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« Like Clockwork | Main | New Blogs: 6/23/2006 »

Flashback '87

Last night, I watched the Sun Sports replay of the 1987 Orange Bowl between Oklahoma and Miami.

The game would pit Oklahoma's wishbone offensive machine and dominant defense against Miami's team speed on both sides of the ball.  Both teams were loaded with talent, but Miami clearly had the upper hand.  The Hurricanes completely throttled the Sooners' offense with their small, speedy linebackers and big, athletic defensive interior.

Miami boldly sat on the ball most of the second half, content with its 17-7 lead.  By the time the game reached 20-7 midway through the 4th quarter, Miami relaxed and Oklahoma was finally able to move the ball after recording just 180 yards of offense to that point.  The Sooners would record a late score on a fumblerooskie play, putting themselves within six points.  Again, Miami maintained its swagger and calmly iced the game to win 20-14 for Jimmy Johnson's first national championship.

I mentioned this game to Heisman Pundit today, and he added a few relevant thoughts:

---Although Miami's defense was able to thoroughly dominate the Oklahoma offense, it is not a knock on what Oklahoma could do.  The wishbone remained an effective offense up to that point in college football history, particularly for teams with the kind of talent that could be found at a place like Oklahoma.

In fact, Oklahoma had the nation's No. 1 offense, recording 493 points (41.1 points/game) and topping 50 points an amazing five times (71 points, 69, 65, 59 and 56).  Their defense was no pushover either, having recorded two shutouts.

---Miami's matchup with Florida State earlier in the season was arguably the true national championship game.  Miami would win 26-25 in the first Wide Right game.


---Miami's lone defensive shutout in 1987 was against Notre Dame, a 24-0 victory.

---Oklahoma went 33-3 between 1985 and 1987, with all three losses at the hands of the Hurricanes.

---The Hurricanes' coaching staff included Dave Campo (defensive backs), Butch Davis (defensive line), Dave Wannstedt (defensive coordinator/linebackers), Art Kehoe (offensive line) and a greenhorn graduate assistant named Tommy Tuberville.

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Reader Comments (2)

Gotta say, I wish that the wishbone/option attach was somehow able to be more viable today. Easily the most entertaining style of offense in college football history, in my opinion -- and I've been watching Dirk Koetter's aerial show at ASU for a few years now. It'll be interesting to see how long the spread option attack that's popular right now will stick around before defenses find a way to adjust.
June 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Wait a second, CFR--that Miami-FSU game was not a wide-right game. FSU went for 2 after scoring a TD to make it 26-25 late, and their pass on the 2-point conversion fell incomplete.

If FSU had gone for the tie, there's a strong case to be made for their potentially winning the national title that season. The thinking being, when the bowl bids were being offered, Miami still had two difficult games left to close out the season (one of which turned out to be a 20-16 win against South Carolina--I can't remember the other). So, chances are that the Orange Bowl would have taken FSU, who I think had finished their season, to play #1 Oklahoma--and, with a win, they'd have likely finished ahead of Miami, no matter what the Hurricanes had done in their bowl game.

That was right when I got into CFB; the 1987 season was a great one, one of my favorites to this day (1988 remains my favorite season, even though ND--certainly not my favorite team--won the title).
June 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSolon

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