Reliving Miami (OH)‘s Rich Florida Bowl Tradition

Miami (OH) will relive their 1970s glory days with a trip to Orlando’s Cure Bowl on Saturday

Miami (OH) appeared in three straight Tangerine Bowls from 1973-1975
Source: AP/Bill Hudson

Several college football fans know about Toledo's 35-game winning streak from 1969-1971, powered by legendary quarterback Chuck Ealey. The Rockets won the MAC three years in a row and went to Orlando's Tangerine Bowl each year.

However, many college football fans and even MAC fans forget a similar run of dominance that occurred a few years later and a little south of the Glass City. From 1973-1975, Miami (OH) was king of the MAC and made multiple good memories in sunny Florida. Nearly 50 years since their last Tangerine Bowl appearance, the Redhawks return to Orlando to fittingly cap a MAC championship season.

From 1973 to 1975, Miami (OH) was one of the best teams in America, regardless of conference. The Redhawks went 32-1-1, spent seven weeks in the AP Top 25 in all three seasons, and notched two wins over Purdue and one over South Carolina. The only blemishes were a one-point loss to Michigan State in 1973 and a tie against Purdue in 1974. The Redhawks finished #12 in the AP Final poll in 1975, 10th in 1974, and 15th in 1973.

Despite Miami (OH)'s regular season heights, the program saved its best for last during its phenomenal three-season run. Miami (OH) needed only six passing yards to beat 7-4 Florida 16-7 in the 1973 Tangerine Bowl. The Redhawks allowed only 197 yards and forced seven turnovers against the Gators.

The following year, Miami (OH) added another SEC school to its list of Tangerine Bowl victims, decisively beating 6-5 Georgia 21-10. Once again, the steady ground game of the Redhawks carried them to victory. Miami (OH) only needed three completions for 14 yards to race to a 21-3 halftime lead. Rob Carpenter's gritty 30-carry, 114-yard performance buoyed Miami's offense.

"All good things must come to an end," they say, and Miami's final Tangerine Bowl appearance came in 1975. This time, a future SEC school, in South Carolina, was the victim. Miami's passing game shockingly took centerstage. Groundbreaking dual-threat quarterback Sherman Smith completed 10 of his 13 passes for 137 yards in a 20-7 win over 7-4 South Carolina. For the second straight year, Rob Carpenter willed the Redhawks' ground game with a 29-carry, 120-yard performance.

Surprisingly, Miami (OH) fell from its pinnacle almost abruptly, not making another bowl until 1986. The three Tangerine Bowl appearances of the 1970s were not the only Sunshine State bowl appearances for the Redhawks. A 1962 Tangerine Bowl appearance set the stage for the Redhawks' elite run. A 49-21 loss to Houston spoiled an 8-1-1 campaign for the Redhawks that saw them beat then-#9 Purdue earlier in the season.

41 years after their last Tangerine Bowl appearance, the Redhawks returned to the Sunshine State and nearly upset another SEC power. A blocked field goal as time expired spoiled Miami (OH)'s upset bid against Mississippi State.

Miami's Cure Bowl appearance brings nostalgia for one of college football's most underrated runs ever. Just like old times, Miami will cap a MAC Championship with an appearance in Orlando. Judging from the past, Miami could leave the Sunshine State with plenty to celebrate on Saturday.