Miami went undefeated in the regular season for a second consecutive year. For the third consecutive year, the defacto National Championship game matched either Miami, Oklahoma and Penn State. This time the Sooners would try to do what they couldn’t the two previous seasons, beat Miami.
Had there been a playoff in 1987, it could have been messy. It was obvious Miami and OU were the two best teams, but who would have been the other two teams? Florida State was third and their only loss was to Miami, Syracuse was fourth and undefeated. It seems likely they would have been the other two teams.
Nebraska had only one loss, that came to Oklahoma in the second to last game of the regular season. LSU and Auburn had one loss and one tie. The likelihood is that it would have been Florida State and Syracuse. Based on the rankings Miami would have had to play FSU a second time and Oklahoma and the ‘Cuse would have played.
As it was, Miami and OU were set for another epic showdown. Oklahoma earned their bid to the Orange Bowl by going undefeated and winning the Big Eight and they would be matched with the only team that had defeated them in the two previous seasons.
Oklahoma traveled to South Florida with the Nation’s number-one ranking and a rushing offense that averaged 393 yards per game out of the wishbone. Miami mostly shut down the Sooners as Steve Walsh led the Hurricanes to their second National Championship in five seasons and Johnson’s first.