MIAMI -- No. 2 Miami staked its claim for the national title Wednesday night when redshirt freshman Larry Jones ran for 144 yards and a touchdown and the Hurricanes defense blanked No. 11 Nebraska for a 22- 0 Orange Bowl victory.
The victory, Miami's 45th straight on its home field, allowed the Hurricanes to finish its second perfect season in school history at 12- 0.
No. 1 Washington also finished 12-0 with a 34-14 romp over No. 4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl. That leaves the national title up to the panel of 104 National Football Foundation members in Thursday's UPI final ratings.
Playing on a wet field and through intermittent showers, the Hurricanes held the nation's No. 1 rushing offense to 80 yards. Nebraska, which entered the contest averaging 353 yards on the ground, finished with 169 total yards.
The shutout was the first suffered by Nebraska since a 27-0loss to Oklahoma in 1973. The last shutout in the Orange Bowl took place in 1963, when Alabama blanked Oklahoma 16-0.
Jones, who carried 30 times, was making his first collegiate start after the Hurricanes lost starter Stephen McGuire to injury and Martin Patton to suspension. His rushing total set a school bowl record.
Carlos Huerta kicked three field goals for Miami, and Gino Torretta completed 19 of 41 passes for for 257 yards and a TD. In addition, defensive end Rusty Medearis recorded four sacks.
The result might have been more lopsided, but the Hurricanes had three drives stopped by penalties. Miami finished with 12 penalties for 143 yards.
The Hurricanes scored on their first three possessions for a 13-0 lead.
After holding Nebraska on the opening possession of the game, Miami needed just five plays to take a 7-0 lead when Kevin Williams caught a 9-yard TD pass from Torretta. Williams picked up 45 of Miami's 51 yards on the drive, catching a 36-yard pass on the second play.
The Hurricanes struck again with 5:03 left in the quarter on a 24- yard field goal by Huerta. Torretta set up that score with a 39-yard pass to Lamar Thomas to the Nebraska 12.
On Nebraska's first play after the score, Derek Brown fumbled an option pitch from McCant and Miami's Ryan McNeil recovered at the Cornhuskers 15. Five plays later, Huerta hit his second 24-yarder for a 13-0 lead only 10:58 into the game.
The Hurricanes nearly scored another touchdown before the period expired when Williams ran 70 yards into the end zone on a reverse, but a holding penalty brought the play back and Miami eventually punted.
Miami gained 160 yards in the first quarter, compared to no first downs and one yard for the Cornhuskers.
The Cornhuskers finally picked up a first down with 6:11 left in the half. Nebraska drove as far as the Miami 21 late in the half, but Byron Bennett's 43-yard field-goal attempt was wide left.
Miami also missed a scoring opportunity in the second quarter after driving to the Nebraska 23. The Hurricanes incurred three penalties in the span of four plays and were forced to punt.
The Hurricanes took the second-half kickoff and drove 66 yards to a 2-yard TD run by Jones. Torretta moved Miami into scoring position with consecutive completions of 17 yards to Williams, 11 yards to Thomas and 13 more yards to Williams.
Miami drove as far as the Nebraska 34 on its next series, but a holding penalty backed the Hurricanes up and they were forced to punt.
Huerta kicked a 54-yard field goal, the longest of his career, with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter for a 22-0 lead. The score came after a short Nebraska punt that gave the Hurricanes possession at the Cornhuskers 37.
Nebraska had another chance to avert the shutout midway through the fourth quarter, but a fumble killed the opportunity. Backup quarterback Mickey Joseph drove the Cornhuskers to the Miami 20, but he fumbled the center snap and Eric Miller recovered for the Hurricanes.