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THE BATTLE FOR NO. 1
Rick Reilly
December 22, 1986
Using a unique and highly sophisticated rating system, which considers everything from shoes to safeties, the author explains why Miami will beat Penn State by 8.5 points
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December 22, 1986

The Battle For No. 1

Using a unique and highly sophisticated rating system, which considers everything from shoes to safeties, the author explains why Miami will beat Penn State by 8.5 points

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Tackling: "Every time they get a guy one-on-one, that one guy makes the tackle," says Kehoe. "They're the best tackling team I've ever seen." Penn State plus one.

Staleness: Since Oct. 1, Miami has played two good teams, Florida State and Pitt, while Penn State has played three, Alabama. Notre Dame and Pitt. Could be that the Hurricanes have grown accustomed to depending on No. 14. They haven't had a back rush for 100 yards since the first game of the season. Penn State plus one.

Best Trivia: 1) In 1967, Paterno was ready to give up coaching. He had gone 5-6 in his first year in State College and had opened his second with a loss to Navy. Now he had to play at Miami. He was distraught. "I said I'd have to do something to see if I was a football coach," Paterno recalls. So, in a bizarre strategy, he chose not to fly his team to Miami until the day of the game, to stay in an air-conditioned hotel near the airport until game time, to take an air-conditioned bus to the Orange Bowl and then to play 14 untested sophomores. The Lions didn't know it was hot and won 17-8. "That game probably turned my career around," says Paterno.

2) At Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy in 1981, Testaverde faced the Penn State JV. He got hit so hard he chipped a vertebra, ending his season. Fork Union won anyway.

3) Miami is the last team to win on Jan. 2. The Hurricanes beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 1984 for the national championship.

Miami plus one.

Monster Plays: Miami forced 23 more turnovers than it lost. Penn State had 18 more. Miami plus one.

Linebackers: "Conlan is probably a better athlete than Bosworth," says Miami offensive coordinator Gary Stevens. Linebacker U plus 1.

Bosses: This will be Paterno's 18th bowl in 21 years. He's 11-5-1 in the things. Johnson is 1-3 in bowls. Says Switzer, "Joe gets 'em ready to play the big games." Penn State plus two.

And, of course....

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