1988 Orange Bowl
54th Orange Bowl
National Championship Game
1234 Total
Miami 70103 20
Oklahoma 0707 14
DateJanuary 1, 1988
StadiumOrange Bowl
LocationMiami, Florida
MVPBernard Clark (Miami LB)
Darrell Reed (Oklahoma DE)
FavoriteOklahoma by 3 points[1]
RefereeBill McDonald (CIFOA)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersDon Criqui, Bob Trumpy,
and Tom Hammond
Orange Bowl
 < 1987  1989
College Football Championship Game
 < 1987 1989

The 1988 Orange Bowl was the 54th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on Friday, January 1. Part of the 1987–88 bowl game season, it matched undefeated teams: the independent and second-ranked Miami Hurricanes and the #1 Oklahoma Sooners of the Big Eight Conference.

Miami was led by head coach Jimmy Johnson and Oklahoma by Barry Switzer.[2] A slight underdog on their home field,[1] Miami won 20–14.[3][4]

To date, it is the only time the opposing head coaches from a college national championship football game each later served as head coach of the same professional football team, and won the Super Bowl with that team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Orange Bowl

Jimmy Johnson and the 1987 Miami Hurricanes football team present President Ronald Reagan with a University of Miami jersey at The White House after defeating Oklahoma in the 54th Orange Bowl to win their second national championship in the 1987 season, January 1988

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.[5] 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 a 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 four years earlier.


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter

MOP: Bernard Clark (Miami LB), Darrell Reed (Oklahoma DE)


Statistics    Miami    Oklahoma
First Downs 15 13
Rushes-Yards 38–72 53–179
Passing Yards 209 76
Passes (C–A–I) 18–30–1 5–13–0
Total Offense 68–281 66–255
Return yards 7 22
Punts–Avg. 6–44.7 8–39.0
Fumbles–Lost 0–0 4–2
Turnovers 1 2
Penalties–Yards 8–85 5–39
Time of possession 32:08 27:52


  1. ^ a b "The latest line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 1, 1988. p. 28.
  2. ^ a b "Orange Bowl; Hurricanes Overwhelm the Sooners to Claim No. 1". The New York Times. January 2, 1988. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Miami leaves no doubt its No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 2, 1988. p. 1B.
  4. ^ Keidan, Bruce (January 2, 1988). "Miami tops Oklahoma in duel for No. 1". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 21.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 28, 2006. Retrieved October 5, 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "1988 | Orange Bowl". game.orangebowl.org. Retrieved October 5, 2016.