2004 NCAA Division I-A football season

Last updated
2004 NCAA Division I-A season
Matt Leinart's Heisman Trophy.jpg
Heisman Trophy won by Matt Leinart for the 2004 season
Number of teams117 full members + 2 transitional
Preseason AP No. 1 Southern California
Post-season
DurationDecember 14, 2004 –
January 4, 2005
Bowl games 28
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
  2003
2005  

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.

Contents

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.

Rule changes

The NCAA Rules Committee adopted the following rule changes for the 2004 season:

Conference changes

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.

School2003 Conference2004 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

BCS Controversy

Undefeated teams

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. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Rose Bowl

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.

AP Poll

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.

Conference standings

2004 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 10 Virginia Tech $ 71    103 
No. 15 Florida State  62    93 
No. 11 Miami  53    93 
No. 23 Virginia  53    84 
North Carolina  53    66 
Georgia Tech  44    75 
Clemson  44    65 
NC State  35    56 
Maryland  35    56 
Wake Forest  17    47 
Duke  17    29 
  • $ BCS representative as conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Big 12 Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
Northern Division
Colorado xy 44    85 
Iowa State x 44    75 
Nebraska  35    56 
Missouri  35    56 
Kansas  26    47 
Kansas State  26    47 
Southern Division
No. 3 Oklahoma xy$ 80    121 
No. 5 Texas  % 71    111 
Texas A&M  53    75 
No. 18 Texas Tech  53    84 
Oklahoma State  44    75 
Baylor  17    38 
Championship: Oklahoma 42, Colorado 3
  • $ BCS representative as conference champion
  • % BCS at-large representative
  • x Division champion/co-champions
  • y Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Big East Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 25 Pittsburgh $+ 42    84 
No. 21 Boston College + 42    93 
West Virginia + 42    84 
Syracuse + 42    66 
Connecticut  33    84 
Rutgers  15    47 
Temple  15    29 
  • $ BCS representative as conference champion
  • + Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 8 Iowa + 71    102 
No. 14 Michigan $+ 71    93 
No. 17 Wisconsin  62    93 
Northwestern  53    66 
No. 20 Ohio State  44    84 
Purdue  44    75 
Michigan State  44    57 
Minnesota  35    75 
Penn State  26    47 
Illinois  17    38 
Indiana  17    38 
  • $ BCS representative as conference champion
  • + Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Conference USA football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 6 Louisville $ 80    111 
Memphis  53    84 
Southern Miss  53    75 
Cincinnati  53    75 
UAB  53    75 
TCU  35    56 
Tulane  35    56 
South Florida  35    47 
Houston  35    38 
East Carolina  26    29 
Army  26    29 
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
East Division
Miami x 71    85 
Akron  62    65 
Marshall  62    66 
Kent State  44    56 
Ohio  26    47 
Buffalo  26    29 
UCF  08    011 
West Division
Toledo xy$ 71    94 
Northern Illinois x 71    93 
Bowling Green  62    93 
Eastern Michigan  44    47 
Central Michigan  35    47 
Ball State  26    29 
Western Michigan  08    110 
Championship: Toledo 35, Miami 27
  • $ Conference champion
  • x Division champion/co-champions
  • y Championship game participant
2004 Mountain West Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 4 Utah $ 70    120 
New Mexico  52    75 
BYU  43    56 
Wyoming  34    75 
Air Force  34    56 
Colorado State  34    47 
San Diego State  25    47 
UNLV  16    29 
  • $ Conference champion and BCS representative as top non-AQ school to meet automatic qualification criteria
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Pacific-10 Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 1 USC † $ 80    130 
No. 9 California  71    102 
No. 19 Arizona State  53    93 
Oregon State  53    75 
UCLA  44    66 
Oregon  44    56 
Washington State  35    56 
Stanford  26    47 
Arizona  26    38 
Washington  08    110 
  • $ Conference champion
  • † – USC later vacated 2 wins (1 in conference), as well as the BCS and Pac-10 Championships, due to NCAA sanctions.
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 SEC football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
Eastern Division
No. 13 Tennessee x 71    103 
No. 7 Georgia  62    102 
Florida  44    75 
South Carolina  44    65 
Kentucky  17    29 
Vanderbilt  17    29 
Western Division
No. 2 Auburn x$ 80    130 
No. 16 LSU  62    93 
Alabama  35    66 
Arkansas  35    56 
Ole Miss  35    47 
Mississippi State  26    38 
Championship: Auburn 38, Tennessee 28
  • $ BCS representative as conference champion
  • x Division champion/co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Sun Belt Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
North Texas $ 70    75 
Troy  52    75 
New Mexico State  52    56 
Louisiana–Monroe  43    56 
Middle Tennessee  34    56 
Arkansas State  34    38 
Louisiana–Lafayette  35    47 
Utah State  25    38 
Idaho  25    39 
  • $ Conference champion
2004 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 12 Boise State $ 80    111 
UTEP  62    84 
No. 22 Fresno State  53    93 
Louisiana Tech  53    66 
Hawaii  44    85 
Nevada  35    57 
Tulsa  35    48 
SMU  35    38 
Rice  26    38 
San Jose State  17    29 
  • $ Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 NCAA Division I-A independents football records
Conf  Overall
Team W L    W L 
No. 24 Navy      102 
Notre Dame      66 
Rankings from AP Poll

Final AP Poll

Utah Utes fans rush the field and carry the goalpost after defeating rival BYU, completing a perfect regular season, and becoming the first BCS Buster by clinching a spot in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl (hence the sombrero). UteFansRush.JPG
Utah Utes fans rush the field and carry the goalpost after defeating rival BYU, completing a perfect regular season, and becoming the first BCS Buster by clinching a spot in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl (hence the sombrero).
  1. USC (11–0)*
  2. Auburn (13–0)
  3. Oklahoma (12–1)
  4. Utah (12–0)
  5. Texas (11–1)
  6. Louisville (11–1)
  7. Georgia (10–2)
  8. Iowa (10–2)
  9. California (10–2)
  10. Virginia Tech (10–3)
  11. Miami (9–3)
  12. Boise State (11–1)
  13. Tennessee (10–3)
  14. Michigan (9–3)
  15. Florida State (9–3)
  16. LSU (9–3)
  17. Wisconsin (9–3)
  18. Texas Tech (8–4)
  19. Arizona State (9–3)
  20. Ohio State (8–4)
  21. Boston College (9–3)
  22. Fresno State (9–3)
  23. Virginia (8–4)
  24. Navy (10–2)
  25. Pittsburgh (8–4)

* USC finished the season with a 13–0 record but was forced to vacate two wins in 2010 as a result of NCAA sanctions.

Bowl games

BCS bowls

Rankings given are AP rankings going into bowl games

Other New Years Day bowls

December bowl games

UCLA vs. Wyoming in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl 2004LVBowl.JPG
UCLA vs. Wyoming in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl

Heisman Trophy voting

The Heisman Trophy is given annually to college football's most outstanding player

Other major awards

See also

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