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Maybe next year

Miami's hopes dashed with Oklahoma victory

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Posted: Wednesday January 03, 2001 4:43 PM
Updated: Thursday January 04, 2001 1:24 AM

  Butch Davis Will head coach Butch Davis be back with the Hurricanes next year? AP

MIAMI (AP) -- The second-ranked Miami Hurricanes had to wait a day to find out the fate of their national championship hopes. Now they will have to wait a year for another shot.

With No. 1 Oklahoma's 13-2 victory over third-ranked Florida State on Wednesday night in the Orange Bowl, the Hurricanes were eliminated from title contention.

"To perform the way they did this evening is to their credit," Miami coach Butch Davis said. "We had a tremendous season and I could not be prouder and more thrilled about our team and our programs."

The Sooners (13-0) claimed the top spot in the coaches' poll and were expected to do the same in The Associated Press writers' poll. Miami needed the Seminoles to beat Oklahoma to have a chance at a share of the national title.

The Bowl Championship Series title went to the winner of the Orange Bowl, but The Associated Press media panel voted to crown a champion.

Davis attended the Orange Bowl, where his team's fate was decided. He said most of his players likely watched the game with teammates and friends.

Regardless of not getting an opportunity to play the Sooners for the title, Davis said the season was a success. It was capped by Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl victory over Florida.

"Knowing where we came from six years ago to get to a game the magnitude of last night was a huge success in itself," Davis said. "Winning that game makes it that much more sweet."

Indeed, when Davis arrived in 1995, the Hurricanes were a far cry from the teams that won four titles between 1983 and 1991.

Probation that led to scholarships reductions put them in a hole, and a 47-0 loss to Florida State in 1997 might have been the true indicator of how far the 'Canes had fallen.

"That was probably the game that sent a message to our fans and our alumni that we weren't crying wolf," Davis said. "It said that losing 31 scholarships, there was a price that was paid. There was a huge disparity between our program and Florida State."

This season, Miami struck back with a 27-24 victory over the Seminoles. That win stood as the keystone to the Hurricanes' claim to the national title.

They also beat then-No. 2 Virginia Tech. Then, with one last chance to impress in the Sugar Bowl, they showed signs of a champion.

They were deep: Clinton Portis (97 yards rushing) and Daryl Jones (two catches and a 44-yard punt return) barely skipped a beat when starting tailback James Jackson and receiver-returner Santana Moss were hurt.

They bounced back from adversity: Ken Dorsey drove the Hurricanes 80 yards in 12 plays after Florida had seemingly gained momentum with a go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter.

They made great plays: Najeh Davenport stole the ball from linebacker Marcus Oquendo-Johnson for a touchdown when Oquendo-Johnson seemed to have an interception wrapped up.

That's why Davis felt pretty much at peace as he headed home to watch the Orange Bowl.

The Hurricanes were expected to finish second in both polls.

Miami held a significant 53-point lead over Florida State in the final regular-season AP poll. That, plus a reasonably impressive victory over Florida, made the Hurricanes confident they would share the championship if the Seminoles did their part.

Related information
Miami overcomes mistake-prone Florida in Sugar
SI's Tim Layden: Miami deserves share of title
All the Hurricanes can do now is wait, cheer for FSU
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