Hurricanes blow out Cornhuskers 37-14

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 4, 2002

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – Without a loss and without a doubt,Miami is the national champion.

The Hurricanes completed a perfect season by overwhelmingNebraska 37-14 in the Rose Bowl on Thursday night, ending anydebate about who is No. 1.

With Ken Dorsey throwing three touchdown passes – two toreceiver Andre Johnson – Miami rolled to a 34-0 lead in the firsthalf.

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”The entire team deserves to be MVP tonight,” said Dorseyafter he and Johnson were selected as co-MVPs. ”Our defensestepped up to the challenge and did a great job. Our offensiveline, receivers, everybody did a great job against a greatteam.”

Johnson added: ”I felt like I had something to prove so Ibrought my ‘A’ game.”

The stunned Huskers, beaten 62-36 by Colorado in their previousgame, had no answer for Miami’s speed and ferocious defense. Thelopsided score raised even more questions about whether Nebraskabelonged in the Bowl Championship Series’ title game.

The Associated Press poll of sports writers and broadcasters wasto be released early Friday, with the Hurricanes a lock to wintheir fifth national title, all since 1983. Their last championshipwas in 1991.

Top-ranked Miami (12-0) didn’t have to wait to pick up thetrophy awarded by the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll, whichautomatically goes to the winner of the BCS championship game.

Oregon, a 38-16 winner over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl onMonday, was hoping for a Nebraska win to claim a share of thetitle, but the Ducks will probably end up second in the finalpolls.

Nebraska (11-2) and its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, EricCrouch, had promised there would not be a repeat of the pitifulperformance against Colorado. They were wrong, unable to do muchagainst the Miami defense until the game was already out ofreach.

”We talk about talent all along, but the thing that set thisteam apart is character,” Miami coach Larry Coker said. ”Theyrefused to give in, refused to flinch, and they got the job doneweek in and week out.”

Nebraska couldn’t disagree.

”We played a great football team in Miami and they were on topof their game,” coach Frank Solich. ”We helped them withturnovers in the first half. We got in such a big hole, it wasdifficult.”

Dorsey 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 inthe half. Between those TD passes, Clinton Portis ran 39 yards fora touchdown, safety James Lewis returned an interception 47 yardsfor a score and Dorsey connected with tight end Jeremy Shockey on a21-yard TD pass – all in 3:53.

And just like that, Miami stretched its winning streak to 22games, and made the 53-year-old Coker just the second coach to wina national title in his rookie season. Michigan’s Bennie Oosterbaandid it in 1948.

Nebraska and Miami came into this Rose Bowl having played threeprevious games with national titles on the line, all in the OrangeBowl. Miami won twice, in ’83 and ’91; Nebraska once, in ’94.

Dorsey threw for a career-high 362 yards, completing 22 of 35passes with one interception, while Johnson caught seven passes for199 yards. Portis added 104 yards on 20 carries.

Nebraska just couldn’t compete. It managed only 259 total yards- nearly 200 under its average.

Crouch ran 22 times for 114 yards and completed 5 of 16 passesfor 62 yards.

The Huskers finally scored on Judd Davies’ 16-yard run with 2:39left in the third quarter, and DeJuan Groce added a 71-yard puntreturn for a TD early in the fourth period.

Todd Sievers kicked a 37-yard field goal with 10:04 left forMiami’s only points of the second half.

Though Husker fans made up most of the crowd of 93,781, it wasthe 20,000 or so orange-clad Hurricanes fans who did most of thecheering.

Crouch picked a bad time for one of the worst games of hisrecord-setting career, but Miami’s defense swarmed the option andrarely gave him room to run.

On Crouch’s third carry of the game, linebacker D.J. Williamsstripped the ball away and William Joseph recovered. On the nextplay, Dorsey hooked up with a wide-open Johnson – safety KeyouCraver fell on the coverage – for the 49-yard TD pass with 6:51left in the first period.

Nebraska’s Josh Davis fumbled the ensuing kickoff on a crunchinghit by Markese Fitzgerald, and Sievers recovered at the Huskers 34.Nebraska survived the turnover, but Miami was far fromfinished.

Portis took a handoff from Dorsey, slipped at the line ofscrimmage but kept his balance, then avoided two tacklers andoutran the secondary to the end zone.

Four plays later, Crouch’s pass went through the hands of TraceyWistrom and Lewis grabbed the ball just before it hit the groundand ran 47 yards untouched to make it 21-0.

On Miami’s next possession, Dorsey hit Johnson for 45 yards andthen connected with Shockey for the 21-yard score with 10:40 leftin the half. Sievers missed the extra point, but it didn’t matter.The Huskers were all but finished.

Last year, Miami was edged out of the BCS’ title game in theOrange Bowl by Florida State, and vowed this season to make it toPasadena.

There were close calls along the way – an 18-7 win at BostonCollege, and a 26-24 season-ending victory at Virginia Tech. But inthe end, the Hurricanes ended up as the only unbeaten team in theland and walked off with another national title.