MIAMI -- Bobby Bowden had no second thoughts about being second best last night.
But for Bowden, there was no looking back at the 19-16 loss to Miami that cost the Seminoles a shot at the national championship.
"It's our fault we didn't beat Miami. It's our fault we didn't tie Miami," he said.
Asked if he felt the Seminoles were the No. 1 team in the country, Bowden said: "We must not be, but we must be pretty darn close. We're probably as good as anybody in the country. . . . I did not say we deserve to win the national championship. The people who deserve to win it are winning it tonight."
The Seminoles produced 436 yards of total offense despite torrential rain that ultimately forced them out of their no-huddle shotgun offense.
But quarterback Charlie Ward played well enough to be named most valuable player in the game. He completed 15 of 30 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns.
Tailback Sean Jackson ran for 101 yards and a big third-quarter touchdown to help make up for the reduced effectiveness of the shotgun.
The victory was Bowden's eighth straight in a bowl but his first Orange Bowl trophy in three tries.
That it came at the home of the Miami Hurricanes made it a little sweeter, ending Florida State's four-game losing streak at the Orange Bowl stadium.
While the Seminoles were exorcising their Orange Bowl demons,Nebraska found more misery in the bowl season.
The Cornhuskers (9-3) were dealt their sixth straight bowl loss. It was their fourth straight in the Orange Bowl.
"I told our players we're proud of them," Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. "They played very hard. We played well enough to win. . . . We missed a couple of field goals and had a couple of turnovers and gave Florida Stae one fairly easy touchdown. If those things don't happen, it's a ball game."
What disturbed Osborne was the loss of communication with his coaches in the press box.
"We didn't have the use of our headphones for the final three quarters of the game," he said. "It's kind of inexcusable in a bowl of this nature not to be able to get your sideline phones fixed.
"We didn't have anybody up in the press box in the second half of the game. I wish I could say that's the reason we lost the game, but that wasn't the reason."
The Cornhuskers lost the game in the second quarter when Byron Bennett was wide left on two field goals, and quarterback Tommie Frazier gave Florida State a gift touchdown with a wild pitchout.
Nebraska trailed 13-0 and had possession on its 20 when Frazier pitched wildly to Derek Brown.
Brown chased the ball back to the 2 but couldn't hold it. Instead, Florida State defensive end Dan Footman recovered at the 2.
Three players later, Ward flipped a 4-yard touchdown pass to Kez McCorvey, who was wide open on a blown coverage by cornerback John Reece.
That made it 20-0, and although Nebraska got a touchdown late in the half, the Cornhuskers were never able to catch up.
Nebraska got its touchdown when Corey Dixon teamed with Frazier for a 41-yard pass play. Dixon had beaten cornerback Corey Sawyer deep, but when Frazier underthrew the ball, Sawyer got his hands on it.
Dixon somehow jarred it loose, and after juggling it at least three times, pulled it in for the score.
It rained harder in the third quarter, when Florida State drove 85 yards for a touchdown and a 27-7 lead. Jackson capped the drive with an 11-yard run to put the game out of reach.
Nebraska got a fourth-quarter touchdown when Frazier passed 1 yard to Gerald Armstrong.
Florida State could also play the game of what might have been.
"I'm thankful for the way our team played," Bowden said. "They scared me a lot of times tonight when I thought we had the game in control and then let it get away."