Today marks the 18th anniversary of a good day in Miami Hurricanes history. Coming after an 8-7 win against the Arizona Wildcats that demoted the Canes to #2 in the country, the reigning champs faced the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl on October 3, 1992. Hurricane Andrew had razed swaths of Miami to the ground in late August, and the city was hungry for a win against its state rival.
The Seminoles came into the Orange Bowl ranked #3 in the country. Led by quarterback and future Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, FSU had won its previous four games. But the Seminoles’ streak was fated to end in agonizing and familiar fashion.
After FSU returner Tamarick Vanover took the opening kickoff back 94 yards for a touchdown, the Hurricanes took the lead in the second quarter with a field goal and a 29-yard Gino Torretta pass to Coleman Bell. FSU field goal kicker Dan Mowrey put a 22-yarder through the uprights before half time and the teams headed into the locker room tied up.
Two more Mowrey field goals — a 38-yarder in the third and a 41-yarder in the fourth — put the Noles up 16-10 with about nine minutes left in the game. The Hurricanes might have panicked if they hadn’t prevailed over identical circumstances the previous season.
Flashback. On November 16, 1991, FSU led the Hurricanes 16-10 in the fourth quarter at Doak Campbell Stadium before Miami scored a touchdown with three minutes left in the game. With 29 seconds on the clock, FSU coach Bobby Bowden sent Gerry Thomas out to attempt a 34-yard field goal on third down. Thomas had nailed his previous three kicks but choked on the fourth, missing it wide to the right. The Canes won the game 17-16 and went on to win the National Championship. The game later earned the nickname “Wide Right.”
Flash forward. The Canes are trailing the Noles 16-10 in the fourth quarter. Torretta leads his team on a seven-play, 58-yard drive that ends with a 33-yard touchdown reception by Lamar Thomas. The score is now 17-16. After four possession changes and a Miami safety, FSU gets the ball back with 1:35 left in the game, down 19-16. Ward leads his team on a 59-yard drive that includes a 12-yard pass to Kez McCorvey on fourth down to stay alive. With seconds left and his team on the 22-yard line (well within field goal range), Coach Bowden calls on Mowrey to win the game for the Noles. Like Gerry Thomas in 1991, Mowrey has nailed his three previous kicks, two of them significantly longer boots. With a chance at the National Championship hanging in the balance, Mowrey waits for the snap.
Wide Right II comes in at 35 seconds. Please pardon the music — this is surprisingly the best video I could find.
After the botched kick, Mowrey tries to bury himself in the turf. In the wake of “Wide Right II,” The Hurricanes go on to win their next seven games and lose in the 1993 Sugar Bowl to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Torretta takes the Heisman Trophy as a consolation prize.
For their part, the Seminoles swallow hard and win their remaining games and the 1993 Orange Bowl against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. As proof that Camus had it right, FSU ends the season ranked #2, one spot ahead of the Canes.
If you have any photos or video from Wide Right II that you want to share, please send them our way. Also, feel free to suggest specific days in Miami history you think we should cover. We’re open to just about anything.