By Bruce Lowitt
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 27, 2001
Their names are Ahman Green, Mike Rozier and Tommie Frazier, Craig Erickson, Bernie Kosar and Ken Calhoun. And Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson. They played for or coached Nebraska or Miami and they wear national championship rings.
Now come Eric Crouch and Dahrran Diedrick, Ken Dorsey and Clinton Portis, Frank Solich and Larry Coker, players and coaches with a line to be filled on their college football resumes.
As we look forward to Nebraska's and Miami's first visit to the Rose Bowl with a national championship on the line, we look back at Cornhuskers and Hurricanes that preceded them.
MIAMI 31, NEBRASKA 30
MIAMI -- With 48 seconds to play, the national championship still hung in the balance, and Nebraska coach Tom Osborne had a decision to make.
Fifth-ranked Miami built a 31-17 lead behind freshman quarterback Bernie Kosar's two touchdown passes. And the Cornhuskers, ranked No. 1 going in, were without Heisman Trophy-winning I-back Mike Rozier, who had rushed for 147 yards before injuring an ankle.
But Jeff Smith took over and scored twice in seven minutes, the latter from 24 yards on fourth and 8. That cut the Hurricanes' lead to 31-30.
Kick the extra point, the game would end in a tie and Nebraska would win its third national championship to go with the 1970 and '71 crowns. But to Osborne, winning it that way would taint the title. Only a victory would make Nebraska a true champion. He chose to try for the two points and sent in the play to quarterback Turner Gill, who had completed 16 of 30 passes for 172 yards and run 1 yard for a touchdown.
Gill rolled right and lofted the ball toward Smith in the right flat. Strong safety Ken Calhoun swatted the ball away from Smith and Miami's first national championship was secured. Osborne would get his national championship 11 seasons later.
"There are a lot of ways to win things," Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger said, "and there are a lot of ways to be viewed by your contemporaries and the public at large. I think Tom Osborne grew in stature in the minds of everybody by going for the all-or-nothing situation."