The pinnacle of Miami’s badass-ery might have come in a season where Miami didn’t even claim a national title.
The 1990 Miami Hurricanes were arguably one of the most talented teams in school history to not win a championship. Led by Craig Erickson, Stephen McGuire, Leonard Conley, Leon Searcy, Randall Hill, and Lamar Thomas, the 1990 Hurricanes followed up a national championship season (in which Miami averaged an insane 454 yards per game) with another impressive performance. After dropping a season-opening shocker against Ty Detmer and the BYU Cougars, the Canes would fail to reach 30 points only once the rest of the season. Unfortunately, it came in a 29-20 loss at Notre Dame in the finale of the teams’ regular-season series.
Miami would finish #4 in the AP Poll after a 30-28 win over San Diego State in the season finale. Their consolation prize would be a matchup in the Cotton Bowl with #3 Texas. It was billed as, on paper, perhaps the most anticipated and exciting bowl game of the season.
Somebody forgot to tell the Longhorns.
From the opening kickoff, Miami tattooed the Horns. It might as well been with a branding iron in the shape of a "U". Chris Samuels field Carlos Huerta’s opening kickoff and was crushed at the 14-yard line by UM’s Robert Bailey. A woozy Samuels tried to wobble off the field and went back down to the turf.
Although the message was already sent, the intimidation occurred even before that. Miami players flooded onto the field as the Longhorns took the field, pointing at themselves and challenging their opponents.
And the Longhorns looked every part of beef for a Miami monster that chewed them up and spit them out.
Before the game, Texas offensive lineman Stan Thomas had plenty to say.
"[UM] had players wearing earrings on both ears and funny hats jumping up on stage," Thomas told the Sun-Sentinel. "They looked like typical gangsters. I thought I was in prison. They are real arrogant and cocky. They try to intimidate you. I’ll show them some real intimidation. I’ve been thinking of some good stuff to use."
He must have left it in the locker room. Russell Maryland tallied three sacks, bulling his way through the Longhorns’ outspoken Thomas on several occasions. On the day, Miami forced five Texas turnovers.
Offensively, Craig Erickson ended his Miami career in style, throwing for 272 yards and a then-Cotton Bowl record 4 touchdown passes. Wesley Carroll, a future Cincinnnati Bengal and New Orleans Saint, pulled in two of those in the first half as the Canes stormed to a 19-3 halftime lead.
While the Canes dominated the scoreboard and the stat sheet, Texas couldn’t overcome another stat – and gift – that Miami dominated: penalty yard. Miami finished with 16 penalties for a staggering 202 yards – both Cotton Bowl records.
But it didn’t matter. The Canes exulted. They strutted. They danced. The "Miami Rule" relating to personal fouls and player conduct was born because of this game.
And they beat the tar out of the Longhorns for 60 minutes.
The money shot came late in the third quarter. Randal Hill streaked past his defender and pulled in Erickson’s pass for a 48-yard touchdown. But Hill must have run 70 yards, up into the Cotton Bowl tunnel. As he made his way back to the field, he pulled out imaginary six-shooters and took aim at Longhorns.
It was 33-3. Miami would tack on touchdowns from Randy Bethel and Leonard Conley to finish with a 46-3 dismantling in what can only be described as the most dominating bowl game performance in school history, if not the most dominating performance in a single game over a top-tier foe in school history. Miami finished with a 5-0 edge in the turnover battle and a 272-55 advantage in the passing game.
Although Georgia Tech and Colorado split the national championship, Miami showed it was perhaps the most talented team in the country in the 1990 season. They would claim the school’s fourth national championship in eight years the following season.
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