As the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes play a No. 1 team for the first time since 2017 on Saturday night at Clemson, here’s a look back at UM’s history against top-ranked teams.
UM, of course, lost that 2017 showdown against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, 38-3, but over the past 40 years, the Hurricanes are 9-5 entering Saturday when facing off with No. 1, including some of the greatest victories in program history.
The last such victory: When the 2000 team topped Florida State, 27-24, at the Orange Bowl on Oct. 7, 2000. It would become known as “Wide Right III” when Seminoles kicker Matt Munyon missed the game-tying 49-yard field goal attempt.
The Hurricanes, with an early loss at Washington that season, also beat No. 2 Virginia Tech weeks later, but, at season’s end, FSU was still selected to face No. 1 Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship Game, which was the Orange Bowl game that season at Pro Player Stadium.
The Sooners beat the Seminoles as Miami was denied a chance at a fifth national title. The Hurricanes beat the No. 7 Florida Gators, 37-20, in the Sugar Bowl. The wait for ring No. 5 wouldn’t last long, though, as UM went 12-0 with its historic 2001 team.
Between 2000 and Miami’s previous win over a No. 1 team, there were regular-season losses to top-ranked FSU in 1999, 1995 and 1993, plus a 24-17 loss to No. 1 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl that followed the 1994 season.
In 1991, however, Miami topped No. 1 Florida State in Tallahassee, 17-16, in the first “Wide Right” of the series. The Hurricanes finished that year 12-0, winning the Orange Bowl to be crowned national champions for the fourth time.
Miami’s third title, in 1989, also had a win against a No. 1 team catapulting the Hurricanes. Then ranked No. 7 going into a regular season finale against top-ranked Notre Dame at the Orange Bowl, UM beat the Fighting Irish, 27-10. A Sugar Bowl win against Alabama followed for a share of the title.
Preceding that one, the 1988 Hurricanes opened the season with the historic 31-0 drubbing of No. 1 FSU in which the UM defense forced six turnovers and held the Seminoles to 42 yards rushing as quarterback Steve Walsh threw a pair of touchdowns.
Across different seasons, that victory actually made it wins over a top-ranked team in back-to-back games because the Hurricanes also won the 1987 national championship by defeating No. 1 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, 20-14, with coach Jimmy Johnson winning UM its second title.
Miami also topped the Sooners as a top-ranked team during the 1986 regular season, 28-16, at home. It was part of an undefeated regular season before UM dropped its chance at a title in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State.
Johnson’s first win as Hurricanes coach was in the 1984 opener against No. 1 Auburn, 20-18. It followed Miami’s first championship, capping the 1983 season with the 31-30 victory over top-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl that was sealed by defensive back Ken Calhoun’s deflection on the Huskers' two-point conversion attempt for the win.
It also was the last game of coach Howard Schnellenberger’s tenure, and in his previous meeting against a No. 1 team, he topped Penn State, 17-14, at home in 1981.
Before the 1980s, UM lost its three previous meetings against a top-ranked team.
A third consecutive Miami Hurricanes game was the feature of ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday morning.
Lee Corso, after correctly siding with Miami in the past two wins over Louisville and Florida State, went with No. 1 Clemson for his headgear pick from his home in Orlando.
Miami’s own Alex Rodriguez was the guest picker and was the only one to pick UM.
Junior cornerback Al Blades Jr. was featured in a segment where a player from each team took viewers through a week of preparation. Clemson defensive end K.J. Henry did the same for the Tigers. Blades made sure to get fellow cornerback DJ Ivey and head athletic trainer Vinny Scavo among those in the video.
Touted tight ends
Some mocks for the 2021 NFL draft have Miami junior tight end Brevin Jordan hovering around the end of the first round — or even as high as the middle of the first. UM offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said this week that fellow junior tight end Will Mallory would also make a fine pro prospect.
“Both those guys have God-given ability and the work ethic to play at the next level for a long time,” Lashlee told 560-AM.
“To have guys that allow us to be versatile, allow us to play fast and multiple, that’s a big deal. Those guys are matchup problems for defenses.”
Lashlee also said “the bye week came at a good time” for Mallory, who was limited in the win over FSU after he was “banged up” against Louisville.
Jordan leads the Hurricanes with 15 receptions for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Mallory, listed as a co-starter on the depth chart, has two catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.
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