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Published 07/17/2013
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#BuildingChampions Wednesday: '83 vs. Irish

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 the “It Starts With U” initiative to increase Hurricane Club membership, looked at the characteristics of what made the 1987 team champions and the 1983 one-point win over Florida State that propelled the Canes into a match-up against No. 1 Nebraska.

The series also looked at arguably the greatest team assembled in college football history, the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, as well as the 1989 team that won the first of two national championships under Dennis Erickson. 

This week’s edition of #BuildingChampions Wednesday focuses on another key moment in the 1983 national championship season, the victory over No. 13 Notre Dame.

The 1983 Hurricanes were 2-1 and unranked heading into their Week 4 matchup against No. 13 Notre Dame.

Miami lost its season opener at Florida, 28-3, but had reeled off a pair of impressive victories at Houston (29-7) and at home against Purdue (35-0). The Fighting Irish, who also beat Purdue, were 1-1 and coming off a 28-23 loss to Michigan State.

Notre Dame had dominated the series heading into the 1983 meeting, amassing a 13-2-1 record over the first 16 meetings. But Miami beat the Irish, 37-15, at the Orange Bowl in 1981 and played Notre Dame close in 1982, falling, 16-14, at Notre Dame Stadium.

The 1983 matchup was set in the heart of Little Havana at the historic Miami Orange Bowl and Hurricanes put together a historic performance. Miami’s 20-0 victory over Notre Dame on Sept. 24, 1983, was the first time the Canes shut out the Irish in a victory. The two teams played to a 0-0 tie in 1965.

The shutout marked the first time Notre Dame was blanked since losing 3-0 to Missouri in 1978. It was also the first of two times Miami shut out Notre Dame in program history (24-0, 1987).

Notre Dame had shut out Miami four times before the Canes’ impressive 1983 win. The Irish won 14-0 in 1977 and 17-0 in 1971. Notre Dame crushed Miami, 44-0, in 1972 and 20-0 in 1978, but Howard Schnellenger’s 1983 team dominated one of the traditional college football powers for Miami’s first major victory of the season.

The 1983 team was led by redshirt freshman quarterback Bernie Kosar. In just his fourth career start and first matchup against Notre Dame, Kosar completed 22 of 33 passes and threw a touchdown to Eddie Brown in the second quarter.

Running back Speedy Neal opened the Hurricanes’ scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, while kicker Jeff Davis added a pair of second half field goals to seal the victory.

Defensively, the Canes were led by All-American linebacker Jay Brophy, who tallied 10 tackles and a sack on the day. The senior also picked off a Blair Kiel pass for an interception in the first quarter. Freshman Reggie Sutton also contributed with eight tackles, four pass breakups and a two blocked field goals.

At the time, the 20-0 victory over Notre Dame was considered the biggest in program history. The win vaulted the Canes into the Top 25 for the first time that season, placing them at No. 15 in the UPI and Associated Press polls and at No. 16 in the USA TODAY and Sports Illustrated polls.

Canes fans know that the 1983 season ended with a national championship, but that would not have been possible without the statement Miami made with their 20-0 win over No. 13 Notre Dame. The Hurricanes continued climbing the rankings following their win over the Irish, reeling off seven straight victories before they defeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to secure the first of the program’s five national titles.

To help build champions and join the Hurricane Club, visit Follow Associate AD Jesse Marks on Twitter, @jessehmarks, for all the latest Hurricane Club updates.