|2004 NCAA Division I-A season|
|Number of teams||117 full members + 2 transitional|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Southern California|
|Duration||December 14, 2004 – |
January 4, 2005
|Heisman Trophy||Matt Leinart (quarterback, Southern California)|
|Bowl Championship Series|
|2005 Orange Bowl|
|Site|| Dolphin Stadium,|
Miami Gardens, Florida
|Champion(s)||Southern California (BCS—vacated, AP)|
|Division I-A football seasons|
The 2004 NCAA Division I-A football season was the highest level of college football competition in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The regular season began on August 28, 2004 and ended on December 4, 2004. The postseason concluded on January 4, 2005 with the Orange Bowl, which served as the season's BCS National Championship Game.
USC defeated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl by a score of 55–19, which earned the Trojans their second consecutive AP title and first-ever BCS title. The Orange Bowl win and accompanying BCS title were later vacated as part of the sanctions levied against USC following an NCAA investigation. USC appealed the decision but was denied by the NCAA, and the 2004 BCS title was officially vacated on June 6, 2011.
The NCAA Rules Committee adopted the following rule changes for the 2004 season:
Prior to the 2004 season, Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech left the Big East Conference to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), giving the ACC 11 members. Connecticut joined the Big East after having been an Independent since ascending to Division I-A in 2000. Troy State also left their Independent status and joined the Sun Belt Conference. Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University moved up from Division I-AA and became I-A Independents.
|School||2003 Conference||2004 Conference|
|Connecticut Huskies||I-A Independent||Big East|
|Florida Atlantic Owls||I-AA Independent||I-A Independent|
|Florida International Panthers||I-AA Independent||I-A Independent|
|Miami Hurricanes||Big East||ACC|
|Troy State Trojans||I-A Independent||Sun Belt|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||Big East||ACC|
The 2004 season ended with five undefeated teams vying for a spot in the national title game. In the 2003 season, no team finished the regular season unbeaten, and five teams finished the season with one loss. In 2004, the situation became even more complicated, as five teams went without losing, a record in the BCS era (later tied in 2009). USC of the Pac-10, Oklahoma of the Big 12, Auburn of the SEC, Utah of the MWC, and Boise State of the WAC all finished the regular season undefeated. USC and Oklahoma were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the preseason by both the AP and Coaches Polls, but the other three undefeated teams were handicapped by starting the season out of the top 15. Thus USC and OU played for the BCS National Championship in the Orange Bowl, while Auburn, Utah, and Boise State had to settle for other bowl games.
Auburn played in the Sugar Bowl and beat Virginia Tech, the ACC champion and ranked No. 8 by the BCS. Utah became the first BCS Buster and beat Pittsburgh, the champion of the Big East and ranked No. 21, in the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State lost a close, high scoring game in the Liberty Bowl to Louisville, the No. 10 ranked Conference USA champion.
As with previous seasons, fans of successful teams left out of BCS bowls were disappointed. Auburn, Utah, and Boise State all went unbeaten but were not offered a chance to compete for the BCS championship. Auburn was especially the focus of national media attention on this topic, since Auburn managed to go undefeated in the traditionally tough SEC. Adding to the frustration with the BCS system was the fact that Auburn and Utah, though both picked to play in BCS bowl games, would not be able to play each other as a match-up of highly ranked unbeatens. This confluence of events made 2004 a seminal year for serious momentum building behind a multi-team playoff system in college football, which would later be realized with the advent of the College Football Playoff.
USC was forced to vacate their BCS title win, along with their regular-season victory over rival UCLA, due to NCAA sanctions that stemmed from the USC athletics scandal. The AP title was not vacated, as the AP does not punish teams for violations. The severity of these sanctions has since been criticized by some pundits across college football.
Controversy also arose in selecting the second at-large team of the BCS after Utah. California expected to get the invitation, having been ranked fourth by the BCS entering the last week of the regular season. Texas, which had been left out of the BCS the previous season, was ranked fifth. Both teams finished with 10–1 records, but the Longhorns received a boost of support from poll voters in the final regular season rankings to overtake Cal and move into the fourth position, which ensured they would also receive the final at-large bid. Texas coach Mack Brown was criticized for publicly politicking voters to put Texas ahead of California, and Cal coach Jeff Tedford called for coaches' votes to be made public. Texas went on to defeat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, while California lost to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. Much of the pre-bowl criticisms of Texas being given the spot vs. Michigan evaporated when the Longhorns and Wolverines produced an instant classic game that was marked by a breakthrough performance by Vince Young and a Texas FG as time expired to give them a 38–37 victory.
The Associated Press, as a result of two consecutive seasons of BCS controversy, prohibited the BCS from using their poll as part of its ranking formula following the 2004 season. The AP poll was replaced by the Harris Interactive poll starting in 2005, and the AP continues to award its own national championship trophy.
In another first, the LSU Tigers lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes on a last second Hail Mary pass in the Capital One Bowl, becoming the first school to lose a non-BCS bowl a year after winning the BCS National Championship Game.
* USC finished the season with a 13–0 record but was forced to vacate two wins in 2010 as a result of NCAA sanctions.
Rankings given are AP rankings going into bowl games
The Heisman Trophy is given annually to college football's most outstanding player
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Matthew Stephen Leinart is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons. He played college football at USC where he won the Heisman Trophy and led his team to an undefeated season during his junior year, culminating with a victory in the 2005 Orange Bowl. Selected by the Arizona Cardinals 10th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, Leinart primarily served as Kurt Warner's backup for four seasons. He spent his final three seasons in a backup role for the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders. Leinart was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
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The 2005 NCAA Division I-A football season was the highest level of college football competition in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The regular season began on September 1, 2005 and ended on December 3, 2005. The postseason concluded on January 4, 2006 with the Rose Bowl, which served as the season's BCS National Championship Game.
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The 2004 USC Trojans football team represented the University of Southern California in the 2004 NCAA Division I-A football season. The 2004 Trojans football team won the 2004 BCS National Championship by winning the 2005 Orange Bowl, that year's BCS National Championship Game. The team also won the AP title for the second year in a row. It was the Trojans' first undisputed national championship since 1972, and the second time a team had gone wire-to-wire, with the Trojans holding the number 1 spot in the polls all season. The team was coached by Pete Carroll in his fourth year with the Trojans, and played their home games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
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A national championship in the highest level of college football in the United States, currently the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), is a designation awarded annually by various organizations to their selection of the best college football team. Division I FBS football is the only National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sport for which the NCAA does not sanction a yearly championship event. As such, it is sometimes unofficially referred to as a "mythical national championship".
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