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Miami's 34-game Winning Streak A Feat Worth Noting

Dec. 30, 2002

34-Game Winning Streak

By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer

PHOENIX (AP) – As Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey points out, it’s hard enoughwinning one game, let alone 34 in a row.

The Hurricanes have been unbeatable for nearly three years, building astreak that equals the sixth longest in major college history.

“There are very smart coaches and very good players throughout thecountry,” Dorsey said as top-ranked Miami prepared to play No. 2 Ohio State onFriday night. “So I think it’s difficult to win football games any time, nomatter who you’re playing.”

With a victory over the Buckeyes (13-0) in the Fiesta Bowl, the Hurricanes(12-0) would become the second team since 1979 to win back-to-back nationaltitles.

And it would set the stage for them to challenge Oklahoma’s record 47-gamewinning streak from 1953-57. If Miami doesn’t lose, the Hurricanes would equalthe Sooners’ record in the final game of the regular season.

The streak is even more impressive in these days of parity that have seenpowerhouses such as Florida State and Nebraska lose much more than usual.

“It is pretty neat, but it’s Miami football, and Miami football has beengreat for so long,” All-American center Brett Romberg said. “We did have alittle down period for a couple of years, but it’s just a matter of reloadingwith the players we have now. We’re not in a rebuilding stage anymore.”

This will be the fifth time Miami has a chance to repeat as nationalchampions. The first four attempts failed.

“The pressure’s on a little bit because we know that no Miami team hasrepeated,” left guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli said. “I’m sure that race cardrivers, when they’re leading on that last lap, they’re extra focused to notmake any mistakes, skid out and hit the wall, and suddenly lose. You’re in thelead, you’re in the final lap, you just have to bear down and focus.Definitely, it’s in the back of our mind that this could be two championshipsin a row, and that would be a tremendous accomplishment.”

Streaks are nothing new at Miami. There was an NCAA-record 58-game homewinning streak from 1985-94, and a 29-game winning streak from 1990-93.

The current streak began with a 47-10 victory at West Virginia on Sept. 24,2000, two weeks after a 34-29 loss at Washington. Ten more wins followed,including a 37-20 victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl and a No. 2 finish inthe AP media poll.

Last season, Larry Coker replaced Butch Davis as coach and the Hurricaneswon 12 more games and a national title.

“Miami is an extraordinary team,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.”They play the game like you would hope that people do. It’s not a surprisethat they are undefeated for 30-some games, but on the other hand, if you sitback and think about that, that type of a record, you marvel at it.

“When you’re playing against a first-class team, it’s exciting for you. Youhope that in itself raises your level of play.”

Only five major teams have won more consecutive games, and three did itbefore World War I. Following Oklahoma’s 47-game streak, Washington won 39 in arow from 1908-14, Yale twice won 37 straight in the 19th century, and Toledowon 35 straight from 1969-71.

There hasn’t been much fanfare about Miami’s streak, but safety MauriceSikes has an idea why.

“Nobody likes anybody to be on top for so long, they always want to seesomething new,” Sikes said. “But we kind of built something around here thatwe feel special about. Nobody has to like us, but we’re going to go ahead andkeep winning.”

During the streak, Miami has beaten opponents by an average score of 42-17,with 12 victories against Top 25 teams, including five Top 10 teams.

Not every win was overpowering. The streak nearly ended Oct. 12 againstFlorida State. Dorsey led Miami to two touchdowns in the final nine minutes fora 28-27 win, secured only after Xavier Beitia’s 43-yard field goal try was wideleft on the final play.

The close call gave Miami renewed confidence it could win even on a bad day.

“I think we will keep winning football games, and the 34-game win streakwill go to 35, then hopefully next year go to 47,” Romberg said, “And justkeep going and going.”