The Worst of Times: Top 10 Most Painful Miami Hurricane Defeats
Jack King once said,"few players [or fans] recall big [games] they have won, strange as it seems, but every player [or fan] can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats [and losses they have been a part of or witnessed]."
That quote perfectly captures how it feels to be a Miami Hurricanes fan.
During the past 25 years or so the University of Miami has enjoyed being the preeminent team in college football. They have won multiple National Titles and put together stretches of brilliance on the field.
Miami has trounced teams by 50 plus points. They have tormented the Florida State Seminoles by handing them nail biting losses. On several occasions they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Yet, despite all the wins it's the losses you always seem to remember.
These are defeats that stick with you for the rest of your life.
They serve as painful reminders of what could have or should have been but wasn't. The moments and plays you relive over and over in your head. You torture yourself with the what if this happened or what if that had occurred, constantly conceiving ways to rewrite history. All the while making the agony worse and worse.
Miami didn't lose much for an entire decade. This made the few losses that much harder to deal with.
As a result of their success between 1983 and 1993, Miami fans and members of the program had become incredibly spoiled. For some time they felt entitled as if it was their right to win a championship each and every year. Anything less never seemed to suffice or as Ricky Bobby would say "if you ain't first you're last."
The "championship or bust" mentality hasn't gone anywhere but the expectations did change for a while.
In the mid to late 1990s Miami began to lose its strangle hold on the trophy. The team was put on probation and losses became more frequent. Things had changed and the college football world was more balanced.
Then in 1999 the "U" was back. It was instantly back to the Miami fan of old. You know the pounding on your chest and screaming "King Kong ain't got nothing on" us.
Thus for the majority of the last two plus decades it has often seemed as if a Miami Hurricanes loss was a down right tragedy. It's made them hurt more. Often for good reason as for a while any and every Hurricane loss was another blown chance at adding to the trophy collection.
With that in mind we will now take a look at the "Top Ten" most painful losses in Miami Hurricanes football history.
10. Getting Lost on the Comeback Trail.
Miami seemed to be getting back on track entering this contest. They had a (5-1) record and were ranked #10 in the nation.
The Canes had managed to beat highly ranked teams in Florida state, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma.
Despite the poor performance versus Virginia Tech, Miami still had National Title aspirations. At the very least Miami was on pace to play in their first ACC championship game. A win there would have propelled Miami into a BCS bowl game.
All of that title talk would come to an end after Clemson scored a touchdown in overtime to hand Miami its second loss of the season.
The game itself was a classic. There were numerous lead changes and big plays.
Final Score: Clemson 40 Miami 37
Aftermath: Miami thought that they were back, in retrospect they were close but this game proved that they were still not there.
9. Things Weren't So Peachy
The 2005 Peach Bowl was a dream match up. The ninth ranked Miami Hurricanes versus the tenth ranked LSU Tigers.
The teams hadn't met since the 1980s when Miami laid some severe beatings on the Tigers. The first quarter of the game was close. Entering the second quarter it was all even (3-3), then Matt Flynn throws a bomb and things quickly went downhill.
The Canes seemed to just quit on Coach Larry Coker and were embarrassed as a result.
To make matters worse, after the game LSU tried to take a game ball away from a Miami staff member. This led to a brief skirmish during which two Hurricanes (Andrew Bain and Khalil Jones) were knocked unconscious by an LSU player that began swinging his helmet as a weapon.
Final Score: LSU 40 Miami 3
Aftermath: This game signaled the beginning of the end for the Larry Coker era. The coach was forced to fire most of his assistants, many of which had been with the Canes since the 1980s. The next year Coker was on the proverbial "hot seat" and at season's end was informed his services would no longer be needed.
8. Failure To Launch
Miami entered the 1990 campaign with great expectations. They had just won the National Title the previous season and were coming back stacked with talent.
What Miami didn't anticipate was schedule makers sending them to Provo, Utah to open the season versus Ty Detmer and a solid BYU squad.
To make matters worse BYU had already played a warm up contest the week before against UTEP.
As Miami Herald Columnist Edwin Pope commented afterward “Never fly 4,200 miles to play a good team at 4,500 feet — especially if they have Ty Detmer.”
Craig Erickson and the Canes nearly staged a last minute comeback but a game tying drive was spoiled after a dropped pass on the 2 yard line.
Final Score: BYU 28 Miami 21
Aftermath: Miami would play like a team possessed the rest of the season. Despite ending with only one loss, the voters felt that Notre Dame ( a team which Miami had beat that year) should play Colorado for a chance at the title instead. Miami would go on to demolish Texas in the Cotton Bowl 46 to 3.
Georgia Tech and Colorado would share the national title even though everyone knew Miami was the best team in the country that year.
As a result the Canes were denied a chance to "three-peat" as college football champs.
7. Goodbye, Orange Bowl
The stage was set for what should have been a great moment in Hurricanes football history.
Miami was entering the last ever game at the famed Orange Bowl with a chance to become bowl eligible and close out the stadium on a positive note.
The sidelines were filled with former players/Hurricane greats. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had given a motivational speech for the crowd and the place was swaying with anticipation.
Then the game started. What ensued was a night that all Hurricane fans have tried to purge from their memory banks.
Kyle Wright and the offense couldn't get anything going and the Canes' defense couldn't stop anyone.
Final Score: Virginia 48 Miami 0
Aftermath: The Hurricanes were embarrassed and had brought a shameful end to what should have been a festive closing for the historic stadium. Randy Shannon failed to get Miami into a bowl game during his first season as coach.
6. The Whammy In Miami/ Home Wiining Streak Ends at 58.
The "Whammy in Miami" as it has been dubbed was a really disappointing loss.
Miami entered the 1994 contest versus Washington having won 58 consecutive home games.The Hurricanes hadn't lost in their friendly confines since 1985. That's a record which still stands today.
The halftime score was Miami 14 Washington 3.
Then the referees took over by letting Washington get the ball first in both halves. Seems the refs said Miami had elected to kickoff to start the game. Rather than make the obvious conclusion that the player meant to defer receiving the ball until the second half, the ref's just thought Miami meant they wanted to kickoff to start both halves.
"But they also did not tell anyone that they were going to do that to Miami, who spent halftime preparing to go on offense instead of defense. Miami then gives up an easy touchdown to start the second half, and then two more quick TDs, and are suddenly down 25-14, in a classic example of meltdown, Brent Musberger shouts with glee, and the 58 game home winning streak is broken."
The result wasn't exactly a shock to die hard Hurricane fans. While the defense was stocked with players such as Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp, the offense had a horrible quarterback and lacked the explosiveness that defined previous Miami squads.
What was a shock was giving up 35 second half points.
Final Score: Washington 38 Miami 20
Aftermath: Miami's long standing home streak was snapped. With it went the mystique of the Orange Bowl as the hardest stadium to get a road win. Within a year Miami would be put on probation. Sports Illustrated recommended that a "Death Penalty" be handed down. The next four season of Hurricanes football were tough to deal with for Miami fans.
6. BCS Stands for Bull Crap System (Tie)
In 2000, under the guidance of Coach Butch Davis, the Miami Hurricanes were beginning to gather strength again.
The Hurricanes had managed to land a slew of talented players and were young but determined. The team would lose only one game that season.
That game took place in Washington where the 4th ranked Hurricanes fell behind early against the 15th Huskies.
Miami, which was down 21-3 at halftime and 27-9 late in the third quarter, staged a comeback and had there been two or three minutes left in the game would have probably won the contest.
This was only the second week of the season and Miami was just starting to pick up steam. Still the loss would come back to haunt them.
Despite having beat Florida State (when they were ranked number one in the nation), the BCS elected to send the Seminoles to play for the National Title in the Orange Bowl.
Final Score: Washington 34 Miami 29
Aftermath: Despite beating then number one FSU at home, Miami was forced to settle for a Sugar Bowl match versus the Florida Gators. While that game was an enjoyable 37-20 win over the rivals from Gainesville, many Miami fans were still in disbelief over the BCS snub.
Even though they were voted the second best team in the country, by coaches and the media, it seems that the BCS computers didn't agree. As a result Florida State got to play for the trophy.
There is little doubt that Miami, which by seasons end was the best team in the land, would have given Oklahoma a much better battle. Considering the game was played in Miami, the Hurricanes would have had a big home field advantage and likely beat the Sooners.
Butch Davis chose to leave the program for the NFL/Cleveland Browns and thus began Larry Coker's tenure as head coach.
Just had to show what happened to Washington the following season.. 65-7.
5. Hail Flutie
"Flutie flushed.........throws it down.........CAUGHT BY BOSTON COLLEGE! I don't believe it! It's a touchdown! The Eagles win it!"
Miami was the defending National Champions and ranked # 12 in the country when they hosted Doug Flutie and the # 10 ranked Boston College Eagles.
Boston College and Miami went back and forth for four quarters. It was an offense filled game with both teams lighting up the scoreboard.
The two quarterbacks played phenomenal games, combining for 59-84, 919 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Melvin Bratton had four touchdowns for Miami.
With 28 seconds remaining, Boston College trailed 45-41. Three quick plays took the Eagles from their own 20 yard line to the Hurricanes' 48 yard line.
The rest as they say is history.
"This turned out to be the highest rated regular season college football game of the year, Flutie wins the Heisman thanks to that play. It even got Flutie on Saturday Night Live."
Final Score: Boston College 47 Miami 45
Aftermath: The game itself didn’t have national title implications, but it’s how Miami lost to Boston College that made it so painful.
Now every year Hurricane fans get to see that damn replay thrown on every college football commercial or list of the greatest games/finishes ever.
It also paved the way for Doug Flutie to win the Heisman and for Hurricane fans to eternally hate Brent Musberger and his obvious favoritism for any one that plays against Miami.
4. Catholics Vs Convicts
The stage was set in 1988 for another classic showdown between bitter rivals Miami and Notre Dame.
South Bend was rocking like never before as the home town fans came out to support their Fighting Irish. Miami entered the contest ranked #1 in the nation while Notre Dame came in as #4.
The Irish students had begun a distribution of Catholics versus Convicts t-shirts. By it's very nature a hypocritical gesture for a Catholic person to pass such judgment on others. The classless nature of the Irish faithful was best summed up by Bernie Kosar who said "I'm a catholic and it's the most unchristian environment in the world to play in."
Before kickoff police had to step in to separate the two teams which had started a skirmish in the tunnels leading into the stadium.
The game itself was a great contest. The frustrating part was the referees blowing a fumble by Cleveland Gary on the one yard line. Replays clearly showed that Gary was down before the ball came out. That play basically ruined the Canes chances.
In the end Miami still had a chance to win with a last minute two point attempt following a touchdown pass from Steve Walsh. On the extra point attempt Walsh didn't see an open man, and throws it to the outside, where it was batted down by an Irish defender.
Final Score: Notre Dame 31 Miami 30
Aftermath: Miami was the best team in the country and yet again were denied. This time voters sent West Virginia to play Notre Dame for the title, instead of a Hurricane/Irish rematch.
The loss was horrible on so many different levels. First the Canes get robbed of a win against a bitter rival, then they get robbed at a chance for redemption and another National title. Lastly it marked the end of the Jimmy Johnson era as the following year "JJ" bolted for the NFL/Dallas Cowboys.
3. The Strip
Everyone remembers the play where Lamar Thomas was streaking down the sideline in route to a touchdown when suddenly his arm is pulled back, and George Teague yanks the ball from his hand.
That play as it turns out was a non-factor, because an off-sides penalty against Alabama. Still the Crimson Tide had scouted Miami well and it propelled Alabama to the 1993 Sugar Bowl win.
Gino Torretta may have gone into the game as the Heisman winner but he had a horrible performance. With the score 13-6, Miami was driving for the tying score. Then Torretta threw a horrible pass which Teague picked off and ran back for a touchdown.
That play deflated the entire team and it was all but over.
Final Score: Alabama 34 Miami 13
Aftermath: Miami misses out on back to back titles yet again. This loss signaled the end of the "Glory Days" for the Hurricanes. They would not be ranked number one in the nation for another nine years. Coach Erickson would leave soon after for the NFL/Seattle Seahawks.
2. Disaster In The Desert
It was a classic showdown when the Miami Hurricanes and Penn State Nittany Lions faced off in 1987.
Miami entered the game with a seemingly unstoppable team. "The Hurricanes had outscored their opponents during the season 420-136 en route to a perfect regular season.
They had held the #1 ranking since handing the reigning champion Oklahoma Sooners their only loss during the fourth week of the season.
Miami boasted a talented squad which was led by 1986 Heisman Trophy winner, Vinny Testaverde who starred at quarterback, All-Americans Jerome Brown and Bennie Blades on defense, and future NFL Hall-of-Famer Michael Irvin at wide receiver.
On the flight to the game the entire Miami Hurricane team changed into military-style fatigues to play into the "warfare" element of the contest. The game had been referred to as the "Duel in the Desert."
All of this had set the stage for a much hyped and ballyhooed title game.
Miami vastly out gained Penn State on the field, 445 yards to 162, with 22 first downs compared to the Nittany Lions' 8. However, the Hurricanes were hampered by seven turnovers, including five interceptions of the Heisman-winning Testaverde.
In the end Miami had one last chance to win but Testaverde made yet another bad read which led to his fifth and final interception.
Final Score: Penn State 14 Miami 10
Aftermath: Miami could have played that Penn State team 20 more times and would have won each of them by more than ten points. As is they lost when it counted most thanks to their worst performance of the season.
This is tragic for Hurricane fans as it may signify the best team to ever play college football and not win a title.The following year Jimmy Johnson and the Hurricanes destroyed every team in their path and won their second National Title.
1. The Fiasco Bowl
We're not even going to elaborate on this game. Plain and simple Miami won the 2003 National Title.
It doesn't matter what the records show everyone knows that Ohio State was gift wrapped a championship by Referee Terry Porter.
The game was a great one with Miami bouncing back after leading play maker Willis McGahee suffered a horrible looking injury.
The double-overtime national championship is considered by many to be arguably the greatest college football game ever played. It was the first national championship game to go into overtime, and the back-and-forth battle continued all the way until the end.
Then came what is referred to as the single worst call in sports. Miami players won the title after stopping Ohio State in the first overtime period. Fireworks went off, fans cheered and players rushed the field....... then came the mystery flag. Enough said.
Final Score Ohio State 31 Miami 24
Aftermath: Miami misses out on a chance to win back to back titles yet again. The team would and should have gone down as one of the best to ever play the sport. Instead it's a tainted and questionable loss.
Maurice Clarett had no business being in that game and it's amazing the NCAA didn't strip the Buckeyes of their title after all the evidence against him came forward.
But unlike Ohio State fans, Miami doesn't need anything handed to them in order to be champions.
Hurricanes' just go about their business and take whatever they want. This will be on display come September 11th, when Miami will travel to Columbus, Ohio and deliver eight years of vent up anger on the Buckeyes.
It doesn't matter that Ohio State will enter the game ranked second in the country, this game will be personal and when the final whistle blows Miami will have their redemption.
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