The Miami Hurricanes' confidence allows them to do the unthinkable sometimes.
The Hurricanes' offense was stymied and nearly shut out on countless opportunities. Quarterback Gino Torretta was downright awful at times.
For reference, see UM at FSU last November; he drove the Hurricanes 58 yards for the go-ahead score with 3:01 remaining. The conditions were similar in the Orange Bowl.
But once again, Torretta and the Hurricanes salvaged brilliance from offensive oblivion. UM trailed 16-10 with 9:05 left and its leader had completed just 5 of his last 23 passes.
That mattered little when it counted most. UM faced third down and 12 at its 40 when Torretta's slow feet supplied the play his arm hadn't provided. A hole opened in the middle of FSU's defense and Torretta gained 14 yards before doing a hook slide.
That ended a streak of 10 straight unsuccessful third-down conversions.
"We were having a lot of miscommunication mistakes," explained receiver Horace Copeland. "We (the receivers) weren't making the same reads as Gino."
But this was different.
"We knew we needed to do something soon," said tight end Coleman Bell. "This offense is too good and has too many weapons to be held down forever. When we need someone to make the play, they do."
UM faced another key conversion two plays later on third and 5 at the FSU 41. Bell gained 8 yards and a first down after hauling in a Torretta pass.
"It was a lot like last year," said Bell, who made a 21-yard catch to keep the '91 drive alive. "We had faith that Gino would come through with the big play."
The big play started with an audible after Torretta saw a small cornerback playing man-on-man defense against Lamar Thomas. Clifton Abraham, at 5-foot-9, was assigned to defend against the 6-3 high-jumping Thomas.
Torretta switched from a running play to a pass.
Thomas took Abraham deep; Torretta laid his pass into Thomas' hands at the 10 just beyond Abraham's. Thomas won the race to the end zone.
"We really needed one big play," said Bell. "Last year, Horace had the big catch near the goal line. This year it was Lamar's turn."
"We were struggling all day, not scoring when we had chances," said Torretta. "We couldn't wait much longer. Then suddenly everything clicked. We were on the same page all of a sudden. And boom, we hit the big play."
Just like '91.
"It was kind of weird," said fullback Larry Jones. "They'd just gone up 16-10 like last year and they had the momentum, but that doesn't matter to this team. We made our own momentum."
A look at Miami's winning drive.
1-10 from Miami 42
Bell drops Torretta pass
2-10 from Miami 42
Bennett loses 2 yards
3-12 from Miami 40
Torretta keeps for 14 yards
1-10 from FSU 46
Torretta passes to Bennett for 3 yards
2-7 from FSU 43
McGuire runs for 2 yards
3-5 from FSU 41
Torretta passes to Bell for 8 yards
1-10 from FSU 33
Torretta pass to Thomas for touchdown