History and the Hurricanes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Sports Editor

The history will be evident as soon as the Troy State Trojans step on the field.

Troy State travels to Miami this Saturday to face the No. 1 Hurricanes in a stadium that’s seen its share of memorable moments in both college and professional football.

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The players; Ray Lewis, Steve Walsh, Michael Irving.

The coaches; Bobby Bowden, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer.

The teams; Nebraska, Oklahoma, Notre Dame.

And the games.

Orange Bowl Stadium has become hallowed ground for teams in search of a national championship. Prior to 1996, when the Orange Bowl Committee moved the New Year’s Day bowl game to Pro Player Stadium, the Orange Bowl had played host to eight of the previous 13 national title games.

The Hurricanes have played in their share of those contests. Since 1983 Miami has snapped win streaks of 10 or more games 10 times. Eight of those came against the No. 1 team in the nation, including twice each against Florida State and Oklahoma.

The Hurricanes won 58 straight games at the Orange Bowl between 1985-1994, an NCAA record. The streak lasted through three U.S. Presidents, two head football coaches and even Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Miami won three national titles (’83, ’87 and ’91), all in the Orange Bowl. The 1984 contest, played on Jan.2 between the Hurricanes and Nebraska, is thought by many to be the best college football game ever played. UM quarterback Bernie Kosar earned the MVP award with a 300-yard passing performance, knocking off the No. 1 Cornhuskers, 31-30.

Johnson took over the reigns following the ’83 season and was followed by Craig Erickson. Johnson, who moved on to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a world championship, beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl for his first national title and gave way to Erickson, who took titles in ’89, over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and two year’s later over Nebraska.

Johnson and Erickson’s career at Miami was marred by the national media’s perception of the Hurricanes as "renegades." Referred to often as the "Oakland Raiders of college football", the Miami teams of the late and early 90s, intimidated opponents with their physical style of play, and taunts after every score.

Despite the new perception of "Miami Nice", initiated by Erickson’s successor Butch Davis, Trojans’ head coach Larry Blakeney still views the Orange Bowl as an intimidating place to take a football team.

"They have as much of an ability to intimidate you as any team in the nation," he said. " But I expect our players to be able to handle any kind of crowd situation. I have never coached in the Orange Bowl, but I have played there back in ’67."’

Blakeney’s Auburn squad fell to the Hurricanes on that day, 7-0.

The Orange Bowl has also played host to five Super Bowls.