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10 Greatest Miami Hurricanes Teams of All Time


After beating North Carolina 24-19 on Saturday, Miami (7-0, 5-0 ACC) is now ranked ninth in the AP poll and sixth by the coaches. The Hurricanes have a showdown with Virginia Tech on Saturday, followed by a visit from Notre Dame, but the potential is there for this to be a truly memorable season.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Miami

With Miami trying to claim its first ACC Coastal Division title and first-ever ACC championship, do these Hurricanes have what it takes to finish the deal? If they do, there’s a chance they could wind up on this list of the greatest teams in program history. Considering this group includes five national champions, that alone would be no small feat.

10. 1990

Record: 10-2

Finished: Beat Texas 46-3 in the Cotton Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 3

The 1990 season was a hot mess that saw the top-ranked team lose five times and the national championship split by 11-1-1 Colorado and 11-0-1 Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes’ two losses came against BYU, which was led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Ty Detmer, and Notre Dame, who finished in the top 10. Miami then closed the season with a fierce beatdown of No. 3 Texas in the Cotton Bowl to finish ranked only behind Colorado and Georgia Tech.

9. 1986

Record: 11-1

Finished: Lost to Penn State 14-10 in Fiesta Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 2

With an offense led by Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde and a defense spearheaded by Jerome Brown, Miami cruised to an 11-0 regular season and a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown with Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. A book could be written on the hoopla surrounding this game, but in the end, Penn State used great defense and ball control to beat the Canes.

8. 2000

Record: 11-1

Finished: Beat Florida 37-20 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 2

The U returned to legendary form as Miami went 11-1, only losing to Washington and beating defending national champion Florida State. However, at the end of the season, the BCS computer rankings gave the Seminoles the opportunity to challenge Oklahoma for the national title. The controversy over this move led the BCS to add a “quality win” bonus to its formula.

7. 1988

Record: 11-1

Finished: Beat Nebraska 23-3 in Orange Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 2

Although the 1988 squad did not repeat as national champions, they came as close as any team could. Five of its 11 wins were against ranked opponents and its only blemish was a 31-30 loss to eventual national champion Notre Dame in South Bend in the infamous “Catholics vs. Convicts” game.

6. 2002

Record: 12-1

Finished: Lost to Ohio State 31-24 in Fiesta Bowl

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Final Ranking: No. 2

The Hurricanes looked to repeat as national champions, rolling through an unbeaten regular season to face Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship. Had it not been for one of the worst officiating calls in college football history, they would have had back-to-back titles.

5. 1989

Record: 11-1

Finished: Beat Alabama 33-25 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

Miami’s national title hopes appeared to be dashed by a 24-10 loss to Florida State loss in the middle of the season. Fortunately, the Canes had the chance at redemption in the final regular season game with defending national champion and top-ranked Notre Dame, who was riding a 22-game winning streak. They took the most of the opportunity, beating the Irish 27-10 to move up to No. 2. Miami then dispatched Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Notre Dame beat No. 1 Colorado to give The U its third national championship.

4. 1983

Record: 11-1

Finished: Beat Nebraska 31-30 in the Orange Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

The first great team in Miami history started the season with a 28-3 loss Florida in Gainesville. But then they reeled off 10 straight wins to earn a spot against unbeaten and top-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. There, the Bernie Kosar-led Canes methodically took a 31-17 fourth quarter lead against the Huskers and held on to win 31-30 in dramatic fashion. The win helped move Miami from the No. 5 ranking to the top spot to claim the school’s first national title.

3. 1991

Record: 12-0

Finished: Beat Nebraska 22-0 in the Orange Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

Loaded with five All-Americans and People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” (Dwayne Johnson), the 1991 squad beat all but three of its opponents by 20 points or more. Were they the best team in the country? That’s still the subject of debate, as Washington also went undefeated in similarly dominant fashion. Today, they would have met in the College Football Playoff. Back then, the AP Poll named Miami national champion and the Coaches Poll gave Washington the top spot.

2. 1987

Record: 12-0

Finished: Beat Oklahoma 20-14 in the Orange Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

The irony is that this season was expected to be somewhat of a rebuilding year for the Hurricanes. Instead, Miami only allowed 125 points and beat six ranked opponents on its way to a perfect season. In the Orange Bowl, the Canes held No. 1 Oklahoma’s vaunted Wishbone to less than 200 rushing yards to win 20-14, giving head coach Jimmy Johnson his first and only national title.

1. 2001

Record: 12-0

Finished: Beat Nebraska 37-14 in Rose Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

Not only is this the best team in Miami history, it is probably the greatest college football team of all time. It had 17 first-round draft picks and the third-best offense and top-ranked defense that season. When fans talk about the greatness of a college football team, the 2001 Hurricanes are the standard.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.