1982 NCAA Division I-A football season

Last updated
1982 NCAA Division I-A season
Memorial for legendary coach Bear Bryant, who retired after the 1982 season, and died 28 days later.
Number of teams105
Preseason AP No. 1 Pittsburgh [1]
DurationDecember 17, 1982 –
January 1, 1983
Bowl games 16
Heisman Trophy Herschel Walker (running back, Georgia)
Champion(s) Penn State
Division I-A football seasons

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. [2]


The Penn State Nittany Lions won their first consensus national championship, closing out an 11–1 season by defeating Georgia and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker 27–23 in the Sugar Bowl to edge out undefeated SMU for the national championship. It was Joe Paterno's first national championship, after three undefeated non-championship seasons. [3] [4] [5]

UCLA moved from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the Rose Bowl and fulfilled a promise made by coach Terry Donahue by closing out their season there as well, beating Michigan 24–14 in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

It is also the year of "The Play", an improbable finish to the annual rivalry game between Cal and Stanford.

The Aloha Bowl premiered in Honolulu, Hawaii, and was won by Washington.

Rule changes

Conference changes and new programs

School1981 Conference1982 Conference
Colgate Raiders I-A Independent I-AA Independent
Holy Cross Crusaders I-A Independent I-AA Independent
Northeast Louisiana Indians I-A Independent Southland (I-AA)
North Texas State Mean Green I-A Independent 1-AA Independent
Richmond Spiders I-A Independent I-AA Independent
UNLV Rebels I-A Independent PCAA (Big West)
William & Mary Tribe I-A Independent I-AA Independent

Conference standings

1982 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 8 Clemson $600  911
No. 20 Maryland 510  840
No. 18 North Carolina 330  840
Duke 330  650
NC State 330  650
Virginia 150  290
Wake Forest 060  380
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1982 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 3 Nebraska $700  1210
No. 16 Oklahoma 610  840
Oklahoma State 322  452
Kansas State 331  651
Missouri 232  542
Iowa State 151  461
Kansas 151  272
Colorado 151  281
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1982 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Michigan $810  840
No. 12 Ohio State 710  930
Iowa 620  840
Illinois 630  750
Wisconsin 540  750
Indiana 450  560
Purdue 360  380
Northwestern 270  380
Michigan State 270  290
Minnesota 180  380
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1982 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Bowling Green $720  750
Western Michigan 522  722
Miami 530  740
Central Michigan 531  641
Ohio 540  650
Toledo 540  650
Northern Illinois 540  550
Ball State 440  560
Eastern Michigan 171  191
Kent State 090  0110
  • $ Conference champion
1982 Missouri Valley Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Tulsa $600  1010
Wichita State 410  830
Southern Illinois (1-AA)410  650
Indiana State (1-AA)320  560


240  470
New Mexico State 140  380
West Texas State (1-AA)140  380
Illinois State (1-AA)050  290
  • $ Conference champion
1982 Pacific Coast Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Fresno State $600  1110
Long Beach State 510  650
San Jose State 420  830
Utah State 230  560
Pacific (CA) 240  290
UNLV 140  380
Cal State Fullerton 060  390
  • $ Conference champion
1982 Pacific-10 Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 5 UCLA $511  1011
No. 7 Washington 620  1020
No. 6 Arizona State 520  1020
No. 15 USC 520  830
Arizona 431  641
California 440  740
Stanford 350  560
Washington State 241  371
Oregon 260  281
Oregon State 071  191
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1982 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 4 Georgia $600  1110
No. 11 LSU 411  831
No. 14 Auburn 420  930
Vanderbilt 420  840
Tennessee 321  651
Alabama 330  840
Florida 330  840
Mississippi State 240  560
Ole Miss 060  470
Kentucky 060  0101
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1982 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 2 SMU $701  1101
No. 17 Texas 710  930
No. 9 Arkansas 521  921
Houston 431  551
Baylor 341  461
Texas Tech 350  470
Texas A&M 350  560
TCU 260  380
Rice 080  0110
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1982 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
BYU $710  840
New Mexico 610  1010
Air Force 430  850
San Diego State 430  750
Hawaii 440  650
Colorado State 350  470
Utah 240  560
Wyoming 260  570
UTEP 160  2100
  • $ Conference champion
1982 NCAA Division I-A independents football records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 1 Penn State      1110
No. 13 Florida State      930
No. 10 Pittsburgh      930
No. 19 West Virginia      930
Boston College      831
Southwestern Louisiana      731
East Carolina      740
Miami      740
Southern Miss      740
Virginia Tech      740
Notre Dame      641
Cincinnati      650
Georgia Tech      650
Navy      650
Louisville      560
Rutgers      560
Army      470
South Carolina      470
Temple      470
Tulane      470
Syracuse      290
Memphis State      1100
Rankings from AP Poll

Notable rivalry games


The pre season poll had a top 5 of 1. Pittsburgh, 2. Washington, 3. Nebraska, 4. Alabama, and 5. North Carolina. Penn State was #8.

On September 11, #5 North Carolina lost at #1 Pittsburgh by a score of 7-6; the Tar Heels would never return to the top 5 as they went 8-4. Meanwhile, Washington, by virtue of its 55-0 win over UTEP, moved ahead of Pitt in the next poll. Florida replaced North Carolina in the top 5 that was 1. Washington, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. Nebraska, 4. Alabama, and 5. Florida.

After games of September 18, Pittsburgh was again leapfrogged by a team that dominated a weak opponent, as Nebraska beat New Mexico 68-0 and moved ahead of Pitt to #2. The rest of the top 5 was unchanged.

On September 25, #2 Nebraska was defeated at #8 Penn State by a score of 27-24 in a game that ultimately decided the national title. The outcome of the game was controversial as Penn State tight end Mike McCloskey would later admit catching a key pass out of bounds that kept the winning drive alive. Penn State replaced Nebraska in the new top 5 that was 1. Washington, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. Penn State, 4. Alabama, and 5. Florida.


On October 2, #5 Florida lost at home to unranked LSU 24-13. Georgia replaced Florida in the top 5 and also moved ahead of Alabama. The new poll was 1. Washington, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. Penn State, 4. Georgia, and 5. Alabama.

On October 9, #5 Alabama defeated #3 Penn State in Birmingham 42-21. Alabama jumped up top to #2 while SMU replaced Penn State in the top five. 1. Washington, 2. Alabama, 3. Pittsburgh, 4. Georgia, 5. SMU.

On October 16, #2 Alabama was knocked off in Knoxville by Tennessee, 35-28. Nebraska returned to the top five. 1. Washington, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. Georgia, 4. SMU, 5. Nebraska.

On October 23, Washington struggled to beat Texas Tech 10-3 so Pittsburgh moved ahead of them in the poll. The same day, Nebraska squeaked by Missouri at home 23-19 and slipped to #6, with Arkansas taking their place in the top 5. The new poll was 1. Pittsburgh, 2. Washington, 3. Georgia, 4. SMU, and 5. Arkansas.

On October 30 in Palo Alto, John Elway and Stanford stunned #2 Washington 43-31. SMU jumped ahead of Georgia into the #2 spot with a 47-9 drubbing of Texas A&M. Undefeated and #7 Arizona State beat #12 USC 17-10 and moved up to #4. The new poll was 1. Pittsburgh, 2. SMU, 3. Georgia, 4. Arizona State, and 5. Arkansas.


On November 6, #1 Pittsburgh was stunned at home by unranked Notre Dame, 31-16. #5 Arkansas was knocked off by Baylor in Waco 24-17. #3 Georgia romped over #20 Florida 44-0 and moved to the top spot. The new poll was 1. Georgia, 2. SMU, 3. Arizona State, 4. Nebraska, and 5. Penn State.

On November 13 in a Pac-10 showdown in Tempe, #7 Washington beat #3 Arizona State 17-13. That put the Huskies back in the top 5. Remembering that Penn State defeated Nebraska earlier in the season, the pollsters moved the Nittany Lions ahead of the Cornhuskers in the new poll that was 1. Georgia, 2. SMU, 3. Penn State, 4. Nebraska, 5. Washington.

On November 20, #2 SMU was tied by #9 Arkansas 17-17. #5 Washington had its Rose Bowl hopes ended as rival Washington State upset the Huskies 24-20. Pittsburgh returned to the top five replacing Washington. 1. Georgia, 2. Penn State 3. Nebraska, 4. SMU, 5. Pittsburgh.

On November 26, in a game that likely decided who would meet #1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, #2 Penn State shut down Dan Marino and #5 Pittsburgh, 19-10. The next day, #6 Arizona State was knocked out of the Rose Bowl by rival Arizona, 28-18. That gave UCLA the Pac 10 title and Rose Bowl berth. The Bruins replaced Pittsburgh in the top 5 in the final regular season poll. 1. Georgia, 2. Penn State, 3. Nebraska, 4. SMU, 5. UCLA.

#1 and #2 progress

PRE-1PittsburghWashingtonWashington 55, UTEP 0Sep 11
2WashingtonPittsburghNebraska 68, New Mexico St. 0Sep 18
3WashingtonNebraskaPenn State 27, Nebraska 24Sep 25
4-5WashingtonPittsburghAlabama 34, Arkansas St 7Oct 2
6WashingtonAlabamaTennessee 35, Alabama 28Oct 16
7WashingtonPittsburghPittsburgh 14, Syracuse 0Oct 23
8PittsburghWashingtonStanford 43, Washington 31Oct 30
9PittsburghSMUNotre Dame 31, Pitt 16Nov 6
10-11GeorgiaSMUArkansas 17, SMU 17Nov 20
12-14GeorgiaPenn StatePenn State 27, Georgia 23Jan 1

Bowl games

Final AP and UPI rankings

1. Penn State Penn State
3. Nebraska Nebraska
4. Georgia Georgia
6. Arizona State Arizona State
7. Washington Washington
8. Clemson Arkansas
9. Arkansas Pittsburgh
10. Pittsburgh Florida State
12. Ohio State Ohio State
13. Florida State North Carolina
14. Auburn Auburn
15. USC Michigan
16. Oklahoma Oklahoma
17. Texas Alabama
18. North Carolina Texas
19. West Virginia West Virginia
20. Maryland Maryland

Source: [3] [5]

Heisman Trophy

  1. Herschel Walker , RB, Georgia, 1,926 points
  2. John Elway, QB, Stanford, 1,231
  3. Eric Dickerson, RB, SMU, 465
  4. Anthony Carter, WR, Michigan, 142
  5. Dave Rimington, C, Nebraska, 137
  6. Todd Blackledge, QB, Penn State, 108
  7. Tom Ramsey, QB, UCLA, 65
  8. Tony Eason, QB, Illinois, 60
  9. Dan Marino, QB, Pittsburgh, 47
  10. Mike Rozier, RB, Nebraska, 40
  11. Curt Warner, RB, Penn State, 40

Source: [7]

Other major awards

Related Research Articles

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2009-01-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. Mitchell, Billy (December 30, 1982). "Pleasant way to go, Bear says". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). p. 1.
  3. 1 2 "Only dissent on No. 1 comes from No. 2". Eugene Register Guard. (Oregon). AP, UPI. January 3, 1983. p. 1C.
  4. "At long last". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 3, 1983. p. 23.
  5. 1 2 Donovan, Dan (January 3, 1983). "National title belongs to players - Paterno". Pittsburgh Press. p. C1.
  6. New York Times – 2006-11-17
  7. "Walker wins his Heisman on third try". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. December 5, 1982. p. 1D.