Instead of playing for a tie and an almost guaranteed national title, the Huskers went for the win, attempting a two-point conversion that failed in the final minute as Miami stunned one of the greatest Husker teams ever, 31-30, at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 1984.
Trailing 31-17 entering the fourth quarter, the Huskers mounted a furious comeback without Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier, who left the game in the third quarter with a badly bruised ankle. Rozier’s replacement, Jeff Smith, scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 6:55 left in the game to trim the deficit to 31-24.
On the Huskers’ final drive, Turner Gill completed clutch passes to Irving Fryar (29 yards) and Ricky Simmons (19 yards) to advance the Huskers into Hurricane territory. On a fourth-and-eight play from the Miami 24-yard line, Smith took an option pitch from Gill and scampered 24 yards to the end zone.
Trailing 31-30, the Huskers went for a two-point conversion, but Ken Calhoun deflected a Gill pass intended for Smith to end the comeback threat.
“This was a championship game and (Osborne) went after it like a champion,” Miami Coach Howard Schnellenberger said. Nebraska trailed fourth-ranked Miami by 17 points in the first half before pulling within three at halftime.