No. 1 Miami 37, No. 4 Nebraska 14
Friday, January 4th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ Ten years after the Miami Hurricanes last ruled the college football world and a year after being frozen out of the title game, they are No. 1 again.
Miami left no doubt at the Rose Bowl, opening a 34-point lead in the first half against Nebraska on the way to a 37-14 victory Thursday night.
Even the Cornhuskers were impressed.
``I think anyone would have struggled with them the way they played,'' Nebraska coach Frank Solich said.
Ken Dorsey threw for a career-best 362 yards and three touchdowns, sharing the MVP award with Andre Johnson, who had seven catches for 199 yards.
Clinton Portis ran for 104 yards, including a 39-yarder for a touchdown, and safety James Lewis took an interception 47 yards for a TD as the Hurricanes finished a perfect season with a near-perfect performance.
``If you have any more questions, we're 12-0,'' Miami's All-American safety Ed Reed said. ``There's a lot of people saying they should be here. If they were, they would have gotten the same treatment.''
In winning its fifth national title _ third at the expense of Nebraska _ Miami defeated the Huskers more soundly than Colorado did in a 62-36 win on Nov. 23.
The 'Canes, who take a 22-game winning streak into next season, manhandled the Huskers. They held the nation's leading rushing offense to 197 yards on the ground and just 259 total yards _ nearly 200 yards under Nebraska's average.
The Associated Press poll of sports writers and broadcasters voted Miami No. 1 unanimously, giving the Hurricanes their first title since the 1991 season.
Miami picked up the trophy awarded by the USA Today-ESPN coaches' poll following the game.
Oregon (11-1), a 38-16 winner over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, finished second in both polls. Nebraska (11-2) dropped four places and finished No. 8 in the final AP poll, and seventh in the coaches poll.
``The only thing I'd be disappointed in is that we didn't get a shot,'' Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington said after watching the game in Phoenix. ``You can speculate all you want, but I know we have a very good football team.''
Before the season started, Miami players vowed they wouldn't allow the computer-driven BCS standings to determine their bowl fate. In 2000, Florida State was chosen over Miami to play Oklahoma in the BCS title game at the Orange Bowl even though the Hurricanes beat the Seminoles.
So Miami went out and finished as the nation's only major unbeaten team.
``The entire team deserves to be MVP,'' Dorsey said. ``Our defense stepped up to the challenge and did a great job. Our offensive line, receivers, everybody did a great job against a great team.''
Johnson added: ``I felt like I had something to prove, so I brought my `A' game.''
The stunned Huskers, beaten 62-36 by Colorado in their previous game, had no answer for Miami's speed and ferocious defense. The lopsided score raised even more questions about whether Nebraska belonged in the BCS title game.
``We didn't play well enough to make it a competitive game in the end or in the first half,'' Solich said. ``From that end of it, it certainly wasn't the matchup everybody dreamed of.''
Nebraska and its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Eric Crouch, promised there would not be a repeat of the pitiful performance against Colorado. They were wrong, unable to do much against the Miami defense until the game was already out of reach.
``We talk about talent all along, but the thing that set this team apart is character,'' Miami coach Larry Coker said. ``They refused to give in, refused to flinch, and they got the job done week in and week out.''
Dorsey, now 26-1 as a starter, opened the scoring with a 49-yard TD pass to Johnson, then found him for an 8-yard TD with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. Between those TD passes, Portis had his TD run, Lewis returned his interception and Dorsey hit tight end Jeremy Shockey on a 21-yard TD pass _ all in 3:53.
And just like that, Miami made the 53-year-old Coker only the second coach to win a national title in his rookie season. Michigan's Bennie Oosterbaan did it in 1948.
Crouch ran 22 times for 114 yards and lost a fumble, and completed five of 15 passes for 62 yards with an interception.
The Huskers finally scored on Judd Davies' 16-yard run with 2:39 left in the third quarter, and DeJuan Groce added a 71-yard punt return for a TD early in the fourth period.
Although Huskers fans made up most of the crowd of 93,781, it was the 20,000 or so orange-clad Miami fans who did most of the cheering.
Crouch picked a bad time for one of the worst games of his record-setting career. Miami's defense swarmed the option and rarely gave him room to run as Nebraska lost two games in a row for the first time since 1990.
``We turned the ball over, and that's what killed us,'' Crouch said. ``We knew Miami was that type of defense, they live off turnovers. We got down too far.'