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Who Was The Best Miami Team That Didn’t Win A National Championship?

Miami should have at least five more national championships. Which teams were the best that didn’t win?

Florida State Seminoles v Miami Hurricanes

The Miami Hurricanes are one of the legendary programs in college football history, winners of five national championships glowingly proudly in Coral Gables.

Though, one of the most frustrating things about UM, is that even with their five titles, they could have several more. Miami is no secret to heartbreaking moments, so today, I'm gonna list the best teams in Hurricanes history that didn’t win a national championship.


Of all the teams in Miami history, the 1990 squad may be one of the most interesting, and yet one of the most frustrating. Coming off a championship in 1989, Dennis Erickson and his team was gearing up for a repeat, and entered the 1990 season ranked #1 and was expected to roll to another title.

However, in week one, in Provo, the favored Hurricanes were upset by the upstart BYU Cougars 28-21, thanks to 406 passing yards by Ty Detmer. While their title hopes weren’t completely dashed due to that game, the Canes suffered another loss in October, when they fell to Notre Dame 29-20.

Miami finished the regular season 9-2, which included a 31-22 win over #2 FSU. In a three-game stretch that year, the Hurricanes outscored their opponents 132-12, but it wasn’t enough to give them a shot at another championship.

Instead, the #4 Canes were invited to play the #3 Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl. We all know this game, Miami flat-out embarrassed UT that day 46-3.

1990 will always be remembered as a year that the Hurricanes were probably the best team in college football, but due to several reasons, the title wasn’t theirs that season.


A team that doesn’t get enough credit for being great, and almost champions. All people remember is Lamar Thomas getting stripped in the Superdome against Alabama. This Miami squad went 11-0 during the regular season, including wins over #23 Iowa, #3 FSU, #7 Penn State and #8 Syracuse.

1992 was also the season that Gino Torretta won the Heisman Trophy, and this team also featured players like Micheal Barrow, Jessie Armstead, Kevin Williams and Mario Cristobal.

For some reason however, the team that everyone saw the first 11 games of the year, didn’t bother to show up when the national championship was on the line, as the Canes were thrashed 34-13 by the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.


Similar to the 1992 team, the ‘94 squad isn’t talked about nearly at all either. Even with players like Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp on defense, they still don’t get enough respect. After a week-three loss to Washington, Miami rebounded, winning eight-straight games, which included victories over #3 FSU, #13 Va Tech, #10 Syracuse and #25 Boston College.

In the game that would decide the national championship, at their own Orange Bowl in Miami with their home-crowd behind them, the Canes couldn’t get it done against Nebraska, losing 24-17.


Just because of how the Fiesta Bowl ended, many people believe this is the best team of them all, though I disagree. That’s not me saying this team wasn’t talented, because that’s just idiotic to even think.

In 2002, the Canes were looking to defend their crown and trying to repeat as champions. Their most impressive victory of the season came in week two, when Miami downed #6 Florida 41-16 in Gainesville. Still, they struggled against #12 FSU and #17 Pitt, and just weren’t as dominant as the 2001 team.

That being said, they still managed to make it to the championship game against Ohio State, and we all know what happened there.....


A lot of the older Canes fans and players are going to give me grief not putting the 1986 team at the top of the list, but hey, what are you gonna do? Dubbed as one of the best teams in college football history not to win a title, Jimmy Johnson’s squad was loaded.

The team included Heisman winner Vinny Testarverde, Michael Irvin, Bennie Blades, Jerome Brown, Melvin Bratton, Russell Maryland, Alonzo Highsmith, and many other household names.

An 11-0 regular season was highlighted by their 28-16 win over #1 Oklahoma, and also a 41-23 victory against #20 FSU. In those 11 games, the Hurricanes closest encounter was an eight-point win against UF. Miami’s defense allowed 20 points or more just once the entire season.

Sadly, in possibly the most heartbreaking defeat in school history, the championship wasn’t won in 1986, and Miami’s dreams were dashed by Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl, 14-10.


I will argue anyone on this right here, the 2000 Miami Hurricanes were not just the best team in UM history not to win a title, but maybe in all of college football history. A slip-up against Washington in week-two, and the BCS/NCAA having a vendetta against Miami is what was stopping this team from winning the national championship that year.

With an 11-1 record, this Canes team defeated #1 and defending champion FSU, #2 Virginia Tech and #7 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Seven times during the year, Miami scored 40 or more points. In their final four games of the season, the Canes outscored their opponents 150-33.

Reggie Wayne, Dan Morgan, Ed Reed, Jeremy Shockey, and so many more to name graced their presence with this team. As far as talent goes, I don’t think any other Canes team can touch the 2000 squad.