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Miami wins 5th AP national title

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- There's no debate. Miami is No. 1.

The Hurricanes ended talk of a split national championship, completing a perfect season to win their fifth national title and first in 10 years unanimously.

Miami (12-0) received all 72 first-place votes in the final, post-bowl Associated Press poll of sports writers and broadcasters early Friday morning to earn 1,800 points.

The Hurricanes finished the season as the nation's only major unbeaten team with a 37-14 victory over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl on Thursday night.

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"It's an unbelievable honor," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "It's tremendously gratifying to be around such great players, to be able to coach kids at such a high level."

Coker joined Michigan's Bennie Oosterbaan (1948) as the only first-year head coaches to win a national title.

A Nebraska win in the Rose Bowl might have created the fourth split title since 1990. The Cornhuskers would have automatically been crowned the champion of the USA Today-ESPN coaches' poll, but Oregon would have had a shot at being the AP winner, which is selected independently.

"I just would have liked to have a shot," Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington said.

Oregon, which beat Colorado 38-16 in the Fiesta Bowl, finished No. 2 in the AP poll -- its highest ranking ever. Florida was third, followed by Tennessee and Texas. The coaches had the same Top Five as the AP.

Nebraska fell from No. 4 to No. 8, behind Oklahoma and LSU. Colorado and Washington State rounded out the Top 10.

Coker took over for Butch Davis after the Hurricanes finished No. 2 last season. The Hurricanes started the season ranked No. 2 and moved into the No. 1 spot for good on Oct. 6 when Florida lost to Auburn.

The title completes Miami's return to prominence. The Hurricanes finished with a 5-6 record as recently as 1997, but Davis rebuilt the team before leaving to coach the Cleveland Browns.

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Coker took over and moved Miami into fourth place for the most AP championships ever, trailing only Alabama (six), Oklahoma (seven) and Notre Dame (eight). The Hurricanes also won titles in 1983, '87, '89 and '91.

Maryland, which lost the Orange Bowl 56-23 to Florida, finished 11th, followed by Illinois, South Carolina, Syracuse and Florida State.

The Seminoles' streak of 14 straight Top Five seasons ended with their lowest finish since being unranked in the final poll in 1986.

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