THE CANES KEPT COOL
Everyone keeps waiting for a team that will force the Miami Hurricanes to lose their cool—and, in the process, a football game. But if last Saturday's performance against the Michigan Wolverines is any indication, that might not happen for some time. Before 105,834 spectators in Ann Arbor, Miami sustained its drive for a second straight national title with an 11th-hour explosion against hard-luck Michigan and won 31-30.
In the past two years, Miami has learned not only to steamroller Oklahoma, but also to outpoise everyone else. The Hurricanes did it last year in beating Florida State 26-25 after trailing 19-3 in the third quarter. And they did it against the Wolverines. With 7:16 to go, Miami trailed 30-14. That's when junior quarterback Steve Walsh took it upon himself to throw 18 straight passes in Miami's three remaining possessions, completing 11 of them, for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Walsh was a study in poise in the huddle. "Guys are thinking, Oh, no. We're losing. What are we going to do?" said fullback Cleveland Gary, who rushed, caught passes and returned kicks for 206 yards. "And Steve's saying, 'Relax. Be patient. We can come back.' You think, Man, he's crazy. But then we come back."
Walsh hit tight end Rob Chudzinski with a seven-yard scoring pass with just over five minutes to play, and he found Dale Dawkins alone in the end zone for the two-point conversion. With 2:58 left, Walsh hit Gary over the middle for 48 yards to cut the lead to 30-28. But when Walsh's two-point pass was broken up, it was time for Carlos Huerta, a walk-on placekicker playing in only his second college game, to steal a little thunder from Reggie Ho of Notre Dame and destroy the Wolverines. First, Huerta's on-side kick got a perfect high third bounce and was recovered in the air by Hurricane Bobby Harden. Then, with 43 seconds left, Huerta kicked a 29-yard field goal that gave Miami its 14th consecutive win, 20th in a row on the road and 34th consecutive regular-season victory. The last team to beat a traveling Hurricanes squad? Michigan, by a score of 22-14 back in 1984.
Afterward, Michigan fans sat in silent disbelief. It didn't seem fair: The Wolverines, who have now lost two games by a total of three points and are 0-2 for the first time in 29 years, played without a turnover and kept the ball for 36:58. Miami committed four turnovers and had the ball for only 23:02.
But Miami was the master of the moment. "Young players will make mistakes," said coach Jimmy Johnson, "but young players will grow up and learn in games like this." The Hurricanes have had a lot to learn from, and Johnson has proved he has a lot to teach.
They played a 61-minute game in Corvallis, Ore., and it wasn't a case of overtime. California was leading Oregon State 16-6 in the final period when, instead of reading 10:00, the scoreboard clock suddenly flashed 10:99. The clock operator caught his error, but reset the numerals to 10:59 instead of 9:59. The back judge, whose responsibility it is to monitor the clock, didn't notice the extra minute, nor did either coach.
The Beavers went on to score 11 points in the final 1:53, winning 17-16 on Troy Bussanich's 23-yard field goal with only 16 seconds remaining. No one realized that the teams had replayed the game's 50th minute until well after the final gun, when an Oregon State staffer named Mike Corwin began scrutinizing the play-by-play printout. By then, of course, it was too late.