1995 FedEx Orange Bowl:
Nebraska 24, Miami 17
Miami, Fla., Jan. 1, 1995 - It was a night when Nebraska just wouldn't give up. Even in Miami's back yard, where the Hurricanes had won 62 of their last 63 games and had not lost there at night since 1985. The 12-0 Huskers, ranked No. 1 by both polls, defeated the 10-1 Miami Hurricanes, ranked third in both polls, in the FedEx Orange Bowl in Miami, 24-17, in a spectacular come-from-behind victory.
It was the second year that NU would have a shot at the national championship in the Orange Bowl, missing out in the 1994 Bowl to Florida State, 18-16, on a last-second missed field goal. This season, Nebraska boasted the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation but faced a Warren Sapp-led Miami defense which ranked first in pass efficiency defense (81.3), total defense (220.9 ypg) and scoring defense (10.8 ppg) and seventh in rushing defense (96.8 ypg). Nebraska's defense was its best on paper since 1984, ranking in the top 10 in every defensive category, including second in scoring defense at 12.1 ppg. Tommie Frazier, who had not played for the Huskers since the Sept. 24 Pacific game, got the starting nod from Coach Osborne, after grading better in Nebraska's full scrimmage in Miami on Dec. 24. But Osborne promised that Brook Berringer, who led Nebraska to a perfect 12-0 season, by starting seven of the last eight games, would also play.
Nebraska stalled on its first drive, while Miami moved the ball 31 yards, close enough for a Dane Prewitt 44-yard field goal. Frazier moved the Huskers to the Miami 41 on the second drive, but throwing under pressure, was intercepted by Carlos Jones at the 3-yard line. With three long passing plays by Miami QB Frank Costa, 17 to Jammi German, 43 to A.C. Tellison and a 35-yard scoring bomb to Trent Jones, Miami was on the board again. In just five plays and a PAT, Miami was up 10-0 with :04 remaining in the first quarter. Berringer's first drive to start the second quarter also stalled, but punter Darin Erstad put the Hurricanes back to their own 10-yard line with a 54-yard punt. Two penalties stalled Miami, then with 7:54 remaining in the first half, Berringer put Nebraska on the board with a five-play, 40-yard drive culminating with a 19-yard TD strike to Mark Gilman. Neither team was able to score again on two possessions each and Miami went in the locker room with a 10-7 lead.
Coach Osborne told his troops at halftime that if they kept their cool, they would wear down Miami and get it done in the fourth quarter. He also said they may have to weather some big plays by Miami and that needless penalties could decide the game, and that's exactly what happened. Just 1:41 and five plays after intermission, Costa completed a 44-yard pass to Jonathan Harris, who wound his way through the Husker secondary to the end zone. Prewitt's PAT gave Miami its second 10-point lead and momentum. NU's first drive, under Berringer's hand, was three and out, but much as they had all season, the Husker defense took it upon themselves to change the tide. After Costa threw an incomplete pass, Miami was tagged for an illegal block and a personal foul which set the Hurricanes back to their own 4-yard line. As Costa dropped back on second and 10 from the 4-yard line, Husker senior outside linebacker Dwayne Harris threw him for a safety.
Although Berringer's next drive from the NU 25 stalled, Erstad again pinned Miami inside its own 10-yard line with a 46-yard punt. Costa was able to bring the Hurricanes up to the Nebraska 46-yard line, but that was to be the last time they crossed midfield. In Miami's first drive of the fourth quarter, Prewitt was about to punt from the UM 43, but the ball was snapped over his head and after an illegal kick, Nebraska took over first and goal at the 4-yard line. Nebraska attempted to score quickly, but with no one open in the end zone, Berringer tried to throw the ball away, but Earl Little intercepted it. It was a big break for Miami, but the Husker defense would not let the momentum change. In fact, Miami went three and out on its last four drives and had just four positive yardage plays. Costa and company had minus 43 yards rushing and minus 35 yards overall in the final period as Harris had two sacks and Terry Connealy one.
Meanwhile, Nebraska's infamous offensive line lived up to its billing and documented the fact that they were the stronger line in the fourth quarter. Nebraska took the ball with 12:07 remaining in the game and Coach Osborne sent Frazier, who had not taken a snap since the first quarter, back into the game equipped with fresh legs. Although NU went three and out, Erstad pinned Miami on its own 4-yard line, and NU got the ball back with 8:11 remaining at the Miami 40. Lawrence Phillips busted through for 25 yards, the longest rush against Miami's defense all season. On the next play, fullback Cory Schlesinger busted up the right side on a trap play for a 15-yard score. Frazier then connected a bullet pass to tight end Eric Alford for the two-point conversion and to tie the score at 17-all. The successful two-point play took place in the same end zone at the Orange Bowl and nearly the same spot on the field as the failed two-point conversion of 1984, which allowed Miami a 31-30 win and the national championship.
Miami's next drive saw fullback James Stewart go to the left for one yard, NU cornerback Barron Miles broke up a pass, then Costa overthrew Taj Johnson on a long bomb before Prewitt's punt was downed on Nebraska's own 42-yard line. The clock read 6:28 as Frazier orchestrated Nebraska's second score in the fourth. Phillips lost one yard on the first play, then Frazier completed a 7-yard pass to split end Reggie Baul. On third and four at the NU 48, Frazier showed why he's tabbed as one of the best option quarterbacks in the nation and his scramble for 25 yards to the Miami 27 for a first down may have been the deciding factor in earning his second MVP award. Phillips gained seven, and Frazier six more as the Nebraska rushing game pounded out 13 more of its 83 fourth-quarter rushing yards. Then on first and 10 at the 14, Frazier again handed it to Schlesinger who burst through the Miami defenders on another trap play for the game-winning 14-yard TD. Senior place-kicker Tom Sieler added the extra point for the 24-17 margin.
Miami had one last chance at its own 18 with 2:46 remaining, but after a 5-yard pass to Marcus Wimberley, Costa was sacked twice, by Connealy and Harris, then intercepted on fourth down by senior rover Kareem Moss. Frazier kneeled out the remaining minute and the Huskers earned their first national championship under Tom Osborne and the school's third overall. Telling numbers in the game included 11 penalties for 92 yards lost by Miami, compared to Nebraska's 3-20. Nebraska outrushed Miami 199-29 and outyarded UM 305-277. Phillips' 96 yards, to lead all rushers, was the third-best total against Miami on the season, while NU's 199 as a team was second only to Arizona State's 208. Meanwhile, Miami became the 11th victim in the 1994 season to fail to score against the Huskers in the fourth quarter.
Although Penn State would also remain undefeated (12-0), beating Oregon 38-20 in the Rose Bowl the next day, Nebraska was the No. 1 team in both polls by a wide margin (51.5-10.5 first-place votes in AP, 54-8 in CNN/USA Today/Coaches Poll). NU's team motto for the 1994 season could now be put to bed. "Unfinished Business" was Finished.
SOURCE: 1995 NU MEDIA GUIDE