The 2003 Fiesta Bowl’s climactic moment deserves a deep rewind | Ohio State vs Miami


– [Narrator] It’s January 3rd, 2003. We’re at Sun Devil
Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The number one Miami
Hurricanes are looking to keep their hopes alive against
number two Ohio State. This snap will decide if we’re going on to a third overtime, or if the Buckeyes get to hoist the national championship trophy for the first time since 1968. So much has happened since
this game first kicked off, and each moment overshadowed
the one right before it. So to remember how we got
to this point, let’s rewind. Miami’s offense has one
play to gain one yard, and if you had been paying
attention for the last three seasons, you’d like their chances. They’ve won 34 straight
games dating back to September of 2000. This includes 12 wins
against top-20 opponents. And while the computers
deemed them unworthy of the title game in 2001, they cruised by Nebraska in the 2002
BCS National Championship. And once again, they left
nothing to chance this season. Their biggest scare came
against Florida State, but the winning field
goal sailed wide left, a cruel twist of irony
considering FSU has a history of kicks going
wide right against Miami. They’ve had a roster
littered with playmakers on both sides of the
ball, and used their speed to score quick, and score often. Junior wideout Andre Johnson has already eclipsed the 1000 yard
mark receiving, which kept defenses honest and
allowed Willis McGahee to steamroll opponents all season long. Under second year head coach
Larry Coker, the Hurricanes never slowed down, which
was even more remarkable considering they had to
replace the production of 11 players selected
in the 2002 NFL draft. One big constant in their win streak was senior QB Ken Dorsey,
who entered tonight with the chance to tie Chuck
Ealey’s NCAA record for consecutive wins by a quarterback. And in the first quarter,
it looked good for Miami. Dorsey found Roscoe
Parrish across the middle, and the receiver fought through the tackle and into the end zone to open the scoring. But they’ve only managed 17 points since, and even though Miami’s at
their doorstep, Ohio State’s defense has a chance to end it right here, which would be more
than fitting considering how they’ve played all season. While the offense was
capable of putting up points, it was their defense that
kept Ohio State unbeaten. With the exception of a
Kliff Kingsbury garbage time touchdown in early August,
no one had scored 20 against them all season. Running on them was near
impossible, and finding the end zone on the ground was even more so, thanks to a front led by
Will Smith and Tim Anderson. And statistically, their
pass defense was nowhere near as stingy, but they came
up big all the same. With the otherworldly
Mike Doss and Will Allen locked in at safety, the
Buckeyes had to tinker a bit more with the
rest of their secondary. That offseason, they shifted
Cie Grant back to linebacker after a one year experiment at corner. He finished among the
team leaders in sacks and tackles for loss, earning
second team all Big Ten defensive honors along the way. But to help fill the hole
Grant left at corner, Mark Dantonio had to
borrow the team’s second leading receiver. Chris Gamble became the
Buckeyes’ first two-way starter since 1963, playing
both sides of the ball for the last five games. In his first game at
corner, he got a pick six to spark Ohio State’s
rally against Penn State, and would be asked to
play well over 100 snaps per game the rest of the way. Gamble continued to be a productive weapon for the offense as well,
taking some of the load off Michael Jenkins and giving
Craig Krenzel enough weapons to come through
when they were needed. Against Purdue, Krenzel
and Jenkins connected on fourth and one to prevent
the late-season upset. (crowd cheering)
– [Announcer] Holy Buckeye! That was one of many tight
finishes for the Buckeyes. But they entered the
championship game with 13 wins, already two more than any Ohio State team. And it all came in Jim
Tressel’s second season as head coach. And after they gave up
that early score to Miami, the Buckeyes’ D only allowed
10 more points in regulation. They got after Dorsey
all night, sacking him four times after he’d hardly hit the dirt in the regular season. They forced four
turnovers, including three from Dorsey on consecutive
drives, which their offense turned into 14 points. They’ve kept Miami nearly
18 points below their season average, and while
they’ve let the Hurricanes get a yard away from tying it back up, moments earlier, it looked
like triple overtime was a certainty. With first and goal from
the six, Dorsey fired to his left towards Andre Johnson. The ball sailed overhead,
but Gamble was flagged for wrapping Johnson up. That moved the ball to the
two with a fresh set of downs. But Miami only managed
to gain a single yard on their next three plays. Without a DB around his
waist, Johnson likely would have been able to climb up for the catch to extend the game. Whether the penalty was a tactical choice or just from a gassed
Gamble playing his 117th snap of the night, the
penalty turned out pretty well for Ohio State. But from one yard out,
the Hurricanes still have enough weapons to keep
anyone from feeling safe. Johnson, Parrish, Kellen Winslow Jr. But there is one guy missing. So that’s Jarrett Payton
in the back-field. And normally a team would
be pretty happy to have Walter Payton’s son in this position. The problem is, he only
had 43 touches on the year because he was backing
up a guy who rarely came to the sideline without
scoring a touchdown first. Miami replaced Clinton
Portis with Willis McGahee, and McGahee had been
unstoppable that season. He went over 2000 yards from scrimmage, and was incredibly
efficient with his touches. Tonight, though, was a
different story, as he had been mostly bottled up by Ohio State. In the second half, he had
begun to find more room, even bouncing one outside for a score. But early in the fourth,
as Miami was working their way back, his night, and possibly career, came to and end. In real time, it looked
like just another hard hit, but as the jumbotron showed
the replay again and again, those in the stadium knew it was worse. McGahee tore all three
ligaments in his knee, and after spending some
time on the sideline, he was carted off the field. So Miami was now asking
their backup to step in and climb out of the hole created by their Buckeye counterpart. Miami had done just as
good of a job as Ohio State when it came to stopping the run. The Buckeyes’ leading
rusher of the night was actually soon to be doctor
but quarterback for now Craig Krenzel. The Hurricanes had managed
to neutralize Ohio State’s biggest threat, true
freshman Maurice Clarett. Clarett actually wanted to play for Miami, but his fear of flying
kept him from visiting during his recruitment,
which worked out pretty well for Tressel and company. He’d been the offensive
focus for most of the season, taking the Big Ten by
storm despite missing three games due to injury. He came into tonight banged up physically, and mentally he’d had to
fight through just a bit in the past month. He recently found himself in the news for complaints aimed at
OSU officials, for not supporting him when he wished to travel to a funeral for a close friend
who had been murdered. Leading up to the national championship, his mind was clearly on
more than just the game. But despite not putting
up the eye-popping numbers he had in the regular
season, he didn’t let any distractions show. Early in the second half,
Ohio State was set to extend their lead when Krenzel’s pass was picked off by Sean Taylor. During an impressive
return, Clarett managed to chase down Taylor and
strip the ball from him as they went to the ground. Gassed on the sideline,
he watched as Mike Nugent extended the lead a few plays later. And fast forward to the
second overtime, Clarett put Ohio State back on top
after he burst through the line from five yards
out, marking his second score of the night that could
potentially put it away for good. And now, regardless of what comes next, Miami and their fans
have good reason to be sick of fourth downs in overtime already. The good news was they
had converted once already this drive, thanks to a
Dorsey-Winslow connection that had been productive all evening. But the bad, it wasn’t the
fourth and 14 conversion they gave up to Michael
Jenkins in the first overtime. Or I guess it was kind of
that, but that play pales in comparison to a fourth
and three just moments later. Krenzel threw towards
Gamble, who let the ball hit him in the hands
and fall to the ground. Miami celebrated, Krenzel lay in the dirt, and after what felt like
an eternity, a penalty flag emerged. Glenn Sharpe was called
for pass interference while covering Gamble, and possibly
the only person in more disbelief than Sharpe was Dan Fouts. – [Dan Fouts] Bad call, bad call! – On the third play following the penalty, Krenzel shouldered his
way into the end zone and kept Ohio State’s hopes alive. And now, Miami is looking to do the same. One snap to keep their 34
game win streak intact, and have another chance
to join the short list of back-to-back champs. Or one snap for Ohio
State’s defense to slam the door shut and take the crown. The teams have had to
fight both physically and emotionally all
night, and have already turned in an unforgettable performance. It’s the final opportunity
for so many players on both sides to cement
their collegiate legacies before turning pro. For others, it’s an
early chance at greatness with a long future unwritten. One play, one yard. Welcome to a moment in history. – [Announcer] And Kellen
Winslow and Dorsey, under pressure, throws it, incomplete! The Buckeyes win! (crowd cheering) – [Will] Hey, thanks for watching. We have many more Rewinders
worth checking out, so maybe watch one of those,
subscribe to SBNation, and keep being pretty.

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