Top 10 Ty Detmer Moments: #2-Beating the Best—No. 1 Miami

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In 1990, the Brigham Young Cougars were scheduled to play the Miami Hurricanes on September 8. Miami had been voted number one to start the 1990 season, and rightfully so. A brief synopsis of Miami’s record and ranking from 1986 to 1992 shows Miami was the cream of the crop in college football.

1986: 11-1, Final Ranking #2, Only loss was to #1 Penn State, 14-10, in bowl game.
1987: 12-0, Final Ranking #1 (unanimous).
1988: 11-1, Final Ranking #2, Only loss was to #1 Notre Dame, 31-30.
1989: 11-1, Final Ranking #1, Only loss was to #3 Florida State.
1990: 10-2, Final Ranking #3.
1991: 12-0, Final Ranking #1 (AP only).
1992: 11-1, Final Ranking #3, Only loss was to #1 Alabama in bowl game.

A Miami win over BYU in 1990 almost guarantees another national championship for the Hurricanes. Even with the loss, the USA Today Top Performance Formula for 1990 has Miami at number one. Colorado (11-1-1) was voted number one by the Associated Press. There is little doubt that the AP voters would have elevated an 11-1 Miami, with their only loss to #6 Notre Dame, to the top spot.

Over seven years, Miami won 3 national championships and they were literally a few plays away from winning the national championship all seven years.

Other important notes regarding the 1990 Miami team, defensive tackle Russell Maryland won the Outland Trophy. Quarterback Craig Erickson finished fourth in the nation in total passing yards and won the Johnny Unitas Award as the nation’s top senior quarterback. Miami had 11 players drafted by the NFL the following spring (Maryland was the first pick overall), and six more the next year.

Following the loss to Notre Dame later in 1990, Miami started what would end up being a 29-game win streak.

It was no wonder that BYU was a 13½ point underdog and some pundits went as far as saying BYU had no chance to upset Miami.

Ty Detmer, however, took a different perspective on this game. All he wanted to do was play his best. And that is exactly what he did. All game long, Detmer shed would-be tacklers to escape the pass rush and make big play after big play. He dropped back to pass over 60 times, and was sacked only twice.

The Cougar defense deserves credit for holding Miami to 21 points despite the offense turning the ball over five times, which usually resulted in great field position for Miami. Without the turnovers, BYU would have slaughtered Miami.

Without Detmer, this game would have resembled the BYU vs. #4 TCU game from 2010. Detmer did something spectacular on every single BYU scoring drive. If anyone else was playing quarterback, it is possible these plays don’t get made.

TD Pass #1—Detmer had to break free from a Miami defender’s grasp to avoid a sack. The he scrambled out of the pocket and put perfect touch on his throw to Matt Bellini in the back corner of the end zone for a 14-yard score.

Field Goal #1—Detmer completed a pass to tight end Chris Smith running a corner route that set up a 1st and goal at the 9-yard line. To make this throw, Detmer had to stand in the pocket and wait till the very last second. A Miami defender was charging at Detmer. Knowing that he was going to get drilled, Detmer released a perfect strike. The defender drove Detmer into the ground and split open his chin. At halftime Detmer received six stitches.

TD Pass #2—With only 1:42 to play before halftime and BYU 74-yard away from the endzone, Detmer executed a marvelous 2-minute drill. He was 7 for 7 passing for 82 yards. It started with small pick ups—5, 6, and 8 yards. Facing 3rd down and 10, Detmer morphed from a category one hurricane into a category 5. Detmer converted the third down with a 19-yard completion, followed by another 19 yards on the next play. A 23-yard pass play came next, which took the ball to the 2-yard line. Only 14 seconds remained in the half. Detmer rolled right, and hit Andy Boyce in the back corner of the end zone.

Field Goal #2—Detmer made two big throws. First, he hit Andy Boyce for 15 yards streaking down the right sideline. The Miami defender was running stride for stride with Boyce, but Detmer lobbed the ball perfectly so that only Boyce could catch it. Boyce didn’t have to do anything except let the ball land in his hands. The second pass was a 20-yard pass downfield while rolling left that was right on the money.

TD Pass #3—Detmer sat in the pocket waiting for someone to get open. Miami had all receivers covered like a blanket. Two Miami defenders were coming at Detmer in opposite directions. He was about to be the meat in a Hurricane sack-wich. Not liking that idea, Detmer stepped back just in time to avoid the sack (the defenders collided head on). He shuffled right. Still waiting. As four defenders were converging on Detmer (all in front of him), somehow he spotted an open man and threw the ball over their outstretched arms. Touchdown!

The plays to get points are just the tip of the iceberg of what Detmer did to guide BYU to a 28-21 victory. Here is what the final score doesn’t show you:

• BYU started with 1st and 15 or worse on three of its first five drives. Detmer got BYU at least one first down on each of these drives, thus allowing the BYU defense the time it needed to rest.
• Detmer got BYU at least one first down on 10 of its first 11 drives. The only exception was a turnover that was not Detmer’s fault on the first play of drive six. The first time BYU went three plays and out was with 1:30 to play in the third quarter.
• BYU converted 5 of 9 third downs in the first half. All five conversions were Detmer passes. On 3rd and 2, Detmer got 28. When it was 3rd and 20, Detmer got 24. Facing 3rd and 10 during the two-minute drill, Detmer struck for 19.
• Detmer made plays running the ball. BYU had 1st and 15 in the first quarter; Detmer got all 15 on a run. BYU had a second 1st and 15 in the second quarter. Detmer ran for 9 yards to set up a manageable 2nd and 6. On 4th and 1 in the third quarter and trailing by one point, Detmer rolled left and side stepped a linebacker to get the first down.
• In the second quarter alone, Detmer was 18 of 24 (75%) for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns (essentially half of his production for the game).
• On the first two drives of the second half (both scoring drives), Detmer was 9-11 (82%), 83 yards, 1 TD. However, he should have been 10-10, 94 yards, 2 TD. After completing his first four passes of the first drive, Detmer made a perfect throw to an open receiver in the end zone. The receiver had it in his hands and then dropped it.
• Detmer’s final throw of the game was a 12-yard completion with 1:04 to play. It converted a 3rd down and 10, and put the final nail in the coffin.
• Detmer finished the game 38 of 54 (70.4%) for 406 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception (a pass that hit the intended receiver in the hands and the receiver popped the ball high in the air). Only Doug Flutie (1984) had thrown for more yards against Miami.

It was Detmer’s finest hour. Though small in stature, his play towered above everyone else. He made plays that no one else could make. He rose to every challenge, and overcame all obstacles. Playing the preeminent power in college football, Detmer never lost his composure. The vaunted Miami Hurricane defense had no answer for Ty Detmer.

In beating the best, Detmer proved he was the best. The best quarterback in the nation. The best player in the nation. The best BYU quarterbacks ever.

Ty’s Take
Obviously we were real excited for the chance to see where we were. We had a good team coming back. Felt pretty confident. I played against them in ’88 and, kind of, knew about the speed, and learned a lot that game. We were excited when the schedule came out and saw that we were going to get to play one of the top teams in the country.

10. The Essence of Ty Detmer
9. BYU Retires Ty Detmer's Jersey
8. Down, But Never Out
7. Unstoppable and Unprecedented
6. First Career Start
5. Final Home Game
4. Winning The Starting Quarterback Job
3. Joining the BYU Quarterback Club
2. Beating the Best--#1 Miami
1. Winning the Heisman Trophy

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