1983 (11-1-0): The Miracle In Miami

Less than a decade removed from a period of uncertainty in which there was open talk of dropping the football program, the University of Miami Hurricanes stunned the college football world by defeating the top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, 31-30, in the 1984 Orange Bowl Classic on January 1, 1984.

The victory was monumental – for UM football and for college football in general. Monumental not only because the Cornhuskers were widely considered to be among the most powerful teams in college football history, but also it heralded the dawn of a new dynasty in the sport from a program that had been all but dead just a few short years earlier. That victory – combined with losses by second-ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl and Illinois in the Rose Bowl – vaulted the Hurricanes into the top spot in the final national rankings.

“It’s unlikely that any team in the history of college football ever got higher for a game than Miami did for Nebraska,” wrote John Underwood of Sports Illustrated. “And if you missed Monday night’s game, you missed an emergence … Down went Nebraska’s 22-game winning streak, and up went the burgee of a team that may well be the next great name in the game.”

This was the first national title team without a single player making an All-America first team voted by AP, UPI, the Football Writers Association or the College Football Coaches Association.

One of the keys was a melting pot offensive line – a Canadian (center Ian Sinclair), a Cuban-American (guard Juan Comendeiro), an African-American (guard Alvin Ward), an Italian-American (tackle Paul Bertucelli) and an Irish-American (tackle Dave Heffernan).

Miami was only the second national title team to gain more passing yards than rushing yards.

“It’s a tribute to a lot of gutty players and a real team effort,” said head coach Howard Schnellenberger. “We’ve got a lot of overachievers on our team – or else there has been a poor job of selection done by the All-American selectors.”

1983 (11-1-0)
Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger

Date UM Rank Opponent Result Score
Sept. 3 at (7) Florida L 3-28
Sept. 10 at Houston W 29-7
Sept. 17 Purdue W 35-0
Sept. 24 (13) Notre Dame W 20-0
Oct. 1 15 at Duke W 56-17
Oct. 8 12 Louisville W 42-14
Oct. 15 10 at Mississippi St. W 31-7
Oct. 22 8 at Cincinnati W 17-7
Oct. 29 7 (12) West Virginia W 20-3
Nov. 5 5 East Carolina W 12-7
Nov. 12 6 at Florida State W 17-16
Jan. 2 5 *vs. (1) Nebraska W 31-30

*Orange Bowl Classic, Miami

Starting Lineup
WR – Eddie Brown
OT – Paul Bertucelli
OG – Juan Comendeiro
C – Ian Sinclair
OG – Alvin Ward
OT – Dave Heffernan
TE – Glenn Dennison
QB – Bernie Kosar
FB – Albert Bentley
HB – Keith Griffin
WR – Stanley Shakespeare

DE – Danny Brown
RT – Kevin Fagan
MG – Tony Fitzpatrick
LT – Fred Robinson
DE – Julio Cortes
LB – Jay Brophy
LB – Ken Sisk
SC – Rodney Bellinger
QC – Reggie Sutton
R – Kenny Calhoun
FS – Eddie Williams

PK – Jeff Davis
P – Rick Tuten
LS – Bruce Fleming
HOL – Rick Tuten
PR – Eddie Brown
KOR – Reggie Sutton

Coaching Staff
Head Coach
Howard Schnellenberger
Assistant Coaches
Hubbard Alexander, tight ends
Harold Allen, defensive line
Mike Archer, defensive backs
Joe Brodsky, running backs
Tom Olivadotti, defensive coordinator/linebackers
Mike Rodriguez, offensive line
Gary Stevens, offensive coordinator/receivers
Marc Trestman, quarterbacks
Bill Trout, defensive ends
Christ Vagotis, offensive line
Art Kehoe, graduate assistant

1983 Statistical Leaders

Att. Yards Avg. TD LP
Bentley 144 722 5.0 5 60
Griffin 101 447 4.4 0 20
A-C-I Yards Pct. TD LP
Kosar 327-201-13 2329 61.5 15 73
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
Dennison 54 594 11.0 25 3
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
Calhoun 3 92 30.7 1 92
No. Yards Avg. I20 LG
Tuten 50 2008 41.2 14 52
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
Brown 31 143 4.6 0 26
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
Sutton 14 331 23.6 0 40
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Total
Davis 1-1 3-3 6-6 1-7 0-3 11-20