|1991 NCAA Division I-A season|
|Number of teams||106|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Florida State|
|AP Poll No. 1||Miami (FL)|
|Coaches Poll No. 1||Washington|
|Heisman Trophy||Desmond Howard (Wide receiver, Michigan)|
|Champion(s)|| Miami (FL) (AP)|
Washington (Coaches, FWAA)
|Division I-A football seasons|
The 1991 NCAA Division I-A football season was the main college football season sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The season began on August 28, 1991, and ended on January 1, 1992. For the second consecutive season, there was a split national championship. Both the Miami Hurricanes and the Washington Huskies finished the season undefeated (12–0) and with the top ranking in a nationally recognized poll.
Under the conference-bowl selection alignments of the time, the Hurricanes and Huskies could not meet in a decisive title game because Washington was slotted into the Rose Bowl as the Pac-10 champions, and the other spot in the Rose Bowl was automatically given to the Big Ten champions (in 1991, that was Michigan). The Rose Bowl's selection terms later thwarted potential title matchups of undefeated teams following the 1994 and 1997 seasons. Following the 1998 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) realignment, several Pac-10 and Big Ten teams were able to play in a BCS title game instead of being forced to play a non-title contender in the Rose Bowl; these include the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2002, 2006 and 2007, the USC Trojans in 2004 and 2005 and the Oregon Ducks in 2010.
Miami closed the 1991 season with a 22–0 shutout over No. 11 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, but their season was defined by a dramatic November victory over then No. 1 ranked and perennial rival Florida State. That game ended with the FSU place kicker missing a field goal, wide right, which would become a theme in the Florida State–Miami football rivalry; this game later took on the moniker "Wide Right I." Nebraska lost to both national champions in 1991 and finished at 9–2–1, ranked No. 15 in the AP poll.
Washington posted a 15-point victory at No. 9 Nebraska in September, a seven-point win at No. 7 California in October, and repeated as Pac-10 champions. They went on to win the Rose Bowl by 20 points over No. 4 Michigan, the Big Ten champions who featured Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard; it was Washington's second consecutive Rose Bowl win. Michigan finished at 10–2, ranked at No. 6 in both polls.
The Florida Gators captured their first official SEC title in school history (they had previously won the 1984 SEC title, but it was later vacated) in dominating fashion. Alabama finished second in the SEC with an 11–1 record, but were shutout 35–0 by the Gators. Florida's luck ran out in the Sugar Bowl, as No. 18 Notre Dame powered their way to a 39–28 win.
|School||1990 Conference||1991 Conference|
|Boston College Eagles||I-A Independent||Big East|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes||I-A Independent||Big East|
|Pittsburgh Panthers||I-A Independent||Big East|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||I-A Independent||Big East|
|Syracuse Orangemen||I-A Independent||Big East|
|Temple Owls||I-A Independent||Big East|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||I-A Independent||Big East|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||I-A Independent||Big East|
The NCAA adopted the following rule changes for the 1991 season:
In the pre-season poll, Florida State was ranked No. 1 with 54 of the 59 votes cast, Michigan was 2nd, and Miami 3rd. As of the September 10th poll, Florida State remained the overwhelming choice for No. 1 and Miami reached No. 2. Those two Sunshine State teams would continue to be 1 and 2 as their November 16 meeting approached. On November 16th in Tallahassee, the long-awaited No. 1 & No. 2 showdown had the 10–0 Seminoles hosting the 8–0 Hurricanes. Visiting Miami won, 17–16 to take the top spot. In the Pacific Northwest, Washington won its Apple Cup game by 35 points on November 23 and finished the regular season at 11–0; the Huskies took over the No. 2 spot in the final two polls of the regular season.
In the coaches poll, Florida State and Miami opened up the season 1-2 and remained that way until Miami's win on November 16 put the Hurricanes No. 1 and allowed the Huskies to move to No. 2. After the end of the regular season, the coaches moved the Washington Huskies to the No. 1 ranking. They would keep the top spot after their Rose Bowl win over Michigan to split the National Title.
The Heisman is given to the Most Outstanding Player of the year
The 1990 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with a split national championship and the ensuing controversy helped lead to the creation of the Bowl Coalition, a precursor to the Bowl Championship Series. The national title was split between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Buffaloes (11–1–1) took the AP poll while the Yellow Jackets (11–0–1) took the UPI Coaches poll by one vote over Colorado, 847 to 846. During the season Colorado had a particularly controversial victory over Missouri in what would later be known as the "Fifth Down Game".
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 1989 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Miami winning its third National Championship during the 1980s, cementing its claim as the decade's top team, winning more titles than any other program.
The 1992 NCAA Division I-A football season was the first year of the Bowl Coalition and concluded with Alabama's first national championship in thirteen years—their first since the departure of Bear Bryant. One of Bryant's former players, Gene Stallings, was the head coach, and he used a style similar to Bryant's, a smashmouth running game combined with a tough defense.
The 1993 NCAA Division I-A football season saw Florida State crowned national champions, in both the AP and Coaches poll.
The 1994 NCAA Division I-A football season, play of college football in the United States at the NCAA Division I-A level, began in August 1994 and ended on January 2, 1995. Nebraska, who finished the season undefeated, ended the year ranked No. 1 in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls. This was the first national championship of coach Tom Osborne's career at Nebraska, having come close the year before, when Nebraska lost to eventual national champion Florida State on a missed field goal as time expired.
The 1995 NCAA Division I-A football season was the first year of the Bowl Alliance.
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, 1988 became a focus for fans and critics who wondered how the traditional conferences would deal with the indies.
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 1986 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Penn State winning the national championship. Coached by Joe Paterno, they defeated Miami (Fl) 14–10 in the Fiesta Bowl. This Fiesta Bowl was the first in the game's history to decide the national championship, launching it into the top tier of bowls.
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 1980 NCAA Division I-A football season saw a university from the state of Georgia take its first national title since 1942.
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 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 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 1991 Washington Huskies football team represented the University of Washington in the 1991 NCAA Division I-A football season. Head coach Don James, in his 17th season at Washington, was assisted by coordinators Keith Gilbertson (offense) and Jim Lambright (defense), both head coaches themselves within two years.
The 1991–92 NCAA football bowl games were a series of post-season games played in December 1991 and January 1992 to end the 1991 NCAA Division I-A football season. A total of 18 team-competitive games, and two all-star games, were played. The post-season began with the California Bowl on December 14, 1991, and concluded on January 18, 1992, with the season-ending Senior Bowl.