1983 Orange Bowl - Miami vs Nebraska

Go Big Red !

 Miami,Florida 1983

To fully appreciate how amazing this game was, you have to look at just how dominating the Nebraska Cornhuskers were in 1983. They began their season beating up defending national champion Penn State 44-6 in the Kickoff Classic. After a 56-20 pummeling of Wyoming, they went into the Metrodome in Minnesota and scored 21 point in each quarter to beat the Gophers 84-13. They punished UCLA 42-10 and Syracuse 63-7 before surviving their only real scare against Oklahoma State 14-10. They would score 69 against Colorado, 51 at Kansas State, 72 against Iowa State, and 67 against Kansas before beating Marcus Dupree and Oklahoma 28-21. Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne was trying to win his first national title to get out from under the shadow of former head coach Bob Devaney. He had a wizard at quarterback in Turner Gill, the Heisman Trophy winner in Mike Rozier, the future #1 pick in the NFL draft in WR Irving Fryar, an amazing offensive line with Dean Steinkuhler, and an aura of invincibility. Miami had a 6'5", 205-pound freshman quarterback. The Hurricanes began the season unranked and were spanked 28-3 in their opening game against #7 Florida. They then went on a tear beating Houston 29-7, Purdue 35-0 and #13 Notre Dame 20-0. They slowly climbed their way up the charts with wins over Duke (56-17), Louisville (42-14), and Mississippi State (31-7) before closing out the season with three straight tough wins over West Virginia (20-3), East Carolina (12-7), and Florida State (17-16) to finish the regular season ranked #4. By the time the 50th Orange Bowl rolled around on New Year's night, Texas was upset in the Cotton Bowl by Georgia while #3 Auburn squeaked by an average Michigan team 9-7 in the Sugar Bowl. Miami was now in the game for the national title. The Huskers got the ball first and set the tone early as Rozier tore off a 28-yard run, the longest of the season against the Hurricane defense followed up by a 17-yard run. The Cane defense held tough as the Huskers were forced to try a field goal (they had only attempted four during the season) but Miami blocked it and gave them some early confidence. On the first offensive play of the game, the young Kosar proved he wasn't fazed by the pressure hitting Stanley Shakespeare down to the Husker 35. This would be telling as Kosar was razor sharp the whole first half. Kosar fired another strike to Shakespeare to get down to the two yard line. On third and goal, Kosar hit TE Glenn Dennison for a touchdown and a shocking early 7-0 lead. The Canes would hold the Huskers three and out on the following series. Jeff Davis nailed a 45-yard field goal on their following possession. To show it'd be Miami's night, it was his second made field goal in ten attempts from beyond 40 yards. Nebraska would keep shooting themselves in the foot as Gill, who held the record for lowest interception ratio in NCAA history, threw a pick to stall a drive at midfield. Kosar went back to work as he hit Eddie Brown for a touchdown, but it was called back to the 20 due to a clip. No matter as Kosar threw a laser to Dennison to take an improbable 17-0 lead over the heavily favored Huskers. With the Orange Bowl crowd going wild, the Hurricanes were celebrating on the sidelines...but it was only the end of the first quarter. Kosar in the first quarter: 8 for 14 for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Following a Dave Burke interception of Kosar, the Husker slowly and methodically drove down the field until they faced a 3rd and 5 on the Miami 19. Then Osborne reached into his bag of tricks for the Fumblerooski. Gill took the snapped a ran down the right side of the offense looking to pitch the ball. The Hurricane defense obviously followed him. But Gill intentionally dropped the ball and let it lie on the turf after the snap which was picked up by the Outland and Lombardi Trophy winning Steinkuhler who rumbled in for the shocking touchdown to put the Huskers right back in the game. What guts! If Miami recovers the fumble, how badly would they have roasted Osborne? The Huskers kept marching as they calmly got back into the game utilizing Rozier, Fryar, and the rushing of Gill who punched it in from one-yard out to pull to within three. the drive took 10 plays and went for 64 yards. The second half began as the Hurricanes turned the ball over when Burke recovered a Keith Griffin (Archie's brother) fumble leading to a Husker game-tying field goal. At this point, it appeared the run of the Hurricanes was over. Nebraska weathered the early storm and now the just needed to play their type of football to win the national title. But Kosar wouldn't let that happen. Kosar led them right back down the field, helped by a pass interference penalty in the end zone, to retake the lead on an Alonzo Highsmth one-yard touchdown run. Hurricane kicker Jeff Davis' extra point hit the upright and bounced in. Remember, the goalposts were wider back in 1984. Little did anyone know this would be an extremely important break. On their next possession, Kosar's arm and the running of Griffin got them down to the Husker 7. On first and goal, the Hurricanes would take the lead, for good as it turned out, when Albert Bentley took it right up the middle as the Hurricanes went up 31-17. The Hurricanes had gone 73 yards in 6 plays and once again, they were celebrating on the sidelines. Once again, it would be very premature. The Huskers would suffer a setback on their next drive when Rozier was lost for the game when he suffered a severely sprained left ankle on a reverse. To that point, he carried the ball 25 times for 147 yards but now, he was effectively out for the game. This is Nebraska. They have replacements. Jeff Smith stepped in at running back and promptly took a pitch 40 yards down to the Miami one-yard line only to fumble it away. The fourth quarter had been Miami's all season long as they only allowed 10 points in the final period. After a brilliant pass breakup in the end zone by Reggie Sutton and a sack by Kevin Fagan, Nebraska's Scott Livingston attempted a 47-yard field goal but it was hooked wide left and short (and looked EXACTLY like the missed Husker field goal at the end of the 1994 Orange Bowl against Florida State.) They'd score a touchdown on their next possession when Smith ran it in from a yard out with 6:55 to play. Down 31-23, the Huskers kicked the extra point. Miami answered as took the ball down the field and were in a position to put the game away but Davis missed a field goal that would've put them up be 10. But the Hurricanes did a great job of taking time off the clock as the Huskers were getting the ball back with 1:47 to play. Here came the Huskers. Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill was having an average game. He was being outplayed by Kosar but Gill wasn't getting much help as his all-everything receiver Irving Fryar was nowhere to be found. On first down on their own 26, Gill threw a strike to Fryar who cut up the field and took it 29 yards before being brought down on a last gasp tackle by Sutton. With 1:12 to play on the Miami 25, Gill threw another perfect pass to a wide open Fryar in the end zone who dropped it and then collapsed in the end zone. If the Huskers didn't end up scoring, it would've been one of the most heartbreaking plays in Husker history. On the following play, Gill fumbled the ball when he was hit but Steinkuhler picked it up and rumbled for positive yards. Fourth down and eight on the Miami 29. What followed might have been the most forgotten spectacular play in college football history. With fourth down and the national championship to go and the Miami home Orange Bowl crowd going crazy. Gill calmly ran the option to the right, at the last possible nanosecond he pitched the ball away to a streaking Jeff Smith who tore up the right sideline then dove into the end zone to pull the Huskers to within one. Without hesitation on the sideline, Osborne decided to go for two. With no overtime, if they kicked the extra point, it would've been doubtful if there was a voter in America that wouldn't have voted Nebraska the national champions. Instead, they lined up on the left hashmark. "This is for the national championship for Nebraska," proclaimed NBC announcer Don Criqui as Gill rolled out right and fired it incomplete trying to hit Smith at the goal line. He fired it outside to Smith when he had Fryar open a few feet to Smith's left had he looked inside. On the ensuing onsides kick, Miami recovered and won the national title.



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