Photos by Chris Dorwart // Contributing Photographer
The Hurricanes, down 34-24 midway through the fourth quarter, embarked on one last desperate drive downfield. With the Canes facing a fourth-and-four at the Nebraska 35-yard line, Brad Kaaya threw right into the corner’s hands and was picked off.
By this point, the Cornhuskers, their fans, and especially their coach Bo Pelini, were fired up after a back-and-forth matchup with two fights breaking out in the second half. Nebraska went on to beat Miami 41-31.
Miami’s first-half offense rarely showed any signs of growing pains, aside from two delay-of-game penalties. Kaaya finished throwing 28 of 42 for 359 yards; he has back-to-back 340-yard performances this season.
Throughout the game, Miami’s biggest problem was decoding the strength and speed of Ameer Abdullah, one of college football’s best running backs. The senior tallied 232 all-purpose yards and passed the legendary Johnny Rogers on Nebraska’s all-time all-purpose yardage rankings.
Miami did take advantage of the few mistakes Nebraska made. The defense read the ever-popular fake hand-off from Tommy Armstrong Jr. to Abdullah, allowing Deon Bush to pop Armstrong and force a fumble that Anthony Chickillo recovered.
In the third quarter, Tommy Armstrong threw when the running game was working, and Tracy Howard picked him off. With Miami down 24-21, Duke Johnson fumbled at the Nebraska 43-yard line, and Josh Mitchell ran all the way back for a Huskers touchdown.
It appeared to be over on the next drive when Kaaya was picked off by Nate Gerry in Miami territory, but the Huskers were flagged for roughing the passer. Offsetting personal foul flags were thrown after a fight broke out, but coach Pelini said he was furious that the roughing-the-passer flag was thrown after the interception. Miami kept the ball, but could only muster a 34-yard field goal by Michael Badgley.
A record crowd of 91,585 people came out to Memorial Stadium Saturday to honor the National Championship team; surprising for a game that was not against the then-compelling rivalries of Oklahoma and Colorado. Appropriately, the present-day Huskers responded by beating the same team the ’94 team beat to win the Orange Bowl: Miami.
Kaaya threw touchdowns to Clive Walford, Braxton Berrios and Malcolm Lewis. Lewis made a truly terrific catch in the end zone. Johnson rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown. This was the first game in which Miami didn’t win when Johnson rushed for a touchdown.
Defensively, the Canes allowed 343 yards on the ground. This marks the third time this calendar year that the Canes have allowed 300 rushing yards, the other two games being last season’s Georgia Tech and Duke games.