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BCS SADDLED US WITH POOR GAME.

Byline: PAUL OBERJUERGE

PASADENA - The shame of this Husker-shucking? It's not like no one saw it coming.

Colorado 62, Nebraska 36. On Nov. 23, the last time Nebraska suited up.

Hello That was one Big Red warning flag, kids, one that went unheeded by the Bowl Championship Series computers that masticated a season's worth of results and spit out ``Miami vs. Nebraska'' for the national championship.

So instead of Oregon or Florida or Tennessee or anyone with a prayer of a ghost of a chance of making this a game, unbeaten and top-ranked Miami was served up Nebraska's slow, predictable, defensively porous Cornhuskers in the Rose Bowl on Thursday night, and it was something less than must-see TV.

Final score: Miami 37, Nebraska 14, and it wasn't that close.

``It was not the dream game everyone hoped for,'' Nebraska coach Frank Solich conceded.

As if we expected a dream game from a team that let Colorado hang 62 on them. Then gave up 34 more in the first two quarters Thursday night. That's 96 points allowed in six quarters, guys. Ack.

How was Miami better?

Where would you like to begin?

Perhaps with the defensive line, where the Hurricanes' largely unheralded front four manhandled Nebraska's O-line, pride of the Big Red program. Miami's William Joseph and Matt Walters might be unknown to the football public, but Nebraska's offense saw them up close running around in the Cornhuskers backfield. Back to the weight room, Huskers.

Perhaps at linebacker, where Miami's Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams took turns lighting up Nebraska ball-carriers while Nebraska's linebackers did ... well, what did they do?

Maybe at receiver, where Miami arrived with Andre Johnson and some other fellows who can run the deep route, guys Nebraska couldn't cover with a tarp, and a tight end named Jeremy Shockey who was open all night.

Or even at quarterback, where you might think Nebraska would have an advantage, with Heisman winner Crouch. As it worked out, Miami's Ken Dorsey carved up the gasping Nebraska secondary for 362 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Crouch demonstrated anew just how pathetic an option quarterback can look when his team gets down three touchdowns 18 minutes into a game.

Size, speed, coaching, scheme ... advantage Miami.

By the end of the season, we all understood this Nebraska team was flawed. Fatally flawed against a competent opponent.

Nebraska couldn't really throw the ball, which left it helpless against a team that could handle its option offense. You know how third-and-2 is a passing down in the NFL? At Nebraska, fourth-and-7 is just another rushing down.

Nebraska also cannot defend the pass. It did not have the personnel to pressure Miami's quarterback, nor did it have the skill in the secondary to cover competent receivers one-on-one if it committed itself to blitzing.

It got worse. To stop the run, which Nebraska never did against Colorado, it entered Thursday's game with seven or eight defenders in the box. That left its modestly talented DBs all alone chasing Miami's big, sure-handed receivers. Things got predictably ugly, and Dorsey's 362 passing yards set a school record for a bowl game.

Miami started a bit slow, with a punt and a turnover, but then the Hurricanes took a fumble, Dorsey dropped back and threw to Johnson running alone on a streak, and there was a 49-yard scoring play.

Faster than you could say ``lousy matchup'' Miami was up 34-0 in the second quarter, and we all were wondering who would get voted off in Thursday's episode of ``Survivor Africa.''

By the time the first half was over, so was the game. Miami had 34 points and 320 yards to Nebraska's zero and 119. Oh, and 11 Nebraska plays had gone for negative yardage. Not the way a team that runs the ball is going to win.

You didn't need to be Pop Warner to realize Nebraska had zero chance of coming back. Against good teams, the Cornhuskers need eight minutes to mount a scoring drive. And Miami had demonstrated it could score seemingly at will.

Make no mistake. Miami is good. Very good. Folks who have followed the Hurricanes believe this is their fastest team. Perhaps their most skilled, as well. Butch Davis, former Miami coach now running the Cleveland Browns, suggests as many as 40 Hurricanes who suited up Thursday will have a chance to play in the National Football League.

``That's an outstanding football team in all areas,'' Nebraska's Solich said.

How good, we might never know. Miami didn't play the toughest schedule in collegiate history. The 'Canes had Rutgers, Troy State and Temple on the schedule, and they needed breaks bordering on the bizarre to survive Boston College and Virginia Tech.

They did seem to hit their stride late. There was that 59-0 nuking of Syracuse and the 65-7 rout of Washington. And the Rose Bowl thrashing of the Corn People.

``We played that way a lot all year long,'' Miami coach Frank Coker said. ``When we hit on all cylinders, we're a very, very good football team.''

They looked the part Thursday night. What most of us had hoped for, though, was a very, very good football team on the other side of the ball, as well, and Nebraska didn't fill the bill. As we knew way back on Nov. 23, when we got that score from Boulder the BCS computer seemed to conveniently forget: Colorado 62, Nebraska 36.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 4, 2002
Words:905
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