In his TV opening statement, announcer Keith Jackson called this game "another one of those moments in sports that could grow into legend." He was spot on, especially in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide came into the game 12-0 fresh off a victory over Florida in the SEC Championship game. Miami, 11-0, was the defending National Champion.
Miami players were famous for trash-talking and took it to new heights prior to this game. It didn't faze the Tide as they came away with a 34-13 win.
Alabama's defense was highlighted by George Teague's amazing play now known as "The Strip".
Coach Gene Stallings and the Tide captured another national championship for the University of Alabama.
All week long, Stallings said he did not consider his Crimson Tide an underdog.
Alabama’s defensive strategy stifled Miami’s rushing game, only allowing the Hurricanes 48 yards on the ground. Torretta passed for 278 yards but was ineffective. With Alabama leading 13-6 at the half, the defense took control of the game early in the third quarter.
On UM’s first play from scrimmage in the second half, Torretta was intercepted by Tommy Johnson, who returned the ball to the Miami 20-yard line. Six plays later, Derrick Lassic scored from a yard out to increase UA’s lead to 20-6.
Alabama’s defense had been giving Torretta problems all day but the one play that virtually spelled the end for Miami came on their next possession. The Tide pulled all 11 players up to line with Torretta operating from the shotgun. His errant pass was snared by Teague who high-stepped 31 yards for the second Tide touchdown in 16 seconds.
Teague was matched against Miami tailback Jonathan Harris, who was lined up in a slot to the right. Teague jammed Harris as he tried to come off the line of scrimmage. Torretta, who was pressured all night by the Alabama defense, chose to force a throw towards Harris. But Teague stepped in front of Harris, caught the pass at the 31, took off toward the right sideline and high-stepped the last five yards into the end zone for a 21-point lead. This play by Teague would be a big one in the Tide’s victory, however, it would not be the only one he would be remembered for in this game.
Trailing 27-6, the Hurricanes offense took the field to mount a successful drive. On Miami’s second down and 10 play, Teague made one the biggest defensive plays of the season, although it was null and void because of a five-yard offside penalty called against Alabama. Torretta hit his favorite receiver, Lamar Thomas, who was streaking down the sideline for an apparent six points. Teague streaked down the sideline, ran Thomas down, stripped the ball from him, and proceeded to advance the ball in the other direction for a short gain. The play may not be officially recorded in the record books, but it will stand as one of the best defensive plays ever.
The Crimson Tide relied on a ground attack to move the ball on offense. Out of the 285 total yards gained, 267 of them came on the ground. Derrick Lassic controlled UA’s ground game cutting and weaving his way to 135 yards rushing on 28 carries and two touchdowns. His efforts gained him the Miller-Digby Sugar Bowl Most Valuable Player Award.
Alabama was outgained, 326 yards to 285. Tide quarterback Jay Barker, who led his team to victory for the 17th time in 17 starts, completed just 4 of 13 passes for 18 yards, with two interceptions. Meanwhile, Torretta’s decisive mistakes were the result of an overwhelming Alabama defensive effort that all but eliminated Miami’s ability to run. Miami was held to 48 rushing yards, 42 of which came during an inconsequential final drive long after a Crimson celebration had begun.