How Miami football 1983 National Championship stunted FSU’s rise

3 Jan 2002: DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images
3 Jan 2002: DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images /
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The 1981 season included a 17-14 upset over number one Penn State at the Orange Bowl that was followed by a 27-19 victory at Florida State. Miami lost 14-7 at Texas and 14-10 at Mississippi State or the Hurricanes would’ve had their first undefeated season. Miami won their last six games of the 1981 season.

The Hurricanes regressed to 7-4 in 1982 and did not play in a bowl game. Miami missed quarterback Jim Kelly who battled injuries throughout his 1982 senior season.

Future Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt led Miami in passing during the 1982 season. The 1983 season brought Miami to national prominence.

After losing the season opener 28-3 to Florida, Miami won their last 10 games of the 1983 regular season. The Hurricanes rolled into the Orange Bowl as the nation’s fifth-ranked team.

Miami seemed to have a herculean task of undefeated top-ranked Nebraska who was dubbed as the best team in college football history.

Upsets of number two Texas and number four Illinois and a lackluster 9-3 victory by number three Auburn set up Miami with a chance to earn a national championship with a victory in the Orange Bowl. The 31-30 Hurricanes upset over the Cornhuskers is one of the biggest and most iconic in college football history.

Miami’s victory launched a dynasty. Schnellenberger left following the 1983 season to become the head coach of the Miami team in the United States Football League that never materialized. Jimmy Johnson was hired from Oklahoma State as Schnellenberger’s successor. Miami went 8-5 in Johnson’s first season in 1985.

Beginning in 1985, Miami dominated. In the last four seasons of the Johnson tenure, Miami went 44-4. The Hurricanes had chances to win the national championship with victories in their bowl games in 1985 and 1986 but lost to Tennessee in the Sugar and Penn State in the Fiesta.