It's been nearly 7 months since the tournament began back in February, but this is the game everybody has been waiting for. These two teams are always at the top of the list when discussing the greatest college football teams of all time, so it's only fitting they meet here to settle the debate once and for all.
It was clear right away that this was a battle featuring two heavyweights. If the 33 NFL draft picks in the starting lineups doesn't give you enough of an indication, the size and speed all over the field should convince you.
The interior of the Miami defensive line established themselves right away with Matt Walters and William Joseph making the first two tackles of the game right at the line of scrimmage. The Nebraska defense answered with a Grant Wistrom sack of Ken Dorsey. In fact, after three series of action there were just 19 yards of total offense and exactly 3 punts.
With the good field position, Miami scored first on a Ken Dorsey touchdown pass to Ethenic Sands. The drive only went 54 yards, but it gave the Hurricanes a 7-0 lead. The first quarter would end with Miami nursing a 7-3 lead.
Nebraska finally put together their first truly successful drive of the game, though, to bridge the first and second quarters. Tommie Frazier's quickness and passing accuracy led to an impressive 83 yard touchdown drive that ended in a Lawrence Phillips two yard touchdown plunge. Frazier completed two big passes on the drive, including one on third down in which the senior quarterback fired to receiver Clester Johnson while nearly horizontal to the ground and in the grasp of sack-master Jerome McDougle.
Miami answered quickly by finally gaining significant yardage on the ground. Clinton Portis carried for 12 yards on the first play of the drive, and Frank Gore capped a hard nosed drive with a nifty 19 yard touchdown run.
Looking to add to a 14-10 lead late in the second quarter, Ken Dorsey made his lone mistake of the ball game. Looking for Jeremy Shockey over the middle, Dorsey underestimated linebacker Terrell Farley's athleticism and Farley leapt in the air to make the interception at his own 24 yard line.
Nebraska capitalized with a hard nosed drive of their own that saw I-Backs Lawrence Phillips and Ahman Green grind out yard after yard. The running game perfectly set up a Frazier play action pass to Jon Vedral for a 28 yard touchdown. Nebraska would take a 17-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.
FIRST QUARTERSecond Half:
8:47 MIA TD - Ethenic Sands 17 yard pass from Ken Dorsey
5:32 NEB FG - Kris Brown 37 yard Field Goal
13:41 NEB TD - Lawrence Phillips 2 yard run
9:02 MIA TD - Frank Gore 19 yard run
2:11 NEB TD - Jon Vedral 28 yard pass from Tommie Frazier
After picking up some much needed momentum just before halftime, Nebraska came out of the locker room and gave it all back. Ken Dorsey started putting some things together through the air, finding Shockey and Andre Johnson multiple times on the first two series of the second half. But the Blackshirts kept finding ways to make stops.
It wasn't until a costly interception thrown by Tommie Frazier that the floodgates opened. Dorsey went 5-for-6 on the ensuing possession, including a 17 yard touchdown pass to Shockey. Not only did the touchdown give Miami a 21-17 lead, it also showed that Dorsey was able to find holes in the Nebraska secondary and capitalize on them.
Tommie Frazier is one of the greatest college football players of all time, though, so you know Nebraska wasn't finished yet.
Frazier took things into his own hands early in the fourth quarter, calling his own number and keeping on the option and on quarterback draws while marching the Huskers down the field. He put Nebraska back on top with a 25 yard quarterback draw for a touchdown. Frazier finished with 57 rushing yards on the drive.
Ken Dorsey came up big again in answering Frazier's touchdown. Leading a brilliant, balanced drive, Clinton Portis and Dorsey traded off picking up first downs. On a play action pass on second and short, Dorsey pumped and fired a 33 yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson streaking down the right sideline.
The Hurricane drive chewed up 86 yards and over 5 minutes of game time, and clearly took a lot out of the Nebraska defense.
Tommie Frazier took the field again with 7 minutes left and needing just a field goal to regain the lead. He once again kept on the option and picked up 15 yards on first down. But linebackers Jonathan Vilma and Chris Campbell stepped up their game and forced a punt with three straight tackles in the backfield.
Nebraska was forced to punt and Miami answered with the controversial move to play it close to the vest. Larry Coker and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski abandoned the big play passing game that had worked so well in the second half in favor of the running game in hopes of running out the clock. Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee were stuffed on three straight plays.
That gave Tom Osborne's Huskers one final chance to put points on the board and take home the title. But with time winding down the Miami defense was able to pin their ears back and rush the passer, knowing that Nebraska was going to have to cut back significantly on their strength (the running game) in order to move the ball down the field.
Facing fourth and long and just seconds remaining on the clock, Frazier was left with no other options than a hail mary from his own 43 yard line. His pass was picked off by none other than Ed Reed, who returned it 88 yards for a meaningless touchdown that put the exclamation point on a great game and a great tournament.
7:47 MIA TD - Jeremy Shockey 17 yard pass from Dorsey
4:30 NEB FG - Brown 40 yard Field Goal
12:24 NEB TD - Frazier 25 yard run
7:07 MIA TD - Andre Johnson 33 yard pass from Dorsey
0:00 MIA TD - Ed Reed 88 yard interception return (no PAT)