1987 Miami Hurricanes football
Miami Hurricanes logo.svg
Consensus national champion
Orange Bowl champion
Orange Bowl, W 20–14 vs. Oklahoma
CoachesNo. 1
APNo. 1
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorGary Stevens (5th season)
Offensive schemePro-style
Defensive coordinatorDave Wannstedt (2nd season)
Base defense4–3
Home stadiumMiami Orange Bowl
(Capacity: 75,500)
← 1986
1988 →

1987 NCAA Division I-A independents football records
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 1 Miami (FL)       12 0 0
No. 4 Syracuse       11 0 1
No. 2 Florida State       11 1 0
No. 15 South Carolina       8 4 0
Pittsburgh       8 4 0
Penn State       8 4 0
No. 17 Notre Dame       8 4 0
Southern Miss       6 5 0
Rutgers       6 5 0
Southwestern Louisiana       6 5 0
Memphis State       5 5 1
Northern Illinois       5 5 1
West Virginia       6 6 0
Tulane       6 6 0
Army       5 6 0
Boston College       5 6 0
East Carolina       5 6 0
Akron       4 7 0
Cincinnati       4 7 0
Louisville       3 7 1
Temple       3 8 0
Tulsa       3 8 0
Virginia Tech       2 9 0
Navy       2 9 0
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1987 Miami Hurricanes football team represented the University of Miami during the 1987 NCAA Division I-A football season. It was the Hurricanes' 62nd season of football. The Hurricanes were led by fourth-year head coach Jimmy Johnson and played their home games at the Orange Bowl. They finished the season 12–0 overall. They were invited to the Orange Bowl where they defeated Oklahoma, 20-14, to win the school's second national championship.


After taking over as head coach in 1984, Jimmy Johnson had a winning record, but some critics questioned whether he could gain a national championship.[citation needed]

In 1985, Miami finished the regular season 10-1, and had a chance to win the national title with Penn State's loss to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Needing a victory over Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl, Miami jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Tennessee then scored 35 unanswered to derail Miami's title hopes.

In 1986, Miami achieved a perfect 11-0 regular season record. Led by Heisman Trophy-winner Vinny Testaverde, a record breaking offense, and the 5th-ranked defense in the country, #1 Miami was a prohibitive favorite heading into its Fiesta Bowl matchup against #2 Penn State. However, Penn State was able to disrupt the Miami passing game and force the Hurricanes into seven turnovers. Penn State won the national championship with a 14-10 victory over Miami that was sealed when a Testaverde pass from the Penn State 6-yard line was intercepted in the endzone by linebacker Pete Giftopoulos with 0:18 left in the game.

Despite losing three key players (Testaverde, Alonzo Highsmith, and Jerome Brown) from the '86 squad who were selected within the first nine picks of the 1987 NFL Draft, 1987 was expected to be somewhat of a reloading year for Miami, which began the season ranked 10th in the nation by the AP poll.

By year's end, the Hurricanes had allowed a mere 125 points. Miami took down six ranked opponents that fall – including No. 20 Florida, No. 4 FSU, No. 10 Notre Dame and No. 1 Oklahoma. The Canes earned victories by an average of 23.9 points, scoring over 40 points on five different games.


September 51:00 pmNo. 20 FloridaNo. 10TBSW 31–477,224
September 264:00 pmat No. 10 ArkansasNo. 5ESPNW 51–755,310
October 32:30 pmat No. 4 Florida StateNo. 3CBSW 26–2562,561
October 107:30 pmMarylandNo. 3
  • Miami Orange Bowl
  • Miami, FL
W 46–1643,020
October 248:00 pmat CincinnatiNo. 3WPLGW 48–1020,011
October 3112:00 pmat East CarolinaNo. 3RaycomW 41–331,791
November 77:30 pmMiami (OH)No. 3
  • Miami Orange Bowl
  • Miami, FL
W 54–340,128
November 147:30 pmVirginia TechdaggerNo. 3
  • Miami Orange Bowl
  • Miami, FL (rivalry)
W 27–1340,105
November 217:30 pmToledoNo. 3
  • Miami Orange Bowl
  • Miami, FL
W 24–1437,010
November 283:30 pmNo. 10 Notre DameNo. 2
  • Miami Orange Bowl
  • Miami, FL
CBSW 24–076,640
December 58:00 pmNo. 8 South CarolinaNo. 2
  • Miami Orange Bowl
  • Miami, FL
ESPNW 20–1663,317
January 18:00 pmvs. No. 1 OklahomaNo. 2
NBCW 20–1474,760


Jimmy Johnson and the 1987 Miami Hurricanes team present President Ronald Reagan with a University of Miami jersey at The White House after winning the 1987 national championship, January 1988
Jimmy Johnson and the 1987 Miami Hurricanes team present President Ronald Reagan with a University of Miami jersey at The White House after winning the 1987 national championship, January 1988


1987 Miami Hurricanes football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
QB 4 Steve Walsh So
FB 5 Melvin Bratton
QB 7 Craig Erickson
QB 8 Greg Jones
WR 9 Brian Blades Sr
WR 11 Dale Dawkins
WR 13 Bret Velde
RB 20 Shannon Crowell Fr
RB 21 Alex Johnson Fr
RB 24 Warren Williams Sr
RB 25 Hilton Mobley Fr
RB 28 Leonard Conley Fr
FB 30 Darius Frazier
FB 31 Freddy Highsmith
WR 33 Brett Perriman Sr
RB 43 Cleveland Gary Jr
WR 47 Michael Irvin Jr
OL 52 Darren Bruce Jr
C 64 Rod Holder So
OL 75 John O'Neill Jr
G 79 Mike Sullivan Fr
WR 84 Rob Chudzinski Fr
TE 87 Alfredo Roberts Sr
Pos. # Name Class
DB 3 Randal Hill Fr
DB 6 Kenny Berry
DB 15 Jason Hicks
DB 17 Trevor Weeks Fr
DB 18 Tolbert Bain
DB 19 Darrell Fullington Sr
LB 22 Randy Shannon
CB 23 Robert Bailey Fr
DB 27 Michael Johnson
DB 29 Donald Ellis
RB 32 Alex Johnson
DB 36 Bennie Blades Sr
LB 45 George Mira Jr. Sr
DB 48 Bubba McDowell So
DE 54 Bill Hawkins Jr
DT 67 Russell Maryland Fr
DL 86 Derwin Jones Sr
DT 96 Cortez Kennedy So
DT 94 Greg Mark So
DL 97 Earnest Parish Jr
DE 96 Danny Stubbs Sr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K 1 Edgar Benes So
K 2 Sung Kim Fr
K 25 Greg Cox So
TE 82 Charles Henry Sr
P 38 Jeff Feagles Sr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Injured
  • Redshirt


Coaching staff

Name Position Seasons Alma mater
Jimmy Johnson Head coach 4th Arkansas (1965)
Gary Stevens Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks 8th John Carroll (1965)
Dave Wannstedt Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers 2nd Pittsburgh (1974)
Hubbard Alexander Wide receivers 9th Tennessee State (1962)
Joe Brodsky Running backs 10th Florida (1956)
Butch Davis Defensive line 4th Arkansas (1973)
Art Kehoe Assistant offensive line 3rd Miami (1982)
Don Soldinger Tight ends 4th Memphis (1967)
Tony Wise Offensive line 3rd Ithaca (1972)
Dave Campo Defensive backs 1st Central Connecticut State (1969)

Support staff

Name Position Seasons Alma mater
Bill Foran Strength & conditioning 3rd Central Michigan (1977)
Steve Hoffman Graduate assistant 3rd Dickinson (1981)
Ron Meeks Graduate assistant 2nd Arkansas State (1977)
Tommy Tuberville Graduate assistant 2nd Southern Arkansas (1976)

[citation needed]


Further information: 1987 NCAA Division I-A football rankings

Ranking movements
Legend: ██ Increase in ranking. ██ Decrease in ranking.
( ) = First place votes.
AP107653 (4)3 (6)3 (6)3 (6)3 (7)3 (7)3 (9)3 (8)2 (4)2 (6)2 (9)1 (57)
Coaches9767 (1)3 (1)3 (4)3 (5)3 (2)3 (1)3 (1)3 (1)3 (1)2 (2)2 (5)2 (8)1 (47)

Game summaries

No. 20 Florida

See also: 1987 Florida Gators football team and Florida–Miami football rivalry

Under the direction of sophomore quarterback Steve Walsh and a defense that returned nine starters, Miami opened the regular season with a win over rival Florida, 31–4. The game would prove to be the last in a series that had been played annually since 1944. The teams would not meet in the regular season again until the 2002 season.

[1] [2]

At No. 10 Arkansas

1 234Total
No. 5 Hurricanes 14 24310 51
No. 10 Razorbacks 0 007 7

See also: 1987 Arkansas Razorbacks football team

The victory over Florida was followed by a 51–7 victory over #10 Arkansas Razorbacks in Little Rock, which would catapult Miami to a #3 ranking.[3]

At No. 4 Florida State

1 234Total
No. 3 Hurricanes 3 0815 26
No. 4 Seminoles 0 1096 25

See also: 1987 Florida State Seminoles football team and Florida State–Miami football rivalry


Miami's rigorous early season schedule continued the next week with a showdown with #4 Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. The October 3 game featured not only high drama, but also an astounding 56 players who would go on to play in the NFL. Miami scored first with a second-quarter field goal, but Florida State, fielding a team many consider to be the best in school history, took control of the game after that. A 67-yard run by Florida State running back Sammie Smith was followed by a 1-yard touchdown run from Dayne Williams, giving FSU a 7-3 lead. A 36-yard field goal from Derek Schmidt pushed the Seminoles' lead to 10-3 at the half.

After Schmidt missed a third-quarter field goal wide right, Miami took over, but went three-and-out and was forced to punt. The ensuing punt by Jeff Feagles was blocked and returned by Florida State for a touchdown, increasing the Florida State lead to 16-3 (Schmidt missed the extra point). Miami was forced to punt again, and a big return by FSU's Deion Sanders put Florida State in position to add another Schmidt field goal to make the score 19-3.

With Miami having been unable to mount any offense to that point, the Hurricanes looked to be in dire straits late in the third quarter. Spurred on by an impassioned speech from receiver Michael Irvin, the Hurricanes were able to keep their focus and climbed back into the game when Walsh found a streaking Melvin Bratton for a 49-yard touchdown. Miami went for two, which they converted when Walsh was able to hook up with receiver Brian Blades, trimming the FSU lead to 19-11 heading into the fourth quarter.

The final quarter was filled with back-and-forth drama. Irvin started things off when he was on the receiving end of a 26-yard touchdown pass from Walsh. With the score now at 19-17, Miami again went for two, which Miami, again, converted, this time on a pass from Walsh to Warren Williams. With the game now tied at 19-19 and its 16-point lead evaporated, Florida State staged a drive of its own, taking the ball down to the Miami 17-yard line before quarterback Danny McManus fumbled the snap, which was recovered by Bennie Blades. Miami wasted little time in capitalizing on the miscue, as four plays later Walsh hooked up with Irvin for one of the most famous plays in University of Miami history.[citation needed] Walsh walked to the line, read the FSU defense, and called an audible for Irvin, who was appropriately nicknamed "The Playmaker" due to his penchant for making big plays. Walsh took a quick three-step drop and hung the ball up perfectly for Irvin on a fly route. Irvin was in double coverage, but was able to get behind the coverage, catch the pass, and take it 73-yards for a Miami touchdown. With 2:22 left to play, Miami led 26-19.

Florida State would not go meekly, though, as the Seminoles valiantly fought back after taking possession on their own 25-yard line. Before long, the Seminoles were in the endzone when McManus hit Ronald Lewis on a perfect corner route for 18-yards. With college football not having overtime at the time, Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden was faced with a decision: attempt the extra point and settle for a 26-26 tie, or attempt a two-point conversion and go for the win. Complicating matters was the fact that Schmidt, FSU's kicker, had looked shaky on this day, already missing on a field goal attempt and on an extra point attempt. Nevertheless, Bowden initially had decided to kick the extra point and settle for the tie, as he had stated[citation needed] when asked before the game what he would if he found himself in this exact predicament. But after the FSU offense protested and urged their coach to go for the win, Bowden changed his mind and decided to go for the two, betting both FSU's and Miami's national championship hopes on the outcome. FSU called a pass play. McManus took the snap, looked for a receiver, and then threw into the right corner of the endzone. The ball was underthrown and broken up by Miami defensive back Bubba McDowell before it could reach its intended target. With Miami up 26-25, Florida State attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but Miami recovered the ball with 0:42 left and was able to run out the clock, sealing the Hurricane victory.


See also: 1987 Maryland Terrapins football team

Having successfully negotiated its brutal early season schedule, Miami won its next four games with ease, beating Maryland (46–16), Cincinnati (48–10), East Carolina (41–3), and Miami (Ohio) (54–3).


At Cincinnati

See also: Cincinnati Bearcats football


At East Carolina

See also: 1987 East Carolina Pirates football team


Miami (OH)

See also: 1987 Miami Redskins football team


Virginia Tech

1 234Total
Hokies 0 1030 13
#3 Hurricanes 3 7314 27

See also: 1987 Virginia Tech Hokies football team and Miami–Virginia Tech football rivalry

The Hurricanes, a 38-point favorite, broke a 13-13 tie with 4:51 remaining on a 1-yard TD run by Melvin Bratton. Miami put the game out of reach by scoring the final touchdown with 34 seconds left to win 27-13.[11] This was Frank Beamer's first year as head coach at Virginia Tech. [12]


See also: 1987 Toledo Rockets football team


No. 10 Notre Dame

1 234Total
No. 10 Fighting Irish 0 000 0
No. 2 Hurricanes 0 1077 24

See also: 1987 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

Next up for the now 2nd-ranked Hurricanes was a date with #10 Notre Dame in Miami. Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz brought an upset minded Irish squad to the Orange Bowl, but they proved to be little match for Daniel Stubbs and a relentless Hurricane defense. Miami continued its dominance over Notre Dame, shutting out the Irish, 24–0, and beating them for the fourth straight time. It was also the first time Notre Dame had been shutout since 1983, when they were also shutout at the hands of the Hurricanes.


No. 8 South Carolina

1 234Total
No. 8 Gamecocks 6 703 16
No. 2 Hurricanes 7 760 20
  • Date: December 5, 1987
  • Location: Miami Orange Bowl,
  • Game start: 8:00 PM
  • Game attendance: 76,640
  • Game weather: 59 °F (15 °C), Clear, Wind S 10–15 mph (16–24 km/h)
  • Referee: Terry Monk
  • TV announcers (ESPN): Jim Kelly and Kevin Kiley

See also: 1987 South Carolina Gamecocks football team

Miami's final regular season game came at home against #8 South Carolina. South Carolina played a spirited game and gave the Hurricanes all they could handle. Eventually, Miami was able to walk away from the nail biter with a hard-fought 20–16 victory, capping an 11–0 regular season.


Vs. No. 1 Oklahoma (Orange Bowl)

Miami (FL) vs. Oklahoma
1 234Total
No. 2 Hurricanes 7 0103 20
No. 1 Sooners 0 707 14

Main article: 1988 Orange Bowl

See also: 1987 Oklahoma Sooners football team


The 1988 Orange Bowl featured "Game of the Century"-type billing[citation needed] as the undefeated and top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners faced off against undefeated and second-ranked Miami for the national championship.[17] Adding to the hype was the recent on-field history between the teams. Oklahoma was a dominant force in college football, winning the national championship in 1985 and losing just one game in each of the preceding two years. Miami, though, had proven to be the thorn in Oklahoma's side, as the Sooners' losses in '85 and '86 had both come at the hands of Miami. Now, with the national championship on the line, Miami sought to make it three-losses-in-three-years for Oklahoma, and also their first postseason bowl win under Jimmy Johnson after three straight bowl losses, two in which they struggled and lost their chances to win the national championships. Further fuel for the fire was provided by the growing personal animosity between former Arkansas player Johnson and Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer, who was also a former Arkansas player.

Miami's vaunted defense set the tone early, forcing the Sooners to punt on their first five possessions. Meanwhile, Walsh settled into a nice rhythm, putting Miami on the board first with a 30-yard touchdown pass to fullback Melvin Bratton, who caught 9 passes for 102 yards for the game. Oklahoma got on the board with a second-quarter touchdown to tie things up, but Miami responded with 10 unanswered third quarter points, coming on an Orange Bowl record 56-yard field goal by kicker Greg Cox and a 23-yard touchdown pass from Walsh to Irvin. Oklahoma would add a fourth-quarter touchdown to trim the score to 20–14, but Miami held on for the win and the national championship. Johnson received a Gatorade bath, which messed his trademark impeccably coiffed hair, and was carried off the field, having finally won "the big one" at Miami.

The Hurricane defense held Oklahoma to just 255 yards of offense, while Walsh's efficient play (18 of 30, 209 yards, 2 touchdowns) paced the Hurricane offense. Middle linebacker Bernard "Tiger" Clark- a backup middle linebacker who was forced to start after starting MLB George Mira Jr. was suspended for failing a drug test- was named the MVP of the Orange Bowl after recording 14 tackles (12 unassisted).

With the win, Miami completed its first ever undefeated season. In winning their second national championship, the Canes once again had to go through the nation's top-ranked team at the Orange Bowl, just as they had done in 1983.

Awards and honors

Consensus All-Americans

Awards finalists

Bold indicates winners

Jack Harding University of Miami MVP Award

1988 NFL Draft

See also: 1988 NFL Draft

A total of 12 Hurricanes were drafted by 10 different franchises in 1988, including three wide receivers in the first 52 picks.

Round Pick Player Position NFL Club
1 3 Bennie Blades S Detroit Lions
1 11 Michael Irvin WR Dallas Cowboys
2 33 Danny Stubbs OLB San Francisco 49ers
2 49 Brian Blades WR Seattle Seahawks
2 52 Brett Perriman WR New Orleans Saints
3 56 Dan Sileo DT Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3 63 Matt Patchan OT Philadelphia Eagles
5 124 Darrell Fullington S Minnesota Vikings
6 155 Warren Williams RB Pittsburgh Steelers
8 197 Alfredo Roberts TE Kansas City Chiefs
10 269 Derwin Jones DE Seattle Seahawks
12 331 George Mira Jr. LB San Francisco 49ers


  1. ^ "Miami Rings Florida's Bell and Trounces Gators, 31-4". Los Angeles Times. September 6, 1987. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  2. ^ "Miami Grand In Finale, 31-4 'Canes' Rush Weathers Bell As Series Ends". Orlando Sentinel. September 6, 1987. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  3. ^ "COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SOUTHEAST; Miami Trounces Arkansas 51-7". The New York Times. September 27, 1987. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  4. ^ "Greatest Games - Miami-Florida State, 1987". College Football News. August 18, 2011. Archived from the original on December 26, 2014. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  5. ^ "Flashback: Miami-Florida State 1987". ABC Sports. October 9, 2001. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  6. ^ "The 1987 Miami-FSU game: A true October Classic". Fox Sports. October 8, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  7. ^ "COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SOUTH; L.S.U. Surges Past Georgia; Miami 46, Maryland 16". The New York Times. October 11, 1987. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  8. ^ "Hurricanes Wipe Out Cincinnati". Orlando Sentinel. October 25, 1987. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "Blades detonates the "Bomb Squad"". The Palm Beach Post. November 1, 1987. p. 52. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "Hurricanes rout other Miami 54-3". The Palm Beach Post. November 8, 1987. p. 53. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "No. 3 Miami wins". The Pantagraph. November 15, 1987. p. 7. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  12. ^ Gainesville Sun. 1987 Nov 15. Retrieved 2019-Jan-06.
  13. ^ "No. 3 Miami Struggles for 24-14 Victory". Los Angeles Times. November 22, 1987. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  14. ^ "Miami Is Too Much for Irish: Hurricanes Put the Big Hit on Brown & Co., 24-0". Los Angeles Times. November 29, 1987. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  15. ^ "COLLEGE FOOTBALL; Miami Survives By 20-16". The New York Times. December 6, 1987. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  16. ^ "Orange Bowl; Hurricanes Overwhelm the Sooners to Claim No. 1". The New York Times. January 2, 1988. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 28, 2006. Retrieved October 27, 2006.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Do You Know Which Team Has the Most College Football Championships?".