November 9, 2007

The 25 most memorable games in the Orange Bowl

More on the Orange Bowl: Orange Bowl to host final Miami game

25. Dolphins-Steelers, Dec. 3, 1973.

This was back in the day when Monday Night Football on ABC was appointment television. Dolphins SS Dick Anderson had four interceptions of Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw and the Dolphins won 30-26. In addition, then-Dolphins coach Don Shula took an intentional safety on a punt in the final minute rather than risk a punt out of the end zone. Miami then had to kick to Pittsburgh, but the defense held and the TV audience was left with Howard Cosell gushing about the great coaching move employed by Shula. Both teams made the playoffs, and the Dolphins went on to bludgeon Minnesota in the Super Bowl.

24. Florida State-Miami, Sept. 3, 1988.

This was the season-opener for both, and Florida State came in ranked No. 1 in the preseason. Some Florida State players, including CB Deion Sanders, had recorded the "Seminole Rap" that summer. The song extolled FSU's superiority. Then-Miami coach Jimmy Johnson played it for his players two nights before the game and it had its desired effect: Miami dominated, winning 31-0.

23. Florida State-Miami, Oct. 7, 2000.

Call it "Wide Right III," as FSU freshman Matt Munyon missed a 49-yard field goal on the final play of the game. Ken Dorsey had given the No. 7 Hurricanes the lead over the top-ranked Seminoles on a 13-yard TD pass to Jeremy Shockey with 46 seconds left to cap a seven-play, 68-yard drive that started with 1:37 on the clock. Miami's victory snapped FSU's 17-game winning streak. FSU QB Chris Weinke threw for 496 yards and three TDs.

22. Florida International-Miami, Oct. 14, 2006.

The game between crosstown rivals was marred by one of the nastiest brawls in memory. The Hurricanes won but no one remembers the game, just the brawl. Both coaches (FIU's Don Strock, Miami's Larry Coker) were fired after the season, and the brawl figured in their dismissals.

21. Alabama-Nebraska, 1972 Orange Bowl.

It was the top-ranked Huskers against the second-ranked Tide. It also was no contest. Nebraska rolled 38-6. The Huskers led 28-0 at halftime, with one of the TDs coming on a 77-yard punt return by Johnny Rodgers.

20. Dolphins-Patriots, Dec. 8, 1980.

The Monday night game itself was OK, with the Dolphins winning 16-13 in overtime. But it's what happened elsewhere that makes this one memorable. During the game, ABC's Howard Cosell informed the national audience that John Lennon had been shot and killed in New York. There were no 24-hour news channels back then, so virtually no one had heard the news until Cosell read the report.

19. Florida-Miami, Nov. 27, 1971.

"The Gator Flop." Florida's defensive players, who later said they were upset that Miami was trying to run out the clock and not score, literally fell down to enable the Hurricanes to score a late TD. That gave Florida's John Reaves enough time to become the NCAA's leading career passer at the time as the Gators rolled 45-16. Some Florida players cavorted in the stadium's end-zone dolphin tank after the game.

18. Dolphins-Jets, AFC Championship Game, Jan. 23, 1983.

Longtime Dolphins fans remember this simply as "The Duhe Game." LB A.J. Duhe had three picks of Jets QB Richard Todd and returned one for a touchdown. Miami went on to lose to Washington in the Super Bowl.

17. Miami-Notre Dame, Nov. 25, 1989.

Lou Holtz's Irish came into the regular-season finale ranked No. 1, while Dennis Erickson's Hurricanes who had lost in late October at Florida State came in at No. 7. No matter: UM rolled 27-10. This one might be best remembered for one of the most improbable plays of the decade, a 44-yard gain on a pass from Craig Erickson to Randal Hill on third-and-44 from the Hurricanes' 3. The gain keyed a 22-play drive that covered 10:47 of the third and fourth quarters. The victory sent the second-ranked Hurricanes to the Sugar Bowl, where they beat No. 7 Alabama for the national title in Dennis Erickson's first season.

16. Miami-Oklahoma, Sept. 27, 1986.

It was the top-ranked Sooners of coach Barry Switzer against the second-ranked Hurricanes of coach Jimmy Johnson in one of the most eagerly anticipated regular-season games of the decade. The Hurricanes had upset the Sooners the previous season in Norman, Okla., and OU linebacker Brian Bosworth wasn't shy in predicting a different outcome in 1986. But Miami won 28-16 as Vinny Testaverde accounted for four TDs.

15. Maryland-Miami, Nov. 10, 1984.

The greatest comeback in college history saw the Frank Reich-led Terps rally from a 31-0 third-quarter deficit to win 42-40. (Miami lost to Doug Flutie and Boston College in its next game.)

14. Florida State-Miami, Oct. 3, 1992.

"Wide Right II." A year after the Seminoles' Gerry Thomas hooked a potential game-winning field goal to the right with less than a minute left, FSU's Dan Mowrey did the same thing with eight seconds left as No. 2 Miami prevailed 19-16 over No. 3 Florida State.

13. Alabama-Texas, 1965 Orange Bowl.

This was the first bowl game played at night, and it was memorable for more than that. Alabama already had been crowned national champs in those days, the final polls came out before the bowls but the Longhorns scored three times in the first half, then held off Joe Namath and the Tide 21-14. Ernie Koy scored on two runs for the Longhorns.

12. Colts-Cowboys, Super Bowl V, Jan. 17, 1971.

Baltimore rookie Jim O'Brien knocked through a 32-yard field goal with 5 seconds left to give the Colts a 16-13 victory. Dallas LB Chuck Howley was named the MVP the only one to ever come from the losing team.

11. Nebraska-Miami, 1995 Orange Bowl.

Tom Osborne finally got his first national title as his Cornhuskers outlasted the hometown Hurricanes 24-17. The 'Huskers scored the final 17 points and sacked Miami's Frank Costa four times in the second half - and five times overall.

10. Alabama-Notre Dame, 1975 Orange Bowl.

The top-ranked Tide came in as a double-digit favorite, but the Irish came up big for coach Ara Parseghian in his final game as coach. Notre Dame led 13-3 at halftime and held on in the second half for a 13-11 win. USC, which had trounced Notre Dame 55-24 in the regular-season finale, ascended to No. 1 with Alabama's loss.

9. Bears-Dolphins, Dec. 2, 1985.

The Bears came in 12-0, threatening the 1972 Dolphins' record of unbeaten immortality. But the Dolphins treated a roaring crowd and a Monday Night Football audience to a 38-24 thrashing of the Bears. Included in the crowd were a number of players from the '72 team.

8. Steelers-Cowboys, Super Bowl XIII, Jan. 21, 1979.

Terry Bradshaw threw for 318 yards and four TDs in one of the highest-scoring Super Bowls ever, with the Steelers prevailing 35-31. There were four touchdowns scored in the final period. One of the most memorable gaffes in Super Bowl history Dallas TE Jackie Smith's dropped TD pass occurred in this one. This also was the last Super Bowl played in the Orange Bowl.

7. Florida State-Nebraska, 1994 Orange Bowl.

Bobby Bowden got his first national title as the Seminoles hung on 18-16. It wasn't decided until the last play, when Nebraska's Byron Bennett who made a 27-yarder with 1:16 left for a 16-15 lead missed a 45-yarder wide left.

6. Miami-Oklahoma, 1988 Orange Bowl.

It was the top-ranked Sooners of Barry Switzer against the second-ranked Hurricanes of Jimmy Johnson. It was the third season in a row the teams had met, and Miami won 20-14 the same outcome as in the previous two games. This win was bigger though, because it gave Johnson his only national title. OU's Wishbone attack couldn't get anything going consistently against Miami's fast, aggressive defense. Steve Walsh threw two TD passes for Miami. OU's last score came on a "fumblerooskie" with 2:05 left, when guard Mark Hutson scored on a 29-yard run.

5. Steelers-Cowboys, Super Bowl X, Jan. 18, 1976.

Pittsburgh WR Lynn Swann made only four catches, but they covered 161 yards and were some of the greatest catches you'll ever see. Super Bowl trivia: Dallas' Percy Howard caught a 34-yard TD pass from Roger Staubach with 1:48 left to cut the Steelers' lead to 21-17 and complete the scoring. It was the only catch of Howard's NFL career.

4. Miami-Boston College, Nov. 23, 1984.

"The Flutie Miracle" Doug Flutie to Gerard Phelan on the final play. BC beats the Hurricanes 47-45.

3. Dolphins-Chargers, AFC Divisional Playoff, Jan 2, 1982.

Dan Fouts and the Chargers took a 24-0 lead before Miami came storming back, cutting it to 24-17 on a touchdown by Tony Nathan on a hook-and-ladder play (a hook-and-ladder play) at the end of the first half. The teams slugged it out in the second half, with San Diego eventually prevailing 41-38 in overtime. One of the all-time sports images emerged: an exhausted Kellen Winslow being dragged off the field by two Chargers teammates. He had 13 catches for 166 yards and also blocked a potential 43-yard game-winning field goal by Uwe Von Schamann on the last play of regulation.

2. Miami-Nebraska, 1984 Orange Bowl.

The Hurricanes won their first national title by shocking the top-ranked Cornhuskers 31-30. Nebraska scored late on a 24-yard run off a fourth-and-8 option play. But coach Tom Osborne decided to go for two, disdaining the extra point that could've tied it and likely would've won the title. The pass was knocked down in the end zone by Miami SS Ken Calhoun.

1. Jets-Colts, Super Bowl III, Jan. 12, 1969.

QB Joe Namath guaranteed a win for the upstart Jets and it came true. Baltimore was heavily favored, but Namath and the Jets pulled one of the greatest upsets in sport history, winning 16-7. The game changed pro football forever and cemented Namath as a sports icon.

More on the Orange Bowl: Orange Bowl to host final Miami game

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