Tom Orborne’s got the stones
In 1984: The upstart Miami Hurricanes shocked heavily favored and previously undefeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to win the national title. The Huskers were an unstoppable force in 1983, piling up record amounts of points and yards behind All-Americans Mike Rozier and Irving Fryar. The Hurricanes (the only team to win a national title with zero All-Americans) jumped out early, however, and led 17-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Cornhuskers came back to tie the score before Miami opened up a 31-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Nebraska, which had scored over 600 points in the regular season, made a stirring comeback. With under a minute remaining, quarterback Turner Gill flipped the ball to Jeff Smith (who had replaced an injured Rozier) on an option to score a touchdown to make it 31-30. Coach Tom Osborne could have gone for the tie and locked away the national championship. But in one of the ballsiest moves ever, he decided to go for two and the outright win. Gill’s pass was deflected away by Miami’s Kelly Calhoun, and instead of Nebraska cementing their legacy as one of the greatest teams ever, Miami’s dynasty had begun.
In 1987: A few years later in the Fiesta Bowl, the tables were turned on the Hurricanes in the 1986 national title game against Penn State. Coming in undefeated and unchallenged (they had whipped no. 2 Oklahoma earlier in the year) Miami had a smothering defense and a dynamic offense led by Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Vinny Testaverde. Penn State relied on a clock-swallowing running game and a physical defense to hold the Hurricanes down 14-10 for the upset. Two untimely Testaverde interceptions (and you wondered where they came from?) ultimately doomed Miami’s chances.
In 2003: Miami’s run of bad luck in the Fiesta Bowl (they have lost all four times they played there) continued, this one in heart-wrenching fashion. The teams battled to a 17-17 tie at the end of regulation, and Miami scored in the first OT to make it 24-17. Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel threw a desperation fourth-down pass that fell incomplete, prompting a wild celebration by the Hurricanes and their fans. A very controversial late flag flew (by about 4 seconds) and pass interference was called against the Miami defender. Ohio State was given new life, and they were able to take advantage and tie the game and eventually win it in the second overtime, 31-24. Miami felt they were robbed of their second straight national title and the Buckeyes won their first crown since 1968.