#8 Florida State 24 ... #2 Miami 10
the field on a humid Saturday night in Tallahassee, the eighth-ranked
(5-2) Florida State Seminoles were decisive underdogs to the
second-ranked (6-0) Miami Hurricanes. Miami brought the nation's
top-ranked scoring defense, top-ranked total defense, a three-game
win streak in the series, a defensive front lead by Russell
Maryland, Cortez Kennedy, Willis Peguese and Greg Mark and
a thirteen-game win streak. Florida State started the season
in miserable fashion, having lost to Brett Favre's Southern
Miss team and then the Clemson Tigers at home. The battered
Seminole defense had allowed sixty-four points in the season's
first two games and entered this battle with Miami allowing
nearly eighteen points per game. Florida State had not beaten
Miami at home in ten years. And to add insult to injury, just
one season ago, Miami had annihilated the Seminoles in the
season opener, 31-0, in front of a national televised audience.
Preseason #1 FSU had entered the game dancing and rapping,
but Miami dominated from start to finish holding Seminole
Heisman hopeful Sammie Smith to just six yards on ten carries.
The game cost Florida State the national championship. In
fact, each of the past two seasons, Miami had dealt the Seminoles
their only loss. It was revenge time in Tallahassee.
This ESPN televised primetime game was played in front of
a sellout crowd 62,602 at Doak Campbell Stadium. The only
question mark for the Hurricanes entering this game was at
quarterback. Junior Craig Erickson had injured his right hand
and was replaced in the season's fourth game against Michigan
State. Redshirt freshman Gino Torretta had lead Miami to 104
points in his first two starts, throwing for a school record,
468 yards in his last win over San Jose State. The Seminoles
were lead by four senior starters; quarterback Peter Tom Willis,
running back Dexter Carter, and two All-Americans, linebacker
Odell Haggins and safety LeRoy Butler.
game's electrifying opening quarter, neither team disappointed.
Just one minute into the game, the Seminole faithful were
placed in a frenzy as LeRoy Butler intercepted Torretta's
first pass of the game. One play later, Dexter Carter raced
off left tackle thirty-seven yards for the game's opening
score for the longest offensive play allowed by Miami all
season. The Canes responded by driving sixty-five yards for
a touchdown culminating in an eight-yard pass from Torretta
to wideout Randal Hill. The Seminoles regained the lead on
a one-yard touchdown run by Edgar Bennett. Again, the Canes
responded, this time by marching for a 44-yard field goal
by walk-on kicker Carlos Huerta. As the opening quarter ended,
Florida State had a tenuous 14-10 lead.
Over the next two quarters, each team missed opportunities
and made crucial mistakes. Torretta, who had not thrown an
interception in his first two starts, ended with four INTs
for the game with two going to FSU's sophomore linebacker
Kirk Carruthers. In the second quarter with the score still
FSU 14-10, Torretta drove the Canes to the FSU one-yard line.
On third and goal, Miami ran play-action and Torretta lofted
a pass to Wesley Carroll in the end zone. Linebacker Kevin
Grant's interception stalled the Canes drive. In all, Miami
ended the game with six turnovers, eleven penalties for ninety-four
yards and one turnover on downs inside their own one-yard
line. Florida State's Peter Tom Willis was responsible for
two turnovers of his own. One was a key interception in the
third quarter to Miami cover man Roland Smith, giving Miami
the ball at the FSU 40, still down 14-10.
Torretta drove the Canes to the one-yard line, where Carruthers
made the play of the game. Fullback Shannon Crowell was stripped
as he went over the top and Carruthers recovered the fumble
at the one-yard line for the decisive play in the game. Florida
State then stuck the dagger in the heart of the Canes mounting
a 99-yard drive covering twelve plays. Behind Dexter Carter's
running, a pass interference call on Miami's Kenny Berry,
and a key 51-yard pass from Willis to wide receiver Ronald
Lewis, the Seminoles took control of the game. Amp Lee's one-yard
touchdown run gave Florida State a 21-10 lead.
FSU kicker Richie Andrews added a 41-yard field goal to give
the Noles a 24-10 cushion early the final quarter. Again,
Torretta drove Miami to the one-yard line late in the game,
but again, the Canes failed as he fired incomplete to Dale
Dawkins on fourth down. It was a game of "should'ves,
would'ves, and could'ves" for the Canes. But there was
no denying Florida State, who rammed the nation's best defense
for 220 rushing yards and 354 total yards. Dexter Carter ran
21 times for 142 yards as the Noles out gained the Canes by
almost 100 yards on the ground. The game still stands in the
FSU record books under 'Most Penalty First Downs in a Game',
with 13. It was a mistake filled bloodbath between two of
the nation's biggest heavyweights. And it was a revenge game
that Seminole fans and coaches will never forget.
feels so good," said Coach Bobby Bowden. "It's the
way it should have been the last four years, I guess. This
is just a great win for us." And the game, that at least
momentarily, evened a rivalry.
State would go on to end the season at 10-2 and #3 in the
nation. After their 41-17 thumping of Nebraska in the Fiesta
Bowl, many believed the Noles were the nation's best team
at season's end. But that distinction would go to these same
Miami Hurricanes. Quarterback Craig Erickson returned to lead
Miami to an 11-1 season and a National Championship, including
a 27-10 whooping of then top-ranked Notre Dame. It was Miami's
third championship in their last seven seasons.