Tide Washes Away Miami Mystique -- Sweet Sugar Victory For Alabama
Scripps Howard News Service: AP
NEW ORLEANS - When the talk died down and they played the game, all you could hear was the sound of the rolling Tide.
Alabama's Crimson Tide, absorbing taunts and hurling a few back in a week of posturing and hype, made big-time noise last night, winning an undisputed national championship with a 34-13 spanking of Miami in a stunningly lopsided Sugar Bowl.
The relentless Tide simply swamped Miami.
Alabama will officially be crowned college football's champion today when The Associated Press poll is released.
Miami was trying to become the first back-to-back champion since Alabama in 1978-79 under Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, and the first school to win five titles in 10 years.
But the Tide intercepted three passes by the Hurricanes' Heisman Trophy quarterback, Gino Torretta, returning one for a touchdown and setting up two others.
Alabama's defense spent much of the night in the vicinity of Torretta's famous face. It also stuffed Miami's running game, harassed its receivers, wounded its pride and snapped the Canes' 29-game winning streak.
"We had a great game plan," said Alabama linebacker Antonio London. "They talked a lot of noise all week long. They were talking a lot of trash (but) they couldn't get it done."
The Tide's top-rated defense broke the game open by intercepting Torretta on Miami's first two plays of the second half and scoring two touchdowns within a 16-second span.
After Tommy Johnson's interception led to a 1-yard TD run by Derrick Lassic, George Teague picked off another Torretta pass and returned it 31 yards to put the Tide ahead 27-6 - Miami's biggest deficit since a 35-7 loss to Tennessee in the 1986 Sugar Bowl.
"I've been dreaming about one of those for about four years now," Teague said of the interception return for a touchdown. "Gino just happned to throw it right to me."
Miami cut the deficit to 27-13 on a Sugar Bowl-record, 78-yard punt return for a touchdown by Kevin Williams with 12:08 left in the game.
But the Hurricanes scored no more points against a stifling Alabama defense, and the Tide - an eight-point underdog - padded its cushion with a 4-yard touchdown run by Lassic.
The victory extended Alabama's winning streak to 23 and made the Tide only the third Division I-A team to go 13-0 and win the national championship. The others were Nebraska in 1971 and Brigham Young in 1984.
It was a particularly rewarding win for Alabama Coach Gene Stallings, who played for Bryant at Texas A&M and worked for him as an assistant at Alabama. Stallings is one of "Bear's boys," a group of Bryant disciples who have carried on his tradition of hard-nosed defense and simple, straight-ahead offense - a formula that helped Bryant win five national titles in the 1960s and 1970s.
Lassic, the Sugar Bowl MVP, provided the offensive punch. He rushed 28 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns against a Miami defense that was giving up only 121 yards rushing and 11.5 points per game.
Torretta completed 24 of 56 passes for 278 yards but didn't throw a TD pass for only the third time this season.
In the closing minutes, Alabama fans shouted "We're No. 1!" and "Roll Tide!" and then stormed the field to celebrate.
Alabama quarterback Jay Barker passed for only 18 yards, but the Tide didn't need a passing attack because it outrushed Miami 267 yards to 48.
It was the fifth straight time a No. 2 team beat a No. 1 team in a bowl matchup.
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