1994 NCAA Division I-A football season

Last updated
1994 NCAA Division I-A season
Number of teams107 [1]
Preseason AP No. 1 Florida [2]
Bowl games 19
Heisman Trophy Rashaan Salaam (running back, Colorado)
Bowl Coalition Championship
1995 Orange Bowl
Site Miami Orange Bowl,
Miami, Florida
Champion(s) Nebraska (AP, Coaches, FWAA)
Division I-A football seasons

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.


Although Osborne's team finished the season unbeaten, the national championship picture again was engulfed in controversy. For much of the second half of the season, Nebraska and Penn State were regarded as the top two teams in the country. This raised the possibility of a split national championship for the third time since 1990, due in large part to the system in place that had been concocted to avoid a split title.

Following the 1991 season, where Miami and Washington split the national championship in the AP and Coaches' polls, the Bowl Coalition was founded. The Coalition consisted of six bowls, with the Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, and Sugar bowls were all considered potential hosts for a national championship game. Since three of these bowls already had specific tie-ins with conferences, an agreement was struck where the conferences would agree to release those teams from their contractual obligations in order to achieve a No. 1 vs No. 2 matchup. For the first two years of the Coalition, this did occur without incident as the Sugar and Orange Bowls in 1993 and 1994 featured No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in their respective games.

The problem with this as far as 1994 was concerned was that the Rose Bowl, which featured the Pac-10 and Big Ten champions playing each other, was not included in the Coalition and thus a team that finished No. 1 or No. 2 in the polls from those two conferences could not be considered by the Coalition to be its national champion. Nebraska, as a member of the Big Eight Conference, was part of the coalition while Penn State was not. As Nebraska went on to win the conference title, it earned an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl to face off against No. 3 Miami, who won the Big East title and was No. 2 in the Coalition pool. Thus Miami, who as recently as two years earlier was in the Coalition championship game, had a chance to stake a claim as the national champion with a win (as they would have been awarded the Coaches' Trophy) and all but ensure a split title with Penn State provided they defeated No. 13 Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

On January 1, 1995, Nebraska defeated Miami in the Orange Bowl 24–17 and clinched the championship. The next day Penn State defeated Oregon in the Rose Bowl by a count of 38–20 and secured the No. 2 spot in the polls.

In the offseason that followed, the Bowl Coalition was disbanded and in its place came the Bowl Alliance, which attempted to serve the same purpose by rotating a national championship game between the Sugar, Fiesta, and Orange Bowls. Like the Bowl Coalition before it, the Bowl Alliance did not include the Rose Bowl and two of the three national championship games did not feature a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup, with the 1997 season seeing another split national championship.

Conference and program changes

School1993 Conference1994 Conference
Northeast Louisiana Indians Southland (I-AA) I-A Independent

Southwest Conference announces dissolution

In February 1994, before the season began, an announcement was made regarding the future of the Southwest Conference. In 1991, the SWC became an all-Texas conference as Arkansas left the SWC to join the Southeastern Conference. As 1994 began Texas was rumored to be considering joining the Pac-10 with Big Eight member Colorado (rumors that would resurface over a decade later, which eventually resulted in Colorado joining the Pac-10 with Utah to form the Pac-12), while Texas A&M was reported to be looking at joining the SEC (which they would eventually do in 2012). On February 25, 1994, it was announced that Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Baylor would be joining with all eight of the teams in the Big Eight to form the Big 12 Conference, in 1996. Following this decision, another decision was made regarding the future of remaining SWC members SMU, Houston, TCU, and Rice; SMU, TCU, and Rice would join the Western Athletic Conference while Houston joined Conference USA. (Of the schools that joined the Big 12, as noted, the only one that did not stay in the conference was Texas A&M. TCU, SMU, and Rice all eventually became part of Conference USA as well, with TCU being the first to join while the other three schools joined as part of the 2005 conference realignment. TCU left for the Mountain West Conference in 2005 and eventually joined their former SWC brethren in the Big 12, while SMU and Houston became part of the American Athletic Conference in 2013 with the former Big East football schools that were still in the conference. Rice still plays in C-USA.)

Heisman Trophy

The 1994 Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony was held on December 10, 1994, at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City. The five finalists were:

Jay Barker, quarterback, Alabama
Ki-Jana Carter, running back, Penn State
Kerry Collins, quarterback, Penn State
Steve McNair, quarterback, Alcorn State
Rashaan Salaam, running back, Colorado

Warren Sapp from Miami was the 6th finalist and also attended the ceremony.

McNair's nomination as a finalist was a rare feat, as Alcorn State was a member of Division I-AA and I-AA awarded the Walter Payton Award to its most outstanding player (which McNair won).

The Heisman voters awarded the trophy to Salaam, who also won the Walter Camp Award and the Doak Walker Award. Salaam received 400 first place votes and 1743 total points, 842 more than second-place Carter. McNair finished third, sixteen points ahead of Collins, and Barker finished a distant fifth.

Other players receiving votes were Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp, Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier, Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips and offensive tackle Zach Wiegert, and Washington running back Napoleon Kaufman.

Notable games

Other notes

After being played for the first two years at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, the SEC Championship Game moved to its now-permanent home in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, the demolition and reconstruction of Gator Bowl Stadium that coincided with the Jacksonville Jaguars' entry into the NFL for 1995 forced the Gator Bowl to move to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville for its 1994 playing. The game returned to Jacksonville in the newly built Jacksonville Municipal Stadium the following year. Also, John Hancock Insurance's deal for naming rights to the Sun Bowl expired and the game reverted to its former name.

Although Nebraska, Penn State and Alabama were still ranked in the Top 10, many of college football's legendary[ citation needed ] teams finished the regular season with their lowest rankings in years. Ohio State finished the season ranked 14th in the AP poll while Michigan was No. 20 and USC No. 21. Notre Dame, which started the season ranked fourth, finished the season unranked as did preseason No. 16 Oklahoma.

Rule changes

Due to several fighting incidents that occurred during the 1993 season (including one between the Miami Hurricanes and the Colorado Buffaloes that resulted in 12 ejections), the following changes were made:

Conference standings

1994 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 4 Florida State $800  1011
No. 17 NC State 620  930
No. 15 Virginia 530  930
Duke 530  840
North Carolina 530  840
Clemson 440  560
Maryland 260  470
Wake Forest 170  380
Georgia Tech 080  1100
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1994 Big East Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 6 Miami (FL) $700  1020
Virginia Tech 520  840
Syracuse 430  740
West Virginia 430  760
No. 23 Boston College 331  741
Rutgers 241  551
Pittsburgh 250  380
Temple 070  290
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1994 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 1 Nebraska $700  1300
No. 3 Colorado  %610  1110
No. 19 Kansas State 520  930
Oklahoma 430  660
Kansas 340  650
Missouri 250  381
Oklahoma State 061  371
Iowa State 061  0101
  • $ – Bowl Coalition representative as champion
    % – Bowl Coalition at-large representative
Rankings from AP Poll
1994 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 2 Penn State $800  1200
No. 14 Ohio State 620  940
Wisconsin 521  831
No. 12 Michigan 530  840
Illinois 440  750
Purdue 332  542
Iowa 341  551
Indiana 350  650
Northwestern 350  461
Minnesota 170  380
Michigan State080  0110
  • $ Conference champion
  • † Michigan State forfeited 5 wins, 4 conference wins
Rankings from AP Poll
1994 Big West Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Nevada +510  920
UNLV +510  750
Southwestern Louisiana +510  650
Pacific (CA) 420  650
Northern Illinois 330  470
San Jose State 330  380
Utah State 240  380
New Mexico State 240  380
Louisiana Tech 150  380
Arkansas State 060  1100
  • + Conference co-champions
1994 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Central Michigan $810  930
Bowling Green 710  920
Western Michigan 530  740
Miami 530  551
Ball State 531  551
Toledo 431  641
Eastern Michigan 540  560
Kent State 270  290
Akron 180  1100
Ohio 090  0110
  • $ Conference champion
1994 Pacific-10 Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 11 Oregon $710  940
No. 13 USC 620  831
No. 20 Arizona 620  840
No. 21 Washington State 530  840
Washington 440  740
UCLA 350  560
California 350  470
Oregon State 260  470
Stanford 260  371
Arizona State 260  380
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1994 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
Eastern Division
No. 7 Florida x$710  1021
No. 22 Tennessee 530  840
South Carolina 440  750
Georgia 341  641
Vanderbilt 260  560
Kentucky 080  1100
Western Division
No. 5 Alabama x800  1210
No. 9 Auburn 611  911
No. 24 Mississippi State 530  840
LSU 350  470
Arkansas 260  470
Ole Miss 260  470
Championship: Florida 24, Alabama 23
  • $ Conference champion
  • x Division champion/co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1994 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 8 Texas A&M*601  1001
No. 25 Texas +430  840
Baylor +430  750
TCU +430  750
Texas Tech +430  660
Rice +430  560
Houston 160  1100
SMU 061  191
  • + Conference co-champions
  • *Texas A&M ineligible for championship and post-season due to NCAA sanctions
Rankings from AP Poll
1994 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
No. 16 Colorado State $710  1020
No. 10 Utah 620  1020
No. 18 BYU 620  1030
Air Force 620  840
Wyoming 440  660
New Mexico 440  570
Fresno State 341  571
San Diego State 260  470
UTEP 161  371
Hawaii 080  381
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1994 NCAA Division I-A independents football records
Conf  Overall
TeamW L T  W L T
East Carolina     750
Louisville     650
Memphis     650
Southern Miss     650
Notre Dame     651
Army     470
Northeast Louisiana     380
Navy     380
Tulsa     380
Cincinnati     281
Tulane     1100
Rankings from AP Poll

Bowl Coalition No. 1 and No. 2

The Bowl Coalition did not include the Big 10 and Pacific-10 conferences, whose champions played in the Rose Bowl. Penn State, which was ranked No. 1 in the Oct 18 and Oct 25 polls, and No. 2 for the remainder of the season, finished the regular season 11–0–0 and played in the Rose Bowl as the champion of the Big Ten.

PRE Florida SEC Notre Dame Independent
1FloridaSEC Nebraska Big 8
2NebraskaBig 8FloridaSEC
3-7FloridaSECNebraskaBig 8
8-9No. 2 Colorado Big 8No. 3 NebraskaBig 8
10-11NebraskaBig 8No. 3 Auburn SEC
12NebraskaBig 8No. 3 FloridaSEC
13–14NebraskaBig 8No. 3 Alabama SEC
15NebraskaBig 8No. 3 Miami Big East

Bowl games

Final AP Poll

  1. Nebraska
  2. Penn State
  3. Colorado
  4. Florida State
  5. Alabama
  6. Miami (FL)
  7. Florida
  8. Texas A&M
  9. Auburn
  10. Utah
  11. Oregon
  12. Michigan
  13. USC
  14. Ohio State
  15. Virginia
  16. Colorado State
  17. N.C. State
  18. BYU
  19. Kansas State
  20. Arizona
  21. Washington State
  22. Tennessee
  23. Boston College
  24. Mississippi State
  25. Texas

Final Coaches Poll

  1. Nebraska
  2. Penn State
  3. Colorado
  4. Alabama
  5. Florida State
  6. Miami (FL)
  7. Florida
  8. Utah
  9. Ohio St.
  10. Brigham Young
  11. Oregon
  12. Michigan
  13. Virginia
  14. Colorado State
  15. Southern California
  16. Kansas State
  17. North Carolina State
  18. Tennessee
  19. Washington State
  20. Arizona
  21. North Carolina
  22. Boston College
  23. Texas
  24. Virginia Tech
  25. Mississippi State

Heisman Trophy voting

The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award is given to the Most Outstanding Player of the year


Rashaan Salaam, Colorado, JR. RB (1400 votes)

Other major awards

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  1. http://www.jhowell.net/cf/cf1994.htm
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2009-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. http://www.collegepollarchive.com/football/ap/seasons.cfm?appollid=747#.U_kFfPmwJcQ
  4. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-10-31/sports/9410310024_1_cornhuskers-nittany-lions-orange-bowl