2001 ROSE BOWL
No. 1 Miami (11-0) vs. No. 2 Nebraska (11-1)
LINE: Miami –9.5
SERIES HISTORY: Nebraska leads 5-4
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Hurricanes appearance in the No. 1-No. 2 title game is the second by a Big East conference squad since the BCS system was put in place in 1998 (Virginia Tech played Florida State in the 1999 Sugar Bowl) ... Miami is 15-12 all-time in bowl competition and has reached the postseason in 17 of the last 19 seasons going back to 1983 ... UM has outscored Nebraska 127-93 in five bowl games and 187-168 overall. The teams first met in the 1962 Gotham Bowl with Nebraska prevailing 36-34 ... The Hurricanes first bowl outing in school history: 1934 Palm Festival, Duquesne 33, Miami 7.
OUTLOOK: Playing the Cornhuskers in an attempt at one for the ‘thumb' just might fit the Miami perfectly. The Hurricanes ability to dominate on both sides of the line of scrimmage, especially with their massive offensive line, will be a daunting task for a Nebraska team that was pushed around in a 62-36 loss at Colorado.
Offensively, the Hurricanes posses the kind of balance that makes defensive coordinators sick. Kenny Dorsey probably could have had what Eric Crouch does, but the Hurricanes didn't need to throw the ball at will to move the ball and get Dorsey the Heisman. And the same philosophy should work against Nebraska. Miami will pound Clinton Portis at the Cornhuskers front before trying to take the long shots with their physical and speedy receivers. The few times Dorsey has been pressured this season, he hasn't responded well. Plain and simple, Dorsey gets a little ‘happy feet' back there when the heat is on. A little pressure from the Huskers D-front is the only chance Nebraska of keeping things interesting.
The Hurricanes defense is faster than any Nebraska has faced this season, so going strictly with the option won't cut it. Nebraska will no doubt come out and go right at the middle of the Hurricanes defensive-line, but mixing in play-action passes and miss direction is critical for them to move the ball. Having tight end Tracy Wistrom back for the Rose Bowl is huge for the Huskers. Will Nebraska have a few new wrinkles and trickery on offense for Miami? They will need both to pull off the upset.
KEY MATCHUP: Nebraska Tight End Grant Winstrom (Sr.) vs. Miami Linebacker Jon Vilma (So.): Winstrom could indeed be the key to the Huskers offensive success against the Hurricanes. The 6-5, 240-pounder (21 catches, 323 yards, 15.4 ypc) is a big target and undoubtedly Crouch's favorite one. Should the Huskers run the ball effectively, the prospects of the play-action pass will strengthen with Winstrom the main option. Miami . Nebraska love to delay Winstrom of the line of scrimmage which could work against a speedy UM unit. Winstom has been plagued all season with ankle and knee problems. Will he be healthy enough to be productive?
Vilma, the Hurricanes team leader with 73 tackles, has a knack for the ball and the speed to stay up with a player of Winstrom's status. He is as adequate a pass defender as he is at filling up the gaps and stopping the run. Winstrom will have his hands full in trying to get away from the 6-2, 211 pounder, who studies more film than just about any other UM player and runs full tilt all the time. Two things favor Vilma: the uncertainty of Winstrom's health and the help he will be getting from Ed Reed and friends in slowing down the big TE.
PREDICTION: Party for five ... Miami 31, Nebraska 10
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