Then Bruno rose. "Hey, wait a minute," he said. "Didn't the Japanese lose that war?" This qualifies as one of the five best lines ever issued by a punter.
The next morning Johnson said, "Our players were very offended by those racial remarks." That seemed noble enough until it came out that the walkout had been planned. "It was all set up," said Miami defensive tackle Dan Sileo. Had Johnson known about the walkout? Probably not. Johnson seems to be as surprised as the rest of the world by what his players do. "Every morning I can't wait to pick up the paper and see what they've said next," he said. Better, what didn't they say next?
"We played for the national championship on September 27 [against Oklahoma]," Sileo said. "As far as I'm concerned, Friday's game is just the end of the season."
"[Shane] Conlan covering me will be good for us," said Miami flanker Michael Irvin of the Lions' All-America linebacker. "I'm sure I can run right past him. ... We're looking to put them away early."
"You know what I think of John Shaffer and D.J. Dozier? I think they're nothing," said Brown of Penn State's quarterback and star running back. "Shaffer thought he had a bad bowl game last year [a 25--10 defeat by Oklahoma in the 1986 Orange Bowl]. That was nothing. After this game he'll wish he'd graduated. The dude's about to star in a nightmare. ... We don't care what people think about us, as long as we win, our fans are happy, and we bring our school more money. We could care less what people think about the University of Miami."
In short, the 'Canes were hard to confuse with anybody running for office in Phoenix. About a dozen of them alighted from the team plane looking like Soldier of Fortune catalog models. Miami officials insisted that the Fiesta Bowl committee redo the Hurricanes' locker room at the stadium, which it did. Most of the players wore sweats and T-shirts to a swank luncheon. (Penn State's players had on coats and ties.) During pregame warmups Miami players swore at Penn State players and coaches. The 6' 2" Irvin went up to Ray Isom, the Lions' 5' 9" safety, and laughed in his face. "You're Isom?" Irvin said with glee. "Oh, mannnnnnnn." Then the 6' 1" Highsmith walked up to 5' 11" cornerback Duffy Cobbs. "You shouldn't have come, you know," said Highsmith. "It's too late to turn back. You've chosen your own death now."
How could Highsmith et al. have known that Paterno and his staff, especially defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, had plans for them? After spending exhausting hours studying film, Sandusky concluded that if Miami's receivers are jammed at the line and walloped for catching the ball, "their arms get about eight inches shorter," as Cobbs put it. Added Conlan, "They kept talking about how little our defensive backs were, but they'd never been hit by them."
Irvin disputed that assessment after the game. "The weather was cool," he said. "The ball was slippery." Whatever, something was separating the Hurricanes' pass catchers from the ball. They dropped seven passes—four in the first half, when Testaverde's confidence took a disastrous plunge. By halftime's 7--7 tie, Testaverde had made some miraculous scrambles, including one death-defier out of his own end zone to the Miami 24. But he hadn't thrown a touchdown pass, hadn't thrown a bomb and seemed strangely out of kilter.
In fact his night came right out of the nightmare Brown had envisaged for Shaffer. Testaverde's first two passes of the second half were dropped, and two possessions later he was intercepted by Conlan. With the score still 7--7, Testaverde was intercepted by linebacker Pete (Gifto) Giftopoulos on Miami's first possession of the fourth quarter, and only Highsmith's brilliant sweeps kept a later drive alive. That one ended with a 38-yard Mark Seelig field goal, which put the Hurricanes ahead 10--7 with 12 minutes remaining.
The lead didn't last long. On Miami's next possession Conlan picked off another Testaverde throw. He returned it 38 yards to the Hurricanes' five, a place from which even Penn State's iron-poor offense—Nittany Lions defenders gained more yards (91) than Nittany Lions receivers (53)—could score. When Dozier spun through the middle for a touchdown and a 14--10 lead, Testaverde seemed a tragic case.