Nebraska's Eric Crouch and Miami's Ken Dorsey used vastly different styles to get the same winning results. It is uncertain if Crouch will ever be a quarterback in the NFL, but that does not make him any less effective in college. The
option-style QB ran for 1,115 yards and 18 touchdowns and passed for 1,150 yards and seven scores. No quarterback in NCAA history has more rushing TDs than his 59. Crouch took home the Heisman Trophy, a fact that seemed to almost leave Dorsey, a finalist, relieved. Dorsey's statisitcs are not startling - he completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,652 yards and 23 scores. But Dorsey also did not not play in the fourth quarter of blowouts. Dorsey also is the first to admit that he is the beneficiary of an excellent supporting cast. His four-interception performance against Boston College nearly cost the Hurricanes an undefeated season. Crouch, by contrast, never had a bad game, even in the loss to Colorado.
Dahrran Diedrick will not be confused with Ahman Green and other great I-backs at Nebraska, but he quietly led the Big 12 in rushing with 1,299 rushing yards. He finished with seven 100-yard rushing games after being suspended from the season
opener. Backup Thunder Collins never has reached the potential expected of him when he transferred from junior college. Fullback Judd Davies had just 40 carries, averaging 5.9 yards. Clinton Portis was the model of consistency for Miami, posting eight 100-yard games to tie the single-season school record held by Ottis Anderson. A junior, Portis reached the 2,000-career mark in just his 25th career game, second only to Edgerrin James. Freshman backup Frank Gore made the most of his playing time, averaging 9.1 yards on his 62 carries. The Hurricanes will be without a dependable blocker, RB Najeh Davenport, due to a broken bone in his foot. Jarrett Payton, the son of NFL legend Walter Payton, received limited playing time.
Traditions die hard, so the passing game is still second fiddle at Nebraska. Remember, the biggest reception of the year was by Crouch, who caught a TD pass on a trick play that secured a win
over Oklahoma. Split end Wilson Thomas led the Cornhuskers in receptions with 37 for 616 yards and three touchdowns. The most dependable receiver is tight end Tracey Wistrom, who saw limited
action in four games due to a sore knee and is expected to be at full speed for the Rose Bowl. Collins is a decent receiver out of the backfield with 19 catches for 189 yards. Even after Santana Moss departed for the NFL, Dorsey had plenty of targets at Miami. Four receivers had at least 25 catches, with Andre Johnson leading the way with 37 catches for 682 yards and 10 scores. In crunch time, Dorsey loves to go to tight end Jeremy
Shockey. In his first season as a starter, Shockey caught 40 passes, seven for scores.
Nebraska produces offensive lineman as well as the state produces farm products, and the 2001 edition is no different. LG Toniu Fonoti is the anchor of the unit, recording a school-record 201 pancake blocks and helping the Cornhuskers lead the nation with 314.7 rushing yards per game. John
Garrison stepped in at center after All-American Dominic Raiola left early for the NFL and has been nothing short of outstanding. Make no mistake about it - the offensive line is a huge reason
Miami averages 43.18 points per game. LT Bryant McKinnie received some consideration for the Heisman trophy and his value was evident against Virginia Tech as the offense struggled in his
absence. McKinnie had arthroscopic knee surgery after the regular season and is expected to be ready for the Rose Bowl. But if he is slow to recover, that could make a huge difference.
RT Joaquin Gonzalez was almost as good on the other side of the line. Gonzalez scored 1320 on his SATs and gave up opportunities to go to Harvard and Yale.
End Chris Kelsay had 52 tackles for Nebraska and led the team with 17 tackles for losses. DT Jeremy Slechta had a solid season with 44 tackles. This unit was completely blown off the ball by Colorado in the November humiliation. If there is not improvement here, the Cornhuskers could be in for a long night in Pasadena. Miami ranked just 40th nationally against the run, but the unit made up for it with big plays. The defensive line for Miami is not only big, but athletic. Tackle Matt
Walters caught a deflected pass that led to a huge interception in the win over Boston College. DE Jerome McDougle rumbled for a touchdown in a rout over Washington.
Where was this unit for Nebraska against Colorado? At times Colorado rushers would break through the line and go for huge gains as the Cornhuskers were badly out of position. The best of
the bunch was Mike linebacker Jamie Burrow, who had a career-best 17 tackles against Oklahoma and 13 against Kansas State. Sam linebacker Scott Shanle broke up four passes against Missouri, a school record for a player at that position. Jonathan Vilma had a huge season for Miami and had the knack for making the big play. His interception started the onslaught in the lopsided win over Washington. Chris Campbell and D.J.
Williams are the other starters at linebacker.
Rover Dion Booker and safety Willie Amos had strong seasons before the Colorado debacle. The most stinging comments came from Colorado RB Chris Brown, who said Nebraska defensive backs were scared to tackle him. The strength of the secondary is at cornerback, where Keyuo Craver had 60 tackles and DeJuan Groce picked off three passes. Miami's secondary is arguably the best
in the country. Edward Reed has 21 career interceptions, passing Bennie Blades for the most in school history. Miami led the nation in non-offensive scoring with 11 touchdowns. Cornerback
Philip Buchanon had two interceptions in the win over Florida State. Afterwards, opponents became reluctant to throw to his side. The other cornerback, Mike Rumph, had no trouble getting
the extra attention.
Nebraska's Josh Brown is average, connecting on 10 of 14 field goals, and coach Frank Solich also has used freshman Sandro DeAngelis. Punter Kyle Larson had 21 kicks downed inside the 20. Miami's Todd Sievers was a dependable kicker who had 21
field goals, tying the single season record held by Carlos Huerta. Freddie Cupshaw kicks the ball high enough to allow for excellent coverage. The Hurricanes allowed just 6.5 yards on 12 returns this season.
DeJuan Groce of Bebraska is ninth nationally with 14.21 yards per punt return. The Cornhuskers returned punts for touchdowns in back-to-back weeks against Kansas State. Philip Buchanon is
just as dangerous for Miami as Groce is for the Cornhuskers.
It took two decades for Tom Osborne to win his first national title at Nebraska, while Frank Solich has a chance to do it in his fourth. Solich lost his share of big games in his first three years before breaking through with the huge win over Oklahoma in October. The trick TD pass to Crouch showed that Solich is not afraid to break from the mold. But some of the blame for the Colorado loss has to go to the coach. Larry
Coker, a career assistant, can become the first coach to win a national title in his first season since Bennie Oosterbaan of Michigan in 1948. Miami players are quite fond of the low-key Coker, who lets his players play. Miami defensive coordinator
Randy Shannon won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant.