No. 15 Miami Upsets No. 2 Texas 38-35 In Hard-Fought First-Round Playoff Game

Jon Sarver@ IDecember 23, 2009

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Quarterback Jacory Harris #12 of the Miami Hurricanes scrambles against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Land Shark Stadium on September 17, 2009 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Miami defeated Georgia Tech 33-17.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

The GridIron Gauntlet Spotlight Game of the Week

#15 Miami Upsets #2 TEXAS 38-35 in Hard Fought GridIron Gauntlet First Round Playoff Game

Mack Brown was torn after the game. Brown, an avid playoff supporter, just saw his season go further south than the city of Miami. The Hurricanes edged the Texas Longhorns before 101,000 dismayed fans at Darrell K. Royal Stadium on Super Saturday Round 1 of the GridIron Gauntlet College Football Playoffs.

Texas immediately accepted a Cotton Bowl invitation to play in the traditional game at the Cowboys' Stadium which is allowable under the new GridIron Gauntlet College Football Playoff rules. However, they had lost a chance to play for a NCAA FBS National Championship and Brown was visibly disappointed at losing such a great chance to advance to the second round and the Rose Bowl with a close home game loss.

Texas started off predictably strong with a long drive of 89 yards in the first quarter capped off by a Colt McCoy-to-Jordan Shipley 35-yard touchdown pass. The Longhorns' first drive was a thing of beauty as Trey Newton and Colt McCoy each ran the ball three times on the drive confusing a very eager Hurricane defense. 

The first Texas drive was in stark contrast to the almost anemic effort they had in the Big 12 Championship Game against Nebraska which left major doubts in the minds of most college football fans whether they were indeed the second best team in the country. After all, the upset would have been far less shocking had Nebraska known how to kick the ball in bounds at the end of the Big 12 Championship game.

Miami took the ensuing kickoff and, on the first play, running back Craig Cooper burst out to the left side and rumbled down the for 25 yards. Jacory Harris then hit LaRon Byrd for a 10 yard gain to the Texas 43-yard line.

Miami scored with six minutes left in the first quarter when Harris hit Leonard Hankerson with a beautiful corner endzone fade.

The Hurricane fans were now really loving the idea of a playoff and the sudden chance to reclaim some national prominence. The extra point squeaked through the uprights and the game was tied at 7.

The second quarter was ragged with Texas controlling the game through Colt McCoy's timely passing and smart running. They marched on their first possession of the quarter from their own 25 to the Hurricanes' 10-yard line. 

It was at that part of the field that an ill timed holding penalty on Vondrell McGee on what appeared to be a Colt McCoy run, turned into a last-second touchdown pass, was called back. McCoy then recovered from his poor passing decision and ran for a 25-yard touchdown through several frustrated defenders and the Longhorns appeared to take control of the game at 14-7.

Miami came right back on two long pass plays and found themselves knocking at the door on the Longhorns' 33 when Berry Damien coughed up the ball due to a vicious hit by Roddrick Muckelroy , who once again was a mammoth defensive presence. 

Texas then mixed several passes and runs with two holding penalties and offside and interference to stagger to the Hurricane 15 where McCoy found Tre Newton on a short swing pass and the score ballooned to 21-7 Texas as the first half and a very ragged second quarter came to an end.

The teams lined up for the second half kickoff and D.J. Monroe rumbled 89 yards all the way to paydirt and the state of Texas was thinking of a Rose Parade and 72-degree weather in Pasadena, leading 28-7 lead just seconds into the second half.

But according to Mack Brown who said, "We play these playoff games to truly determine a champion," the Longhorns then took the rest of the third quarter off. 

Miami, behind Cooper's 87 yards on 10 surprising carries and two clutch touchdown passes by Jacory Harris, was tearing up huge chunks of yardage. Suddenly, Miami was back in the game at 28-21 and the third quarter came to an end with a very restless Texas home crowd thinking about their narrow victory over a lowly-regarded Nebraska team and possibly more indicative of their overall team skill.

But in fact, it was only the beginning of what turned out to be a wild fourth quarter with 17 Hurricane points beginning with a long 53-yard, almost-desperation field goal by Matt Bosher with Longhorns suddenly looking at a "Texas sized" loss straight in the face!

Suddenly, Miami had all the momentum and Texas was playing not to lose. The Hurricanes were on the march and this was turning into a Katrina like outcome! The small contingent of Miami rooters sounded like 20,000 as they started to believe maybe they could do the impossible:

Beat mighty Texas!

Colt McCoy fumbled at the Hurricanes' 30 while trying to make an impossible play that turned out to be ill-advised.  McCoy, who depends on the run a lot decided to try a Reggie Bush-type lateral back to Jordan Shipley , as he was being tackled for a slick 15-yard gain. The problem was Shipley was looking to block, not handle the ball, and the result was predictable and tragic as the momentum that Texas had was lost with that crazy play. 

McCoy said later that, "Big players make big plays in big games. However, it reminds me of what Reggie tried against us in 2005. I should have made a better decision."

True to form in the game of the day, Miami hustled up the field behind the passing of Jacory Harris and two key rushing gains by Javarris James as the Hurricanes bolted into the lead with just 5 minutes left in the game, 31-28. To this point the Hurricanes had out-gained the Longhorns 435-372 and held a slight advantage in time of possession.

The Longhorns had to react quickly and they had to do it now!

Colt McCoy then proceeded to prove why he is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks all-time at Texas as he took command of the Longhorns on their own five-yard line with 4:56 to play. 

McCoy mixed play-action passes with well planned runs by Craig Cooper and a 25-yard scamper of his own and suddenly Texas was on the march to a possible Rose Bowl berth.

On the Hurricanes' 10-yard line, McCoy called his own number and fell on the three-yard line for a first down. There was 3:45 left in the game as the Longhorns moved causally to the line and a play-action pass to Tre Newton was complete but for only one yard.

With 3:12 seconds left, McCoy called his own number again and rolled to the right and pulled back at the very last second and hit D.J. Monroe for what appeared to be the game winning touchdown.

35-31! "Deep in the heart of Texas!"

The home crowd went nuts and all was well deep in the heart of Texas. Until Texas kicked the ball out of bounds. Did they not watch the tape of Nebraska? Kick it in bounds and you win. 

But, when you actually play the games instead of speculate, rely on computers, play the game on Xbox or Playstation 3 or write your own opinion of what might have happened, strange things happen, don't they?

Miami got the ball on their 40-yard line and moved it to the Longhorns' 45 where they had a tough choice to make: Do we go for it and ice the game or face Colt McCoy and his offense in a situation similar to the 2005 National Championship game?

Then, Harris handed the next snap to Greg Cooper but he was stopped for no gain and Texas was thinking "2005" with 2:45 seconds left and the opportunity to run out the clock.

Then the unthinkable happened! Colt McCoy mishandled a snap and fumbled the ball with 2 minutes left on the clock. Miami recovered the fumble and things that once looked so well started to look in question.

This is what happened next:

Harris moved the 15 point underdog Hurricanes to the line and hit Hankerson for 15 yards. With 50 seconds left, Craig Cooper carried the ball for 15 yards to the Longhorns' 30 and suddenly the crowd was in disbelief! The Hurricans snapped the ball again with 30 seconds to play, as Jacory Harris threw a four-yard pass to Craig Cooper to the Longhorn 26.

With the clock running down to 15 seconds, Harris' threw an incomplete pass in the direction of Damien Berry. He tried another fade with the same result.

Now, one of the arguments with a playoff is that it would not be a true test for the top teams. Well according to the rankings, Nebraska was not rated as high as Miami and look what happened there.

The crowds for the first-round games have been terrific.

  • The College Presidents and Conference Commissioners are still making their money. 
  • The major bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange) have all regained their prominence with the Cotton Bowl knocking at the door.
  • College Football has gained the same prominence as Pro Football in January.
  • Teams are not forced to play for a championship some 40 days after their last game (Particularly the Big 10).
  • The players are into it.
  • The fans wonder what took so long.
  • The conferences and schools still get their big pay days.
  • The sub-major bowls still get their crowds
  • The GridIron Gauntlet has proved a smashing success so far.

Then, with just 3 seconds left Miami scored on a corner fade with a unbelievable reception by Craig Cooper, who jumped high above the outstretched arms of the desperate Texas defender. The extra point was good. Miami 38, Texas 35. 

Miami kicks off and Texas fumbles the kickoff out of bounds. Game over. A playoff works! See the NCAA Football Championship for proof of that.  It has not been expanded to 20 games, so forget the argument a playoff doesn't work.

See the GridIron Gauntlet for more information.

We apologize for upsetting any Texas fans.  

We have the right to believe the TCU, Boise State or Cincinnati deserve to be in that game as much as you or Alabama.  We can argue schedules and computers all day.  It is all rather funny! Every other sport in America is determined by a playoff.

The NCAA Football Championship Subdivision just went to a 20 team playoff with the Championship Game in January.   

Once we can convince the BCS conference commissioners and college presidents that they will still haul in the money with the GridIron Gauntlet , we really believe we are on to something.

That's where you come in. The presidents and commissioners will need some heavy prodding to change their ways. We plan to be visible and protest during BCS games and let them know they can make a positive change for the better.

Find out how and join us again for another installment of "The Road to the GirdIron Gauntlet College Football National Championship!"

45-Second Game Recap

#2 Texas (35) vs #15 Miami (38) (FL) (3:30 PM EST):

In a game that vindicated a playoff and knocked off the No. 2 team in the country, a perennial NCAA football power announced "We're back!" by shocking Texas, 38-35, with a 26-yard touchdown pass as time ran out.

It was a frustrating game for Texas all day as they proved the close call with Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship was no fluke. The defense of Texas struggled all day as Miami ran and passed up and down the field.

Over 101,000 Texas fans sat in dismay as they came to grips with the fact that they were indeed the second best team in the state of Texas. Colt McCoy ended his distinguished Longhorns' career with a fumble with 120 seconds left that led to the winning score.

Mack Brown, a strong proponent of a 16-team college football playoff, was heard saying as he walked off the field, "That's why we play the game and this is why we have a playoff. It just stinks it was my team that proved this is the right playoff plan for these times."


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