|1972 NCAA University Division football season|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Nebraska|
|Regular season||September 9 – December 2, 1972|
|Number of bowls||11|
|Bowl games||December 18, 1972 – January 1, 1973|
|Champion(s)||Southern California (AP, Coaches, FWAA, NFF)|
|Heisman||Johnny Rodgers (wingback, Nebraska)|
The 1972 NCAA University Division football season saw the USC Trojans, coached by John McKay, go undefeated and win the national championship as the unanimous choice of the 50 AP panelists. Eighth-ranked in the preseason, the Trojans were narrowly voted No. 1 in the first AP poll, and stayed out front for the rest of the year.
Prior to the 1972 season, two programs were elevated to the University Division. The new programs were Long Beach State and Tampa. The change brought the total number of programs in the University Division to 121.
During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, which became Division I in 1973 (and Division I-A in 1978). The NCAA Football Guide, however, did note an "unofficial national champion" based on the top ranked teams in the "wire service" (AP and UPI) polls. The "writers' poll" by Associated Press (AP) was the most popular, followed by the "coaches' poll" by United Press International) (UPI). Through the 1973 season, the UPI issued its final poll in early December before the bowls, but since 1968 (and 1965) the AP Trophy was withheld until the postseason was completed. The AP poll in 1972 consisted of the votes of fifty sportswriters, though not all of them voted in every poll. Those who cast votes would give their opinion of the ten best teams. Under a point system of twenty points for first place, nineteen for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined.
This season was historically significant because it was the first in which freshmen were eligible to play varsity football in the University Division. NCAA had historically prohibited freshmen from varsity competition, except during the United States involvement in World War II and the Korean War. In 1968, the NCAA allowed freshman eligibility in the University Division in all sports, except football and basketball, and extended the rule to those sports effective with the 1972–73 academic year.The
This was the last season for the "University" and "College" divisions. For the 1973 season, the NCAA created the three-division structure that exists today with teams and conferences designated accordingly:
Five years later in 1978, Division I was subdivided (for football only) into I-A and I-AA . In 2006, these were renamed Division I FBS and FCS, respectively. Many of the teams and conferences now in FCS (Big Sky, Ohio Valley, SWAC, Yankee) were initially in Division II and moved up to I-AA.
|School||1971 Conference||1972 Conference|
|Appalachian State Mountaineers||Independent||Southern|
|McNeese State Cowboys||Independent||Southland|
|New Mexico State Aggies||Independent||Missouri Valley|
|Trinity (TX) Tigers||Southland||Independent|
In 1972, only the Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-8) and Cotton Bowl (SWC winner) had rigid conference tie-ins. Thus, Big 8 champion Oklahoma passed up an Orange Bowl invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl, while SEC champion Alabama passed the Sugar to meet Texas in the Cotton. For the first time, the Sugar Bowl was played at night on New Year's Eve, rather than New Year's Day afternoon. With two consecutive victories in the Orange Bowl, No. 9 Nebraska was invited to a third against No. 12 Notre Dame.
Sunday, December 31, 1972
Monday, January 1, 1973
|Bowl game||Winning team||Losing team|
|Sugar||No. 2 Oklahoma||14||No. 5 Penn State||0|
|Cotton||No. 7 Texas||17||No. 4 Alabama||13|
|Rose||No. 1 USC||42||No. 3 Ohio State||17|
|Orange||No. 9 Nebraska||40||No. 12 Notre Dame||6|
The final AP poll in January was: 1. USC (12–0), 2. Oklahoma (11–1), 3. Texas (10–1), 4. Nebraska (9–2–1), 5. Auburn (10–1)
|Sun||El Paso||Texas||December 30||No. 16 North Carolina||32–28||Texas Tech|
|Gator||Jacksonville||Florida||December 30||No. 6 Auburn||24–3||No. 13 Colorado|
|Tangerine||Orlando||Florida||December 29||Tampa||21–18||Kent State|
|Astro-Bluebonnet||Houston||Texas||December 30||No. 11 Tennessee||24–17||No. 10 LSU|
|Liberty||Memphis||Tennessee||December 18||Georgia Tech||31–30||Iowa State|
|Peach||Atlanta||Georgia||December 29||NC State||49–13||No. 18 West Virginia|
|Fiesta||Tempe||Arizona||December 23||No. 15 Arizona State||49–35||Missouri|
The Big Eight Conference dominated the Heisman race in 1972,
as the top three were from Nebraska & Oklahoma:
The NCAA was without a playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, later known as Division I-A, during the 20th century. The NCAA recognizes Division I-A national champions based on the final results of polls including the "wire service", FWAA and NFF. The 1964 AP poll continued to rank only ten teams, compiling the votes of 55 sportswriters, each of whom would give their opinion of the ten best. Under a point system of 10 points for first place, 9 for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined.
The 1981 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with the Clemson Tigers, unbeaten and untied, claiming the national championship after a victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. This was also the first year of the California Bowl, played in Fresno, California; this game fancied itself as a "junior" version of the Rose Bowl as it pitted the Big West Conference champion vs. the Mid-American Conference champion.
The 1978 NCAA Division I-A football season was the first season of Division I-A college football; Division I-A was created in 1978 when Division I was subdivided into Division I-A and Division I-AA for football only. With the exception of seven teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Division I teams from the 1977 season played in Division I-A during the 1978 season. The SWAC teams, along with five conferences and five other teams formerly in Division II, played in Division I-AA.
The 1962 NCAA University Division football season was played by American football teams representing 140 colleges and universities recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as major programs. The remaining 370 colleges and universities that were NCAA members and fielded football teams competed in the 1962 NCAA College Division football season.
The 1966 University Division football season was marked by some controversy as the year of "The Tie", a famous 10–10 game between the two top-ranked teams, Michigan State and Notre Dame on November 19. Both teams were crowned national champions by various organizations after the regular season concluded, and neither participated in bowl game. Alabama finished the regular season undefeated and was third in the AP poll, while Georgia was fourth. Alabama went on to win the Sugar Bowl in dominant fashion. During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, later known as Division I-A.
The 1967 NCAA University Division football season was the last one in which college football's champion was crowned before the bowl games. During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, later known as Division I-A and now as the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
In the 1968 NCAA University Division football season, the system of "polls and bowls" changed. The Associated Press returned to its pre-1961 system of ranking the Top 20 rather than the Top 10, and voted on the national champion after the bowl games, rather than before. During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, later known as Division I-A.
The 1969 NCAA University Division football season was celebrated as the centennial of college football.
The 1970 NCAA University Division football season was marked by tragedy, due to two airplane crashes. On October 2, one of the planes carrying the Wichita State football team crashed on the way to a game against Utah State, killing 31 people on board, including 14 players. Then, on November 14, the charter for the Marshall Thundering Herd crashed on the way home from a game against East Carolina, killing all 75 persons.
The 1971 NCAA University Division football season saw Coach Bob Devaney's Nebraska Cornhuskers repeat as national champions. Ranked a close second behind Notre Dame in the preseason poll, Nebraska moved up to first place the following week, remained there for the rest of 1971, and convincingly won the Orange Bowl 38–6 in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game against Alabama.
The 1973 NCAA Division I football season was the first for the NCAA's current three-division structure. Effective with the 1973–74 academic year, schools formerly in the NCAA "University Division" were classified as Division I. Schools in the former "College Division" were classified into Division II, which allowed fewer athletic scholarships than Division I, and Division III, in which athletic scholarships were prohibited.
The 1974 NCAA Division I football season finished with two national champions. The Associated Press (AP) writers' poll ranked the University of Oklahoma, which was on probation and barred by the NCAA from postseason play, No. 1 at season's end. The United Press International (UPI) coaches' poll did not rank teams on probation, by unanimous agreement of the 25 member coaches' board. The UPI trophy went to the University of Southern California (USC).
The 1975 NCAA Division I football season saw University of Oklahoma repeat as national champion in the Associated Press (AP) writers' poll, and were ranked No. 1 in the United Press International (UPI) coaches' poll, just ahead of runner up Arizona State, runner-up in both final polls, despite having an undefeated 12–0 season and a win over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.
The 1976 NCAA Division I football season ended with a championship for the Panthers of the University of Pittsburgh. Led by head coach Johnny Majors, the Pitt Panthers brought a college football championship to the home of the defending pro football champions, the Steelers. Pitt also had the Heisman Trophy winner, Tony Dorsett; the Panthers had been ranked ninth in the preseason AP poll.
The 1977 NCAA Division I football season was one in which the top five teams finished with 11–1 records. Notre Dame, which beat top-ranked and undefeated Texas in the Cotton Bowl, became the national champion.
The 1956 NCAA University Division football season saw the University of Oklahoma Sooners finish a third consecutive season unbeaten and untied to again win the national championship.
The 1954 college football season saw three teams finish unbeaten and untied, with Ohio State Buckeyes and the UCLA Bruins sharing the national championship as the No. 1 picks of the AP Poll and the UPI Poll, respectively. Although the winners of the Big Ten and the Pacific conferences normally met in the Rose Bowl, a "no repeat" prevented the two champions from meeting. UCLA, which had been in the Rose Bowl earlier in the year, was replaced by conference runner-up USC.
The 1952 college football season ended with the unbeaten Michigan State Spartans (9–0) and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (12–0) each claiming a national championship from different polls. Michigan State finished first according to two of the "wire service" polls, which both placed Georgia Tech second. Georgia Tech was first in the International News Service poll. UP and INS merged in 1958 to form UPI. Although the Spartans became members of the Big Ten Conference in 1950, full participation did not come until 1953, and under the terms of their entry into the conference, they were not allowed to participate in postseason play. Georgia Tech won the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day in New Orleans.
The 1947 college football season finished with Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State all unbeaten and untied, but the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame were the first place choice for 107 of the 142 voters in the AP Poll, and repeated as national champions. Michigan went on to meet USC in the Rose Bowl and won 49–0, while Penn State was tied 13–13 by SMU in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and Notre Dame didn't participate in the postseason. An unofficial post bowl AP poll was conducted with Michigan and Notre Dame as the only options and Michigan won by a vote of 226 to 119.
The 1946 college football season finished with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish crowned as the national champion in the AP Poll, the Georgia Bulldogs recognized as national champion by the Williamson poll and United States Military Academy named as national champion in various other polls and rankings. The Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens were recognized by the AP as the small college national champion. Notre Dame and Army both won all of their games, with the exception of their November 9 meeting at New York's Yankee Stadium, where they had played to a 0–0 tie in a No. 1 vs No. 2 matchup regarded as a "Game of the Century". Neither team played in bowl game that season.