After the game Paterno said, "I've been in a lot of happy locker rooms, but that was the happiest. There was so much enthusiasm, so many kids who wanted to hug me and vice versa. It was like one giant 'Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Finally! We got it.'
"Wouldn't it have been a shame if we hadn't played this game," continued Paterno. "If we had not had a shot at them, Miami would have been voted No. 1, no question. Instead, we got to find out who was better."
Shoulda seen it coming. After all, the Nittany Lions have never lost in Tempe, where they are now 4-0. Also, when Penn State won the national crown in 1983, it held another Heisman winner, Georgia's Herschel Walker, in check. Finally, for the second straight year in a bowl game, Miami fell to a team with inferior manpower because Johnson and his staff got outcoached.
When title time rolled around on the 12-yard line, Miami thrashed about on the sidelines, stuck with a play for the national championship that it really didn't want, and ended the game with an extra timeout hanging around its neck like a millstone. Meanwhile, Penn State knew exactly what it needed to do. Just as the Lions had done in a last-breath win at Notre Dame, one of their nameless, black-shod players came up with the brightest play. "We beat them the only way we could," said Paterno. "We beat them in certain situations. We spent hours and hours on playing those situations."
Maybe someday Johnson's bowl record will be as sterling as Paterno's 12-5-1 mark. For now, though, Johnson is a Bo-dacious bust at 1-4, and his team had some explaining to do. "All that talk during the week," said Sileo. "I guess we kinda have our feet stuck in our mouths right now."
No big deal. People across the country just learned what folks in South Florida already know. Occasionally, Hurricanes are just a lot of wind.