Rough Waters: A Detailed Look at the Alabama-Miami Series
Finally! Football is here, and “Miami Hate Week” is alive. Surprisingly, this will be the first time since the 1993 Sugar Bowl that the Crimson Tide has met the “U” on the gridiron. To put that in perspective, current 18-year-old freshmen were born a decade after the last time these two teams met.
Overall, Alabama is 14-3 against the Hurricanes, and by looking at the series, you can tell the greater story of college football - teams that ruled different decades during the 20th century.
‘Bama first met the University of Miami in south Florida in 1941. In fact, eight of the first 10 meetings took place in Miami.
During the ’40s, UA took victories in ‘41 and ‘47, beating the team 21-7 and 21-6.
Miami turned the tide in the ’50s, snatching two of three meetings with Alabama.
Then, in 1958, the Crimson Tide hired Paul “Bear” Bryant as their head coach, and the momentum swung in favor of ‘Bama for the foreseeable future.
The 1960s brought the start of some immense success for Alabama. Between 1962 and 1969, UA went 4-0 against Miami and rolled to three national championships, effectively becoming one of the country’s newest dynasties.
Entering the 1970s, the Crimson Tide was 7-2 against the Hurricanes. In four straight matchups from 1970-1974, Alabama defeated the south Florida team by a combined score of 134-3. During this time, the Crimson Tide won another national title.
At the tail end of the ‘70s, Alabama capped off a perfect decade against the Hurricanes, beating them 36-0 in ‘77 and 30-0 in ‘79. That latter of which led to another national title a few weeks later.
Meanwhile, in Dade County, Florida, a variety of coaches were building up the ‘Canes to be one of the best football powerhouses of the ’80s.
While they didn’t play at all during this decade, Miami rose to national prominence. From 1980 until 1989, the “U” won a collective 99 games out of 119 - a winning percentage of 83.2%. In the early ‘80s, legendary Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger led the team to a national championship and two bowl victories. Taking over for Schnellenberger in 1984 was Jimmy Johnson, the eventual coach of two Super Bowl-winning Dallas Cowboys. Johnson was a part of four 10-win seasons, two Orange Bowl victories, a Heisman trophy winner in Vinny Testaverde and a national championship.
After Johnson’s stint, Miami continued their exponential growth by hiring Dennis Erickson, who coached them to the 1989 national championship.
Finally, after 11 years, the two powerhouses met again, this time in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. In a tight game, the Hurricanes defeated Alabama 33-25 for the ‘89 national title. This was Miami’s fourth championship in nine years and their first victory over the Tide since 1955.
Alabama’s revenge finally came to fruition in the 1993 Sugar Bowl, three seasons later. Led by Heisman-winning quarterback Gino Torretta, Miami arrived in New Orleans ranked No. 1 in the country. The team was 11-0 and were eight-point favorites over the Crimson Tide. In addition, the Hurricanes were on a 29-game winning streak.
Throughout the game, ‘Bama dismantled the high-powered Miami offense by intercepting Torretta three times. One of the picks, made by George Teague, was returned for a pick-six.
Teague also made one of the most famous plays in Alabama history when he ran down Lamar Thomas, a Miami receiver, and stripped the ball.
On offense, Alabama rushed for 267 yards and three touchdowns. The Crimson Tide outlasted the ‘Canes and defeated them 34-13 for the 12th national title in school history.
It’s been 28 years since that game. Since then, both Alabama and Miami have experienced separate dynasties.
From 2000-2003, the Hurricanes accumulated a record of 46-4 with two bowl victories and a national championship in 2001- the team’s fifth title.
Nick Saban took over in 2007, and the rest is history for Alabama fans. Six national titles, three Heisman trophies, and a multitude of other awards and victories led the Crimson Tide to where they now sit.
On Saturday, ‘Bama and the “U” will once again take battle. Like the 17 previous matchups, this game will surely end in history.
College students aged 18-22 have never seen these two bluebloods take the field against one another, so this season opener will be something that young Alabama fans will never forget.
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