|1988 NCAA Division I-A season|
|Number of teams||104|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Florida State|
|Heisman Trophy||Barry Sanders (running back, Oklahoma State)|
|Division I-A football seasons|
The 1988 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Notre Dame winning the national championship. The Fighting Irish won the title via a 34–21 defeat of previously unbeaten West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. With 4 of the final Top 5 teams being independents (with the University of Miami and Florida State joining the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers), 1988 became a focus for fans and critics who wondered how the traditional conferences would deal with the indies (the answer ultimately involved all of these teams joining major conferences).
Notre Dame had several notable victories this season, including a 19–17 victory over No. 9 Michigan, won on a last drive field goal, which started off the championship season. The season's marquee game was a 31–30 victory over No. 1 Miami. Entering the game, Miami had a 36-game regular season winning streak, 20 straight road victories and a 16-game winning streak overall. This year was also the first time Notre Dame and USC had ever met when ranked No. 1 and No. 2. Most notable about this game is Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz's decision to leave behind two of his stars, Tony Brooks and Ricky Watters because they were late, cementing discipline as the main theme of this championship team.
This year's edition of the UCLA–USC rivalry game featured a second ranked USC and a fourth ranked UCLA. For the second year in a row the Rose Bowl berth was on the line but for USC it also had national title implications as the rivalry game with Notre Dame was the following week. USC beat UCLA but lost to Notre Dame, and then lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders ran the Wing T offense all the way to the Heisman Trophy and numerous rushing records.
|WEEKS||No. 1||No. 2||Event|
|PRE||Florida State||Nebraska||Miami 31, Florida St. 0||Sep 3|
|1||Miami||Nebraska||UCLA 41, Nebraska 28||Sep 10|
|2-6||Miami||UCLA||Notre Dame 31, Miami 30||Oct 15|
|7-8||UCLA||Notre Dame||Washington St. 34, UCLA 30||Oct 29|
|9-12||Notre Dame||USC||Notre Dame 27, USC 10||Nov 26|
|13-14||Notre Dame||Miami||Notre Dame 34, West Virginia 21||Jan 1|
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