By David Villavicencio
The University of Miami has won five National Championships in football and each title-winning team has been unique from the others.
From 1983-2002, the Hurricanes won five of a possible 20 championships, the most of any school in that two-decade span. Five different head coaches guided the program over those 20 years, building one of the greatest dynasties in college football history.
After highlighting the award-winning #BuildingChampions campaign and looking at the characteristics of what made the 1987 team champions, this week’s edition of #BuildingChampions Wednesday looks at a key moment in the 1983 championship season: the one-point win over Florida State.
“Amazing. Beautiful. Dramatic. Exciting. Fantastic. Great. Historic. Incredible. Magnificent. Rewarding. Super. Terrific. Unbelievable. Wonderful.”
Those are words used by the Miami communications office in 1983 to describe the Hurricanes first National Championship season.
But the Canes, who won 11 straight games after losing to rival Florida in the season opener, would not have played for the national title without a resilient effort against Florida State in the final regular season game of the year.
Miami entered Doak Campbell Stadium ranked No. 5 to face the in-state rival Seminoles. The Canes, who were 9-1 going into the game, had not surrendered more than 17 points since their 28-3 loss Sept. 3, 1983 to the Gators.
Florida State entered the game 7-2 and unranked after suffering a pair of tough road losses at Auburn and Pittsburgh earlier in the year. But the Noles were riding a four-game winning streak in which they scored over 40 points in three of the four games.
The stage was set for an outstanding rivalry matchup between two talented teams and the Hurricanes and Seminoles did not disappoint.
Miami led after one quarter, 7-2, thanks to a touchdown from running back Albert Bentley. But the Seminoles charged back thanks to rushing touchdowns by running back Greg Allen and quarterback Bob Davis to take a 16-14 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Canes would not be down for long as freshman quarterback Bernie Kosar drove Miami’s offense down the field in the final two minutes to set up a 19-yard field goal attempt.
Hurricanes kicker Jeff Davis, who had missed attempts from 46 and 41 yards earlier in the game, split the uprights to give Miami a 17-16 win on the final play of the game.
“This is a fairybook story with a fairybook ending,” Miami head coach Howard Schnellenberger said following the win. “I never, ever dreamed that a season would go like this. I guess it’s fitting that the game went down to the fourth quarter and even to the final play.”
The victory sent Miami to the Orange Bowl, where the Hurricanes defeated top-ranked Nebraska and won the school’s first National Championship in Schnellenberger's final season.