Miami football dynasty foundation made in Orange Bowl Game

MIAMI - DECEMBER 4: (Photo by Jerry Driendl/Getty Images)
MIAMI - DECEMBER 4: (Photo by Jerry Driendl/Getty Images) /

When the Miami football team defeated Nebraska 31-30 to win its first National Championship in the 1984 Orange Bowl game, the Hurricanes began a run of four titles in nine seasons. Three of those four titles came in the Orange Bowl. The win in 1984 was the fourth time Miami played in the Orange Bowl.

Miami lost 26-0 to Bucknell in the inaugural Orange Bowl game on January 1, 1935. Miami would not return to the Orange Bowl until defeating Holy Cross 13-6 on an interception return for a touchdown on the final play in 1946. Clemson defeated Miami 15-14 in the Hurricanes’ third Orange Bowl game in 1951.

After the 1951 Orange Bowl Miami played in six bowl games but did not earn an Orange Bowl berth until the 1984 game versus Nebraska. All the attention was on 11-0 Nebraska entering the 1984 Orange Bowl. The consensus analysis was that the 1983 Cornhuskers were the best team in college football history.

The Miami football team took a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Nebraska rallied to cut the deficit to 17-14 at halftime and a third-quarter field goal tied the game. Miami surged ahead with two touchdowns following the Nebraska game-tying field goal and the Hurricanes went to the fourth quarter with a 31-17 lead.

Nebraska rallied again. A 24-yard TD run by backup running back Jeff Smith brought the Cornhuskers to 31-30 with 48 seconds remaining. Miami defensive back Kenny Calhoun batted away the two-point conversion attempt and Miami won its first national championship on its home field.

Howard Schnellenberger delivered on his promise exactly to win a national championship in five years. Jimmy Johnson replaced Schellenberger who left after the 1983 championship. Miami was in position to win national championships in Johnson’s second and third seasons but lost in the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls.

After an 11-0 regular season in 1987, Miami earned a berth in the Orange Bowl. Number two Miami was matched up against number one Oklahoma who was also 11-0 during the 1987 regular season. Miami gave Oklahoma its only losses during the 1985 and 1986 seasons.

Miami scored on its first drive but did not score again in the first half. Oklahoma tied the score with a second-quarter TD. Two long Greg Cox field goals were sandwiched around a Steve Walsh to Michael Irvin TD pass to give Miami a 20-7 lead in the fourth quarter. A late Oklahoma TD was too late.

Miami won 20-14 and as Don Criqui the announcer for NBC said as the Hurricanes hoisted Jimmy Johnson and carried him off the field “the demons are gone.” Miami earned its second national title in four years. Oklahoma finished 33-3 from 1985 to 1987 with all three losses against Miami.

Miami won its third national championship in 1989 with a victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl under Dennis Erickson in his first season at Miami. In 1990 Miami lost two games in the regular season for the first time since Johnson’s inaugural year with the Hurricanes in 1984. Three Miami titles in seven years under three coaches.

Miami completed its first undefeated regular season in 1991 since the 1987 national championship year. Nebraska brought the best rushing offense in college football averaging 353.2 yards per game. Miami held Nebraska to 78 rushing yards and gave Nebraska its first shutout in 221 games since 1973.

Next. Orange Bowl was Miami football field of dreams. dark

The Hurricanes won 22-0 and earned their fourth national championship in nine years and second in three seasons under Erickson. Miami defeating Nebraska cemented the Hurricanes as the best program in college football during that era. Miami would defeat Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl for their fifth national title.