This is the a series where I will be exploring future non-conference opponents that I would like to see Miami face down the road. This list is based on the likelihood of actually happening, the prestige of the opponent, and the potential benefits (i.e., recruiting exposure) that could come from it. I’m not including Florida and Notre Dame on this list because A) Miami already is set to face them in the coming years, and B) they are major rivals and I would OBVIOUSLY be in favor of facing either of them routinely.
#10 - Michigan
#9 - UCF
#8 - UCLA
Overview: This was it. This was the game of the 1980s for many intents and purposes. Brian Bosworth, the Boz. Jamelle Holieway. Keith Jackson. Spencer Tillman. There was no doubt that OU was supremely talented, as evidenced by their constant contention for the national title. But no matter how good they were then, Miami was always a little better. In 1985, Miami went to Norman for a #1 vs. #2 showdown and delivered a thorough 27-14 beating of the Sooners. Troy Aikman suffered a broken ankle in the second quarter of that game. However, OU would rally their season behind Holieway, capturing the national title after beating #1 Penn State in the Orange Bowl, coupled with Miami’s Sugar Bowl loss to Tennessee.
Miami would reestablish its dominance the following year, beating #1 OU 28-16 in the Orange Bowl on September 27, 1986 in what would ultimately serve as Vinny Testaverde’s Heisman game. Testaverde threw four touchdowns that afternoon. The game also came the day after Miami reportedly pulled off some hijinx at the OU team hotel the night before. That always helps spice up a rivalry.
And Miami clinched their second national title the following season with a 20-14 win over the Sooners in the Orange Bowl. It was their third win over OU in as many seasons, and a culmination of what had been building for four years under Jimmy Johnson. It was also the last time the teams would play for another 20 years.
The schools renewed a home-and-home schedule in 2007 and 2009. The front end was a disaster for UM in Norman, with the Canes suffering a 51-13 shellacking. The return date in 2009 turned out to be a classic. After two early Jacory Harris interceptions and a 10-0 deficit, Miami rallied. Harris found Jimmy Graham, Dedrick Epps, and Travis Benjamin for touchdowns, and Miami surged ahead 21-10 in the third quarter. They’d hang on 21-20 after the defense held OU to a field goal with under 5 minutes to play, and the offense ran out the clock.
All-time record: Miami 4-3
First and last meetings: Oklahoma 24-20 (10/6/73); Miami 21-20 (10/3/09)
Potential for recruiting: Low-to-moderate. Having significantly different recruiting bases, these schools don’t often find themselves duking it out over the same players regularly. That’s not to say that OU doesn’t or won’t dip into south Florida to pluck 4 and 5-star players. They have 3 players from south Florida and 3 more from Tampa-Lakeland, by my count. Thus, being able to win marquee games like Oklahoma helps show that Miami is on the way to, and on the doorstep of, returning to the upper tier of college football. That, in turn, helps keep those top players at home.
Likelihood of happening: Moderate. It often seems like, with schools that have historical ties and have played a number of times before, they find a way to do it again. This matchup is a salute to great days from yesterday, and serves the interests of both teams. It gives Oklahoma a presence in south Florida, where they’ve made had some success. It also gives Miami a chance to prove they can compete with an elite name that’s not quite reached the unbeatable level that we’ve seen from Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State over the past five or six years.
These are two teams that represent different but outstanding brands of college football. They’re as different regionally as they could be. But together, they make for an interesting and entertaining brand of football. I hope they can find a way to make it happen again over the next decade.
For all of the foregoing reasons, I think Oklahoma would be an excellent non-conference addition for the Canes, and they rank #7 on my list.