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On This Date in Sports: September 17, 1988: The U Stuns the Big House

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Top-ranked Miami rallies to stun #15 Michigan 31-30, scoring 17 unanswered points in the final 5:23 at Ann Arbor. The Hurricanes looked strong early, leading 14-6 early in the second quarter. However, Michigan scored twice and took the lead into half time. The Wolverines remained in control, scoring 24 unanswered points before Miami go back on track. The Hurricanes scored two touchdowns with Carlos Huerta hitting the game-winning field goal with 43 seconds left.

 Miami was the power in college football, after losing the National Championship Game, the Hurricanes went unbeaten in 1987 and beat Oklahoma to win their second national title. Ranked #1 under Jimmy Johnson. After opening the season with a 31-0 win over #6 Florida State, the Hurricanes faced their first test on the road as they went to the Big House, for a game against #15 Michigan. Michigan had been ranked #9 but suffered a gut-wrenching loss to Notre Dame in the opener.

 The Hurricanes, with a 13-game winning streak, faced a hostile crowd of 105,834 in Ann Arbor for the first home game of the season as Bo Schembechler entered his 20th season as coach at Michigan. Michigan beat Miami 22-14 in 1984, the only previous meeting between the schools. The Wolverines scored first as Mike Gillette hit a 22-yard field goal. The Hurricanes showed the ability to complete drives, as Steve Walsh had a 49-yard touchdown pass to Cleveland Gary.

 In the second quarter, Michigan got a 30-yard field goal from Gillette, while Gary scored from the one to give Miami a 14-6 lead. From there the game turned as Michigan began a 24-0. Jeffrey Brown caught a five-yard pass from Michael Taylor to make it 14-12, as the Wolverines' two-point attempt failed. John Kolesar caught an 18-yard pass late in the second quarter to give Michigan the lead, as Chris Horn punched in the two-point try to make it a 20-14 lead.  Michigan had the only score of the third quarter with a 29-yard field goal by Mike Gillette. In the fourth quarter, Michael Taylor had a 16-yard scoring pass to Chris Calloway that seemingly put the game out of reach at 30-14, as Miami’s vaunted offense had been bogged down since early in the second quarter.  

 With 5:23 left Miami began their comeback as Rob Chudzinski caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Steve Walsh. Dale Dawkins caught a pass for the two-point try, making it a one-score game at 30-22. On their next possession, the Hurricanes scored again as Cleveland Gary scored his third touchdown of the game on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Walsh with 2:58 left. Miami was unable to tie the game, as the two-point try failed. Facing desperation, Bobby Harden of Miami recovered an on-side-kick and were suddenly in a position to win the game. With 43 seconds left, Carlos Huerta hit a 29-yard field goal giving Miami a 31-30 that would prove to be the winning margin.

 The Hurricanes 17-game winning streak would end a month later with a 31-30 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend. They would finish the season 11-1, ranked second behind the Irish. Michigan would not lose another game, winning the Rose Bowl as they posted a record of 9-2-1 after an 0-2 start.