|1980 NCAA Division I-A season|
|Number of teams||138|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Ohio State|
|Heisman Trophy||George Rogers (running back, South Carolina)|
|Division I-A football seasons|
The 1980 NCAA Division I-A football season saw a university from the state of Georgia take its first national title since 1942.
Nine days following the bowl games to close the 1979 season, tragedy struck when new LSU coach Bo Rein died when the plane he was flying in crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia. Rein, who coached North Carolina State to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 1979, was named on November 30 of that year as the successor to Charles McClendon, who coached LSU to a 137–59–7 mark from 1962 through 1979. Jerry Stovall, a former LSU All-American and St. Louis Cardinals defensive back, was named to succeed Rein approximately 36 hours after the crash.
The Georgia Bulldogs starred freshman running back Herschel Walker, who made his NCAA debut against Tennessee. Down 15–2 at halftime, Georgia sent in Walker, the third string running back at the time, to try to light a spark. Walker ran over All-American safety Bill Bates, in a play that would set the tempo for the rest of his career.
This year was the final season in which long time rivals Rutgers and Princeton played against each other. The rivalry between the New Jersey schools has not been played since.
This year's edition of Florida–Georgia game was won on a last minute 92 yard pass from Georgia's own endzone, known by the play by play call "Run, Lindsay, run!".
The Bulldogs ran through the rest of the season unscathed, beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Walker rushed for 150 yards against Notre Dame, a defense which had not given up a hundred-yard game that whole season. He did this with a dislocated shoulder.
The Pittsburgh Panthers also had a stellar season, led by defensive end Hugh Green. The team went 11–1 and finished ranked No. 2, finishing the season with a rout of South Carolina and Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers in the Gator Bowl. 29 players from this team went on to play in the NFL.
Florida State defeated No. 3 ranked Nebraska on the Cornhuskers' home turf, and the following week defeated the No. 2 ranked Pitt Panthers
It was an unusual year for the Pac-10 as 5 of its 10 members were placed on probation by the conference (but not the NCAA) including traditional powers USC and UCLA, along with both Oregon schools and Arizona State. So half the conference was ineligible for bowl games and it was feared that the 4th or 5th-place finisher would end up in the Rose Bowl. Ironically, USC and UCLA both got as high as No. 2 in the polls before being upset. As it turned out, the probation didn't matter as Washington won the conference outright with a 6–1 record.
This year's edition of the Holiday Bowl was a classic as the BYU staged a fourth quarter comeback, led by future NFL star Jim McMahon. Down 45–25 to SMU with less than four minutes left, McMahon threw three touchdown passes, including a Hail Mary as time expired, caught in the endzone by Clay Brown, despite being surrounded by three SMU defenders.
|School||1979 Conference||1980 Conference|
|Air Force Falcons||Independent||WAC|
The pre season poll had a top six of 1. Ohio State, 2. Alabama, 3. Pittsburgh, 4. USC, 5. Oklahoma, and 6. Nebraska. Also of note is that Georgia was ranked 16th. For the first month of the season, the top 6 teams did not change, although there was some movement within the top 6. Going into games on September 27, the poll was 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Nebraska, 4. Oklahoma, 5. USC, and 6. Pittsburgh. On that day, Oklahoma lost at home to John Elway and Stanford, 31–14. Texas replaced Oklahoma in the top 5, and the new rankings were 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Nebraska, 4. USC, and 5. Texas.
On October 4, No. 2 Ohio State was shut out at home by No. 11 UCLA, 17–0. Nebraska was also upset at home, losing to No. 16 Florida State 18–14. The new poll was 1. Alabama, 2. USC, 3. Texas, 4. Pittsburgh, and 5. UCLA.
On October 11, No. 4 Pittsburgh suffered their only loss of the season, losing to No. 11 Florida State in Tallahassee by a score of 36–22. It was one of only two games all season in which the stout Panthers allowed more than 14 points. Undefeated Notre Dame, with three wins over top 20 teams, joined the top 5 after their 32–14 win over No. 13 Miami. The new poll was 1. Alabama, 2. USC, 3. Texas, 4. UCLA, and 5. Notre Dame.
On October 18, No. 2 USC got bogged down in the rain at Oregon and had to settle for a 7–7 tie. Thus the Trojans fell out of the top 5, to be replaced by undefeated Georgia. The new poll was 1. Alabama, 2. Texas, 3. UCLA, 4. Notre Dame, and 5. Georgia.
On October 25, for the 5th straight week, a top 5 team lost. This time, it was No. 2 Texas falling to SMU by a score of 20–6. Texas would end up losing 5 of its last 7 games after a 5–0 start. Florida State would take the Longhorns place in the new top 5 that was 1. Alabama, 2. UCLA, 3. Notre Dame, 4. Georgia, and 5. Florida State.
After 5 straight weeks of major upsets, November 1 may have been the craziest day of all. Alabama, who had held the top ranking for 6 weeks, was knocked off by Mississippi State, 6–3. Having heard the news that Alabama lost, No. 2 UCLA went out and promptly lost to Arizona in Tucson, 23–17. USC and Nebraska re-entered the top 5. The new poll was 1. Notre Dame, 2. Georgia, 3. Florida State, 4. USC, and 5. Nebraska.
The madness continued on November 8 as new No. 1 Notre Dame was held to a 3–3 tie by Georgia Tech, dropping the Irish to No. 6. 2nd ranked Georgia trailed rival No. 20 Florida late in the game when QB Buck Belue hit WR Lindsay Scott on an out pattern; Scott turned up field and went 90 yards for the winning score in the season's most memorable play. It was Scott's only touchdown reception all season and it gave the Bulldogs a 26–21 win. Alabama would take Notre Dame's place in the top five of the new poll that was 1. Georgia, 2. USC, 3. Florida State, 4. Nebraska, and 5. Alabama.
The surprises continued the following week on November 15. No. 2 USC lost at home to Washington as the Huskies clinched the Pac-10 title. No. 6 Notre Dame went down to Birmingham and beat No. 5 Alabama 7–0; this win vaulted the Irish over Alabama, Nebraska, and Florida State to No. 2 in the new poll. Ohio State, who started at No. 1 and had just the one loss to UCLA, returned to the top 5 that was 1. Georgia, 2. Notre Dame, 3. Florida State, 4. Nebraska, and 5. Ohio State.
On November 22, in the showdown for the Big 8 title and Orange Bowl berth, No. 4 Nebraska was dumped at home by No. 9 Oklahoma, 21–17. In the game to decide the Big 10 title and Rose Bowl berth, No. 10 Michigan beat No. 5 Ohio State in Columbus, 9–3. No. 6 Pittsburgh returned to the top 5 by winning at No. 7 Penn State, 14–9. The new poll was 1. Georgia, 2. Notre Dame, 3. Florida State, 4. Pittsburgh, and 5. Oklahoma.
Although there were still games left to be played, the major bowls extended their invitations. Top ranked Georgia earned a Sugar Bowl berth by virtue of its SEC championship and Notre Dame was invited to play them in a 1 vs. 2 matchup. No. 5 Oklahoma earned the Big 8's Orange Bowl berth and would play No. 3 Florida State. 6th ranked Michigan would face No. 16 Washington in the Rose Bowl, while No. 7 Baylor earned the Cotton Bowl berth by winning the SWC. Most people assumed No. 4 Pittsburgh would earn a major bowl bid and face Baylor, but the Cotton Bowl opted for No. 9 Alabama instead. The Fiesta Bowl also passed over Pitt, inviting No. 11 Ohio State and No. 10 Penn State (who had just lost to Pittsburgh). Thus, Pittsburgh had to settle for a Gator Bowl bid vs. No. 18 South Carolina and Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers.
On December 6, No. 17 USC spoiled the 1 vs. 2 Sugar Bowl matchup by upsetting No. 2 Notre Dame by a score of 20–3. The final regular season top five was 1. Georgia, 2. Florida State, 3. Pittsburgh, 4. Oklahoma, and 5. Michigan.
|WEEKS||No. 1||No. 2||Event|
|1-3||Alabama||Ohio State||UCLA 17, Ohio State 0 (Oct. 4)|
|4-5||Alabama||USC||Oregon 7, USC 7 (Oct 18)|
|6||Alabama||Texas||SMU 20, Texas 6 (Oct 25)|
|7||Alabama||UCLA||Miss. St 6, Alabama 3 (Nov. 1) & Arizona 23, UCLA 17 (Nov. 1)|
|8||Notre Dame||Georgia||Ga. Tech 3, Notre Dame 3 (Nov. 8)|
|9||Georgia||USC||Washington 20, USC 10 (Nov 15)|
|10-11||Georgia||Florida State||USC 20, Notre Dame 3 (Dec 6)|
|12||Georgia||Pittsburgh||End Regular Season|
|5.||Florida State||Florida State|
|8.||Penn State||Penn State|
|9.||Notre Dame||North Carolina|
|10.||North Carolina||Notre Dame|
|15.||Ohio State||Ohio State|
|18.||Miami (FL)||Miami (FL)|
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 1982 NCAA Division I-A football season was the last for Paul "Bear" Bryant as head coach at Alabama, retiring with 323 victories in 38 seasons.
The 1987 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Miami winning its second national championship during the '80s in an Orange Bowl match-up featuring a rare No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup between the top ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the Hurricanes.
The 1984 NCAA Division I-A football season was topsy-turvy from start to finish. It ended with the BYU Cougars being bestowed their first and only national championship by beating Michigan in the Holiday Bowl. While the Cougars finished with a perfect 13–0 record and were the consensus National Champions, some commentators maintain this title was undeserved citing their weak schedule and argue that the championship should have gone to the 11–1 Washington Huskies. Despite this the Cougars were voted No. 1 in the final AP and UPI polls. The Huskies declined an invitation to play BYU in the Holiday Bowl; they decided instead to play Oklahoma in the more prestigious 1985 Orange Bowl. All subsequent national champions have come from what are now known as the Power Five conferences + Notre Dame.
The 1983 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with the University of Miami, led by Bernie Kosar, winning their first national championship over perennial power and top ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.