1983 NCAA Division I-A football season

Last updated
1983 NCAA Division I-A season
Number of teams105
Preseason AP No. 1 Nebraska [1]
DurationDecember 10, 1983 –
January 2, 1984
Bowl games 16
Heisman Trophy Mike Rozier (running back, Nebraska)
Champion(s) Miami (FL) (AP, Coaches, FWAA)
Division I-A football seasons

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 Hurricanes' 31–30 win over Nebraska is still talked about as one of the greatest games of all time, not only for its last minute finish, but for its role in changing the face of college football. Miami came into the game ranked No. 5, but losses by No. 2 Texas in the Cotton Bowl and No. 4 Illinois in the Rose Bowl launched them to No. 1 (despite protests from No. 3 Auburn, who played the toughest schedule in the nation that year).

Nebraska scored a touchdown with 48 seconds remaining, putting them within one point of the Hurricanes. Despite knowing a tie would still give Nebraska the national title, Coach Tom Osborne decided to go for two points and the win rather than one point and the tie. Miami was able to hold, snapping Nebraska's 22-game winning streak and launching Miami as a powerhouse program.

This Miami team was the first to win a national title without a single player voted to the first team All-Americans and only the second to win a national title gaining more passing yards than rushing.

The Auburn Tigers, featuring Bo Jackson also had a stellar season going 11–1 and beating Michigan in the Sugar Bowl 9–7. Despite entering the bowl games ranked third in both major polls, and with both teams ranked higher losing their bowl games, the Tigers ended ranked third in the final AP poll as Miami jumped from 5th to ranked No. 1 when they beat No. 1 ranked Nebraska to gain the National Championship. [2] Auburn had played the toughest schedule in the nation, including eight bowl teams, seven of which were ranked in the top 20 (four in the top ten). Even with this difficult schedule the Tigers were ranked first by a few polls, including The New York Times computer rankings. The NCAA record book also formally recognizes the Tigers as co-national champions, along with Nebraska (and Miami). [3] It is not uncommon for the NCAA record book to "recognize" multiple national champions in a given year, with the AP and Coaches' poll winner regarded as national champions.

The Holiday Bowl was also a classic, as Brigham Young University, led by future NFL star Steve Young, defeated Missouri with a last second halfback pass.

The annual rivalry game between Oregon and Oregon State is still widely known and derided as "The Toilet Bowl", as the teams played to a 0–0 tie, the last scoreless tie in college football. The game featured 11 total turnovers, as 6 fumbles were lost (out of 11 total), 5 interceptions, and 4 missed field goals.

This season saw no conference have two or more teams tie for the title—an event that did not happen again in either Division I-A or its successor, Division I FBS, until 2009. (Note, however, that even when a conference officially recognizes multiple champions, it will invariably have some kind of tiebreaker system to determine placement for bowl berths.)

Rule changes

Conference and program changes

School1982 Conference1983 Conference
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Independent ACC


The pre season top five was 1. Nebraska 2. Oklahoma, 3. Texas, 4. Penn State, and 5. Auburn.

In the kickoff classic on August 29, Nebraska routed defending national champion Penn State, 44–6. Penn State opened with 3 losses and never made it back into the top 20. They were replaced in the top 5 by Notre Dame.

September 17 was a day of shakeup in the top 5. No. 2 Oklahoma lost at home to No. 6 Ohio State, 24–12. No. 3 Texas won at No. 4 Auburn 20–7. No. 5 Notre Dame lost at home to Michigan State, 28–23. The new poll was 1. Nebraska, 2. Texas, 3. Ohio State, 4. Arizona, and 5. North Carolina. Nebraska and Texas would hold their spots at No. 1 and No. 2 for the remainder of the regular season.

On September 24, No. 3 Ohio State lost at No. 7 Iowa 20–14. The new poll was 1. Nebraska, 2. Texas, 3. Arizona, 4. Iowa, and 5. North Carolina. Miami appears in the poll for the first time in the top 20, after shutting out No. 13 Notre Dame 20–0.


On October 1, No. 3 Arizona was tied by California at Berkeley 33–33 and No. 4 Iowa was shut out at Illinois, 33–0. The new poll was 1. Nebraska, 2. Texas, 3. Alabama, 4. North Carolina and 5. West Virginia.

On October 8, No. 3 Alabama lost at Penn State, 34–28. Auburn replaced their rivals in the top 5.

October 15 saw no changes as the top 5 all won.

On October 22, No. 4 West Virginia lost at Penn State 41–23. Florida replaced them in the top 5 that was 1. Nebraska, 2. Texas, 3. North Carolina, 4. Auburn, and 5. Florida.

On October 29, No. 3 North Carolina started a 3–game losing streak by falling to No. 13 Maryland 28–26. No. 5 Florida lost at No. 4 Auburn 28–21. The new top five was 1. Nebraska, 2. Texas, 3. Auburn, 4. Georgia, and 5. Miami


November 5 saw no change in the top 5, but on November 12, No. 4 Georgia lost at home to No. 3 Auburn, 13–7. No. 5 Illinois clinched the Big 10 title and Rose Bowl berth with a 49–21 rout of Indiana, their 9th straight win. The Illini jumped ahead of Miami and replaced Georgia at No. 4. That would be the last change in the top 5 for the regular season. The key traditional New Year's Day bowl matchups were set with No. 1 Nebraska facing No. 5 Miami in the Orange Bowl, No. 2 Texas facing No. 7 Georgia in the Cotton Bowl, No. 3 Auburn facing Big 10 runner-up No. 8 Michigan in the Sugar Bowl, and No. 4 Illinois facing unranked Pac-10 champion UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

Conference standings

1983 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Maryland $500  840
North Carolina 420  840
Georgia Tech 320  380
Virginia 330  650
Duke 330  380
Wake Forest 150  470
NC State 150  380
No. 11 Clemson *000  911
  • $ Conference champion
  • * – Clemson was under NCAA and ACC probation and was ineligible for the ACC title. As a result, their ACC games did not count in the league standings. [4]
Rankings from AP Poll
1983 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 2 Nebraska $700  1210
Missouri 520  750
Oklahoma 520  840
Oklahoma State 340  840
Iowa State 340  470
Kansas 250  461
Colorado 250  470
Kansas State 160  380
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1983 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 10 Illinois $900  1020
No. 8 Michigan 810  930
No. 14 Iowa 720  930
No. 9 Ohio State 630  930
Wisconsin 540  740
Purdue 351  371
Michigan State 261  461
Indiana 270  380
Northwestern 270  290
Minnesota 090  1100
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1983 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Northern Illinois $810  1020
Toledo 720  920
Bowling Green 720  830
Central Michigan 720  830
Ball State 440  650
Western Michigan 450  650
Miami 350  470
Ohio 360  470
Kent State 180  1100
Eastern Michigan 090  1100
  • $ Conference champion
1983 Missouri Valley Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Tulsa $500  830
No. 1 Southern Illinois ^410  1310
No. 5 Indiana State ^320  940
New Mexico State 320  560
Illinois State 221  641
Wichita State 330  380
Drake 160  1100
West Texas State 051  0101
  • $ Conference champion
  • ^ NCAA Division I-AA playoff participant
  • The conference was a hybrid of NCAA Division I-A and I-AA programs. New Mexico State, Tulsa, and Wichita State were I-A and the other teams were I-AA.
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA Football Committee poll
1983 Pacific Coast Athletic Association football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Cal State Fullerton $600  840
Utah State 420  650
Long Beach State 330  840
Fresno State 330  740
San Jose State 330  560
Pacific (CA) 240  480
UNLV 060  0110
  • $ Conference champion
  • Records adjusted for UNLV's forfeit of all 7 victories
1983 Pacific-10 Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 17 UCLA $611  741
Washington 520  840
Washington State 530  740
USC 430  461
Arizona 431  731
Arizona State 331  641
Oregon 331  461
California 341  551
Oregon State 161  281
Stanford 170  1100
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1983 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 3 Auburn $600  1110
No. 4 Georgia 510  1011
No. 6 Florida 420  921
Tennessee 420  930
No. 15 Alabama 420  840
Ole Miss 420  660
Kentucky 240  651
Mississippi State 150  380
LSU 060  470
Vanderbilt 060  290
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1983 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 5 Texas $800  1110
No. 12 SMU 710  1020
Baylor 431  741
Texas A&M 431  551
Arkansas 440  650
Texas Tech 341  371
Houston 350  470
TCU 161  182
Rice 080  1100
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1983 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 7 BYU $700  1110
No. 13 Air Force 520  1020
Wyoming 530  750
New Mexico 430  660
Hawaii 331  551
Utah 440  560
Colorado State 440  570
San Diego State 161  291
UTEP 080  2100
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1983 NCAA Division I-A independents football records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 1 Miami (FL)      1110
Virginia Tech      920
No. 19 Boston College      930
No. 16 West Virginia      930
No. 20 East Carolina      830
No. 18 Pittsburgh      831
Penn State      841
Southern Miss      740
Memphis State      641
Florida State      840
Notre Dame      750
Syracuse      650
South Carolina      560
Cincinnati      461
Southwestern Louisiana      460
Temple      470
Tulane      470
Louisville      380
Navy      380
Rutgers      380
Army      290
Rankings from AP Poll

AP final poll

  1. Miami (FL)
  2. Nebraska
  3. Auburn
  4. Georgia
  5. Texas
  6. Florida
  7. Brigham Young
  8. Michigan
  9. Ohio State
  10. Illinois
  11. Clemson
  12. SMU
  13. Air Force
  14. Iowa
  15. Alabama
  16. West Virginia
  17. UCLA
  18. Pittsburgh
  19. Boston College
  20. East Carolina

Final coaches poll

  1. Miami (FL)
  2. Nebraska
  3. Auburn
  4. Georgia
  5. Texas
  6. Florida
  7. Brigham Young
  8. Ohio St.
  9. Michigan
  10. Illinois
  11. Southern Methodist
  12. Alabama
  13. UCLA
  14. Iowa
  15. Air Force
  16. West Virginia
  17. Penn St.
  18. Oklahoma St.
  19. Pittsburgh
  20. Boston College

Notable rivalry games

No. 1 and No. 2 Progress

In the AP preseason poll released on August 27, Big 8 Conference rivals Nebraska and Oklahoma were No. 1 and No. 2. After the Oklahoma Sooners lost 24–14 to Ohio State on September 17, the Nebraska Cornhuskers remained No. 1 and were trailed for nearly the entire season by Texas. Nebraska received all 60 of the first place votes in the polls of September 26 and October 3, and no fewer than 51 as the season continued, while the Longhorns never received more than five votes during the same period. Meanwhile, the University of Miami Hurricanes, unranked in the preseason Top 20, began winning after their first week 28–3 loss to Florida. Miami came in at No. 15 in the September 26 poll. As they continued unbeaten, the Hurricanes gathered force, rising to No. 12, No. 10, No. 8, No. 7, and reached No. 5 by October 31, where they remained in the final regular season poll after they were invited to play against Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

Bowl games

Heisman Trophy voting

The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award is given to the

Most Outstanding Player of the year
Winner: Mike Rozier, Nebraska RB (1,801 points)

Other annual awards

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-09-04. Retrieved 2009-01-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. Barnhart, Tony. "Auburn Wins 1984 Sugar Bowl, but National Championship Still Eludes Tigers". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/CBS. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
  3. http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/stats/football_records/2013/FBS.pdf
  4. Williams, Larry (2012). The Danny Ford Years at Clemson.