1977 NCAA Division I football season

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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. [2] [3]

Contents

The 1977 season was the last before NCAA's Division I was divided into I-A and I-AA. On the eve of a national playoff for the smaller programs that would be I-AA, the Sugar Bowl in 1977 became the fourth bowl game to sign a contract guaranteeing an appearance by a major conference champion. The result was that meetings between the media poll choices for the top two teams were less likely, unless those teams were in the Big Ten and Pac-8 (which met in the Rose Bowl), or one of the teams was not obligated to play in a particular bowl game.

Besides the Big Ten-Pac-8 matchup in the Rose Bowl, the Southwest champion played in the Cotton, the Big Eight titlist in the Orange, and the SEC champ in the Sugar. Top teams that had their choice of which bowl to play were either independent or in a conference outside the five major powers (such as the ACC or WAC).

During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for major college football teams, which became Division I-A in 1978. The NCAA Football Guide, however, did note an "unofficial national champion" based on the top ranked teams in the final "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). The AP poll consisted of the votes of as many as 64 writers, though not all voted in each poll, and the UPI poll was taken of a 42-member board of coaches.

Conference and program changes

School1976 Conference1977 Conference
Chattanooga Mocs D-I Independent SoCon
East Carolina Pirates SoCon D-I Independent
Indiana State Sycamores D-I Independent Missouri Valley
Marshall Thundering Herd D-I Independent SoCon
Southern Illinois Salukis D-I Independent Missouri Valley
Western Carolina Catamounts D-I Independent SoCon
William & Mary Indians SoCon D-I Independent

September

In the preseason poll released on September 5, the AP ranked Oklahoma first, followed by Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, and Ohio State. Sixth was Alabama, and defending champion Pittsburgh (minus Tony Dorsett and Johnny Majors) was ranked seventh.

September 10 No. 1 Oklahoma opened its season at home against Vanderbilt, 2–9 the year before. Though the Sooners avoided an upset, their narrow 25–23 win didn't impress the pollsters, and OU dropped to fifth. No. 2 Michigan won 37–9 at Illinois, and No. 3 Notre Dame won 19–9 at Pittsburgh. No. 4 USC won 27–10 at Missouri, and No. 5 Ohio State beat visiting Miami (FL) 10–0. No. 6 Alabama beat Mississippi 34–13 at Birmingham. Although the top six teams all won their openers, The next poll shuffled the rankings (2-4-3-6-1-5): 1.Michigan 2.USC 3.Notre Dame 4.Alabama 5.Oklahoma 6. Ohio State.

September 17 No. 1 Michigan beat Duke 21–9 and No. 2 USC won at Oregon State, 17–10. A week after losing to Alabama, Mississippi stunned the nation with a 20–13 defeat of No. 3 Notre Dame on a humid 100 °F (38 °C) day in Jackson. The Irish dropped to eleventh, and as low as fourteenth the week after. No. 11 Maryland fell 24–16 to unranked West Virginia at home in College Park. No. 4 Alabama lost 31–24 at No. 14 Nebraska. No. 5 Oklahoma crushed visiting Utah, 62–24. No. 6 Ohio State and No. 10 Penn State which beat Minnesota 38–7 and Houston 31–14, respectively, reached the top five: 1.Michigan 2.USC 3.Oklahoma 4.Ohio State 5.Penn State

September 24 No. 1 Michigan beat Navy, 14–7. No. 2 USC beat visiting TCU 51–0. No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Ohio State met in Columbus in the season's first big matchup. In a close game, the visiting Sooners won 29–28 after a touchdown, an onside kick recovery, and a last second field goal by Uwe von Schamann, and reclaimed first place in the next poll. No. 5 Penn State beat Maryland, 27–9. No. 6 Texas A&M, which won 33–17 at No. 7 Texas Tech, reached the top five: 1.Oklahoma 2.USC 3.Michigan 4.Penn State 5.Texas A&M

October

October 1 No. 1 Oklahoma beat Kansas 24–9 and No. 2 USC was idle, but the Trojans were voted No. 1 anyway in a split vote (23 vs. 19 for OU and 16 for UM). No. 3 Michigan beat No. 5 Texas A&M 41–3. No. 4 Penn State lost 24–20 to visiting Kentucky, and No. 6 Ohio State won 35–7 at SMU. No. 8 Texas defeated visiting Rice 72–15. With USC having a plurality of votes (23 vs. 19 for OU and 16 for UM), the poll was: 1.USC 2.Oklahoma 3.Michigan 4.Ohio State 5.Texas

October 8 In Los Angeles, No. 1 USC was beaten 21–20 by No. 7 Alabama; on a two-point conversion try by USC in the final minute, the Tide intercepted to seal the upset. Earlier in Dallas, No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 5 Texas met in their annual game, and Texas won 13–6. In Big Ten play, No. 3 Michigan won 24–14 at Michigan State and No. 4 Ohio State beat Purdue 46–0. No. 6 Colorado beat visiting Oklahoma State 29–13 to move to third, and the Wolverines returned to the top: 1.Michigan 2.Texas 3.Colorado 4.Alabama 5.Ohio State

October 15 No. 1 Michigan beat No. 14 Wisconsin 56–0, and No. 2 Texas won at No. 7 Arkansas, 13–9. No. 3 Colorado played at Kansas, a 17–17 tie. No. 4 Alabama beat Tennessee in Birmingham, 24–10. No. 5 Ohio State beat Iowa 27–6. No. 6 USC beat Oregon 33–15 to return to the top five: 1.Michigan 2.Texas 3.Alabama 4.Ohio State 5.USC

October 22 No. 1 Michigan (6–0) was shut out 16–0 at unranked Minnesota, and No. 2 Texas won 30–14 at SMU. No. 3 Alabama beat Louisville 55–6, and No. 4 Ohio State won 35–15 at Northwestern. No. 11 Notre Dame wore their green jerseys for the first time in decades and overwhelmed No. 5 USC 49–19. No. 7 Oklahoma beat No. 16 Iowa State 35–16 and returned to the top five, and the Longhorns became the fourth team to lead the poll: 1.Texas 2.Alabama 3.Ohio State 4.Oklahoma 5.Notre Dame

October 29 No. 1 Texas beat visiting No. 14 Texas Tech 26–0, and No. 2 Alabama beat Mississippi State 37–7 in Jackson. No. 3 Ohio State beat Wisconsin 42–0, No. 4 Oklahoma won 42–7 at Kansas State, and No. 5 Notre Dame beat Navy 43–10. Other than the Sooners' trade with the Buckeyes, the poll was stable: 1.Texas 2.Alabama 3.Oklahoma 4.Ohio State 5.Notre Dame

November

November 5 No. 1 Texas won 35–21 at Houston, and No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 18 LSU 24–3 in Baton Rouge. No. 3 Oklahoma won 61–28 at Oklahoma State, No. 4 Ohio State won 35–0 at Illinois, and No. 5 Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech 69–14. For the first time since the season began, the top five remained unchanged (in fact, the top nine were the same): 1.Texas 2.Alabama 3.Oklahoma 4.Ohio State 5.Notre Dame

November 12 No. 1 Texas beat TCU 44–14 and No. 2 Alabama beat the visiting Miami Hurricanes, 36–0. No. 3 Oklahoma routed Colorado 52–14, No. 4 Ohio State beat Indiana 35–7, and No. 5 Notre Dame won at No. 15 Clemson, 21–17. No. 6 Michigan won 40–7 at Purdue and returned to the top five: 1.Texas 2.Alabama 3.Oklahoma 4.Ohio State 5.Michigan

November 19 No. 1 Texas beat Baylor 29–7, while No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Oklahoma were idle. Once again, the Big Ten title came down to a meeting between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan, 7–0 and 6–1 in conference play, respectively. Michigan won 14–6 at home and gained the trip to the Rose Bowl. No. 6 Notre Dame beat Air Force 49–0. The poll: 1.Texas 2.Alabama 3.Oklahoma 4.Michigan 5.Notre Dame

November 25–26 On Thanksgiving weekend, USC defeated UCLA 29–27 on a last-second field goal on Friday night to knock the Bruins out of the Rose Bowl and put Washington in. Earlier in the day, No. 3 Oklahoma beat No. 11 Nebraska 38–7 to go to 10–1. On Saturday, No. 1 Texas won 57–28 at No. 12 Texas A&M for an 11–0 record, the SWC title, and a trip to the Cotton Bowl. No. 2 Alabama closed its season in Birmingham, beating Auburn 48–21. The Crimson Tide was unbeaten (7–0) in SEC conference play, as was Kentucky (6–0, 10–1 overall), which was ineligible for bowls because of NCAA probation. No. 4 Michigan (10–1) had completed its regular season, and No. 5 Notre Dame was idle until December 3, a 48–10 win at Miami. The final regular season poll had been released on November 28: 1.Texas 2.Oklahoma 3.Alabama 4.Michigan 5.Notre Dame

Rule changes

Conference standings

1977 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 17 North Carolina $501  831
No. 19 Clemson 411  831
NC State 420  840
Maryland 420  840
Duke 240  560
Virginia 150  191
Wake Forest 060  1100
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1977 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 7 Oklahoma $700  1020
Iowa State 520  840
No. 12 Nebraska 520  930
Colorado 331  731
Missouri 340  470
Kansas 241  461
Oklahoma State 250  470
Kansas State 070  290
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1977 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 9 Michigan +710  1020
No. 11 Ohio State +710  930
Michigan State 611  731
Indiana 431  551
Minnesota 440  750
Purdue 350  560
Iowa 350  560
Wisconsin 360  560
Illinois 260  380
Northwestern 180  1100
  • + Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1977 Ivy League football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Yale $610  720
Brown 520  720
Harvard 430  450
Penn 430  540
Dartmouth 430  630
Princeton 340  360
Cornell 160  180
Columbia 160  270
  • $ Conference champion
1977 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Miami $500  1010
Central Michigan 710  1010
Ball State 510  920
Bowling Green 430  570
Eastern Michigan 430  830
Kent State 540  650
Western Michigan 350  470
Northern Illinois 250  380
Toledo 270  290
Ohio 080  1100
  • $ Conference champion
1977 Missouri Valley Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
West Texas State $510  641
Wichita State 410  560
New Mexico State 320  470
Tulsa 230  380
Indiana State 230  370
Drake 150  290
Southern Illinois 050  380
  • $ Conference champion
  • Tulsa, Indiana State, and Southern Illinois played designated conference games.
1977 Pacific Coast Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Fresno State $400  920
Pacific (CA) 310  650
San Jose State 220  470
Long Beach State 130  460
Cal State Fullerton 040  470
  • $ Conference champion
1977 Pacific-8 Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 10 Washington $ 61    84 
No. 15 Stanford  52    93 
No. 13 USC  52    84 
California  34    74 
Washington State  34    65 
Oregon  16    29 
Oregon State  07    29 
UCLA 07    011 
  • $ Conference champion
  • † – UCLA forfeited 7 wins (5 conference wins) due to ineligible players.
Rankings from AP Poll
1977 Southern Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
Chattanooga +410  911
VMI +410  740
The Citadel 320  560
Furman 321  452
Western Carolina 221  641
Appalachian State 140  290
Marshall 050  290
  • + Conference co-champions
1977 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 2 Alabama $700  1110
No. 6 Kentucky 600  1010
Auburn 510  650
LSU 420  840
Florida 330  641
Georgia 240  560
Mississippi State 240  560
Ole Miss 250  560
Tennessee 150  470
Vanderbilt 060  290
  • $ Conference champion
  • Kentucky ineligible for SEC championship due to NCAA probation. Mississippi State later forfeited all 1977 wins due to NCAA violations.
Rankings from AP Poll
1977 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 4 Texas $800  1110
No. 3 Arkansas 710  1110
Texas A&M 620  840
Houston 440  650
Texas Tech 440  750
Baylor 350  560
SMU 350  470
TCU 170  290
Rice 080  1100
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1977 Southland Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Louisiana Tech $401  912
Southwestern Louisiana 212  642
Texas–Arlington 320  560
Arkansas State 230  740
McNeese State 131  551
Lamar 140  290
  • $ Conference champion
1977 Southwestern Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Grambling State $600  1010
Jackson State 510  830
Texas Southern 321  641
Mississippi Valley State 240  550
Alcorn State 240  380
Southern 141  371
Prairie View A&M 150  380
  • $ Conference champion
1977 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 20 BYU +610  920
No. 18 Arizona State +610  930
Colorado State 520  921
Wyoming 430  461
Arizona 340  570
New Mexico 250  570
Utah 250  380
UTEP 070  1100
  • + Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1977 NCAA Division I independents football records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 1 Notre Dame      1110
No. 5 Penn State      1110
Colgate      1010
North Texas State *     1010
No. 16 San Diego State      1010
Tennessee State      811
No. 14 Florida State      1020
No. 8 Pittsburgh      921
East Carolina      830
Rutgers      830
Army      740
Louisville      741
Boston College      650
Cincinnati      542
Georgia Tech      650
Memphis State      650
Northwestern State      650
Syracuse      650
William & Mary      650
Southern Miss      650
Temple      551
Hawaii      560
Navy      560
West Virginia      560
South Carolina      570
Utah State      470
Villanova      470
Illinois State      371
Virginia Tech      371
Miami (FL)      380
Richmond      380
Tulane      380
Air Force      281
Holy Cross      280
Northeast Louisiana      290
  • North Texas State (originally 9–2) awarded a forfeit win after Mississippi State was found to be using an ineligible player. [4]
Rankings from AP Poll

No. 1 and No. 2 progress

WEEKSNo. 1No. 2Event
PREOklahomaMichiganMichigan 37, Illinois 9 (Sept 10)
1-2MichiganUSCOklahoma 29, Ohio State 28 (Sept 24)
3OklahomaUSC
4USCOklahomaAlabama 21, USC 20 (Oct 8)
5-6MichiganTexasMinnesota 16, Michigan 0 (Oct 22)
7-11TexasAlabamaOklahoma 38, Nebraska 7 (Nov 25)
12-BowlsTexasOklahomaNotre Dame 38, Texas 10 (Jan 2)
FinalNotre DameAlabamaNotre Dame 38, Texas 10 (Jan 2)

Polls

Bowl games

Major bowls

Monday, January 2, 1978

BOWL
Cotton No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 38No. 1 Texas Longhorns 10
Sugar No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide 35No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes 6
Rose No. 13 Washington Huskies 27No. 4 Michigan Wolverines 20
Orange No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks 31No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners 6

Two former NFL head coaching failures became college football successes, upsetting the No. 1 and No. 2 teams. Dan Devine had been unspectacular at Green Bay before succeeding Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame in 1975, while Lou Holtz had coached the New York Jets to a 3–11 finish in 1976 before taking over at Arkansas.

The Sugar Bowl was a matchup of coaching legends Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes; Bryant's No. 3 Alabama squad easily handled No. 8 Ohio State, 35–6.

The largest crowd in Cotton Bowl history (76,701) turned out in Dallas to watch the unbeaten No. 1 Texas Longhorns to attempt to finalize a national championship. Notre Dame's defense forced five turnovers, which set up five scores. Running back Vagas Ferguson scored three touchdowns, including one on a pass from Joe Montana in a 38–10 win. For Texas, both Earl Campbell and Johnny Lam Jones were injured. Devine changed his mind about resigning his Irish coaching job. [5]

Following Texas' loss in the Cotton Bowl, No. 4 Michigan hoped an impressive win over the Washington might vault them to a possible national championship. However, the Huskies, led by Rose Bowl MVP Warren Moon, raced to a 24–0 lead in the third quarter and held on for a 27–20 upset.

With No. 1 Texas and No. 4 Michigan out of the way, No. 2 Oklahoma was in a position to claim the championship with a win over No. 6 Arkansas in the nightcap in Miami. The Razorbacks had finished behind Texas in SWC play and had settled for the Orange Bowl. The week of the game, Holtz suspended the Hogs' top rusher, Ben Cowins, and the top receiver, Donny Bobo for violating team rules. The Sooners were 18-point favorites but Cowins' backup Roland Sales rushed for two touchdowns and over 200 yards as the Razorbacks shut down the Sooners' ground game en route to a 24–0 lead after three quarters and a massive 31–6 upset. [6]

The national championship was disputed as there were six teams with one loss: Alabama, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Texas, Penn State, and Kentucky (prohibited from playing in a bowl due to NCAA probation). Notre Dame had lost to Mississippi, who lost to Alabama, who lost to Nebraska, who lost to Oklahoma, who lost to Arkansas, who lost to Texas who lost to Notre Dame. Penn State lost to Kentucky and Kentucky lost to Baylor who had lost to Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska. Amidst this confusion, there were several good choices for a champion; giant killers Notre Dame and Arkansas, and third-ranked Alabama, and Texas. Notre Dame, on the strength of its lopsided win over No. 1 Texas, vaulted over Texas, Oklahoma (who lost in the Orange Bowl), Alabama (who won in the Sugar Bowl), and Michigan (who lost in the Rose Bowl). Alabama fans cried foul as they assumed, as the No. 3 team before the bowls, that if No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Oklahoma lost (which they did), they would rise to No. 1 with a win over Ohio State.

In the final polls, the electors for AP and UPI were expectedly divided, but a majority in each picked Notre Dame. [2] [3] With one AP writer naming all three schools as number one, the writers poll was 37⅓ for Notre Dame, 19⅓ for Alabama and 5⅓ for Arkansas. [7] UPI had 23 for Notre Dame, 13 for Alabama and 2 for Arkansas. [8] Devine, who had followed in the footsteps of both Vince Lombardi and Parseghian, reversed his earlier plans and continued as head coach in 1978. [5]

Other bowls

BowlCityStateDateWinnerScoreRunner-up
Fiesta TempeArizonaDecember 25No. 8 Penn State 42–30No. 15 Arizona State
Sun El PasoTexasDecember 31 Stanford 24–14 LSU
Gator JacksonvilleFloridaDecember 30No. 10 Pittsburgh 34–3No. 11 Clemson
Tangerine OrlandoFloridaDecember 23No. 19 Florida State 40–17 Texas Tech
Astro-Bluebonnet HoustonTexasDecember 31No. 20 USC 47–28No. 17 Texas A&M
Liberty MemphisTennesseeDecember 19No. 12 Nebraska 21–17No. 14 North Carolina
Peach AtlantaGeorgiaDecember 31 NC State 24–14 Iowa State
Independence ShreveportLouisianaDecember 17 Louisiana Tech 24–14 Louisville
Hall of Fame BirminghamAlabamaDecember 22 Maryland 17–7 Minnesota

Heisman Trophy

  1. Earl Campbell , RB – Texas, 1,547 points
  2. Terry Miller, RB – Oklahoma State, 812
  3. Ken MacAfee, TE – Notre Dame, 343
  4. Doug Williams, QB – Grambling State, 266
  5. Ross Browner, DE – Notre Dame, 213
  6. Guy Benjamin, QB – Stanford, 111
  7. Matt Cavanaugh, QB – Pittsburgh, 86
  8. Rick Leach, QB – Michigan, 59
  9. Charles Alexander, RB – LSU, 54
  10. Wes Chandler, WR – Florida, 50

Source: [9] [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

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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.

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 NCAA did recognize a national champion based upon the final results of "wire service" polls. The "writers' poll" by Associated Press (AP) was the most popular, followed by the "coaches' poll" by United Press International) (UPI). Prior to 1965, both services issued their final polls at the close of the regular season, but before teams competed in bowl games. For the 1965 season, the AP took its final poll after the postseason games, an arrangement made permanent in 1968. The Associated Press presented the "AP Trophy" to the winner.

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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).

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The 1957 NCAA University Division football season saw two different national champions. Auburn was ranked first in the AP writers' poll taken at season's end, while Ohio State was first in the UPI coaches' poll. Auburn was ineligible for a bowl game, however, having been placed on probation indefinitely by the Southeastern Conference, after having paid two high school players $500 apiece.

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.

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References

  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2008-12-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. 1 2 "AP, UPI agree – it's Notre Dame". St. Petersburg Times. Florida. AP, UPI. January 4, 1978. p. 1C.
  3. 1 2 "It might not add up, but Irish are clearly No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. AP, UPI. January 4, 1978. p. 3C.
  4. https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/1977-standings.html
  5. 1 2 "Notre Dame corrals Longhorns by 38-10", Daily Herald (Chicago), Jan. 3, 1978, p4-1
  6. "Holtz' hot Hogs make Sales pitch", Syracuse Herald Journal, Jan 3, 1978, p39
  7. [appollarchive.com]
  8. Galveston County News, Jan 4, 1978, p27
  9. "Earl Campbell". Heisman Trophy. 1977. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  10. "Heisman to Texas back". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. December 9, 1977. p. 34.