in 1965 and done all the football photography while I was there.  We compared cameras a bit and talked about the team and I realized that this conversation was like someone from the class of 1912 coming up to me in 1962…not a lot to relate to except cameras and football.

Miami absolutely dominated Notre Dame in every phase of the football game.  I certainly didn’t see that coming…I thought it would be another nail-biter, like 2016.  It shot Miami up to #2 in the national rankings and Notre Dame down to #8.  I knew that whichever team won that game was moving on to big things…the better team won.  GO CANES!

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