1996–97 NCAA football bowl games


1996–97 NCAA football bowl games
Number of bowl teams per state.

The 1996-97 NCAA College Football Bowl Games post-season schedule followed the 1996 NCAA Division I-A regular football season in college football and contained 18 bowl games. This started with the 4th annual Las Vegas Bowl and ended with the 1997 Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl served as the Bowl Alliance national championship game for the 1996 season and occurred in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Featuring a rematch between the #1 Florida State Seminoles and the #3 Florida Gators, the Gators reversed the outcome of their regular season game with the Seminoles to capture both the AP and Bowl Alliance championships.

Contents

Non-Bowl Alliance Bowls

NOTE: Rankings used are the final regular season AP Rankings whenever noted

Las Vegas Bowl

Aloha Bowl

Carquest Bowl

Liberty Bowl

Copper Bowl

  • Wisconsin 38, Utah 10

Peach Bowl

  • (17) LSU 10, Clemson 7

Alamo Bowl

  • (21) Iowa 27, Texas Tech 0

Holiday Bowl

Independence Bowl

Sun Bowl

Outback Bowl

  • (16) Alabama 17, (15) Michigan 14

Cotton Bowl Classic

Gator Bowl

Rose Bowl

Over 100 thousand spectators were present at the 83rd Rose Bowl game, a contest that would pit the Big Ten champion Ohio State Buckeyes against the undefeated Pac-10 champion Arizona State Sun Devils. This traditional Big 10/Pac-10 match-up prevented the second-ranked Sun Devils from facing the first-ranked Florida State Seminoles in the Sugar Bowl. However, if Arizona State were to win the Rose Bowl and Florida State was to lose the Sugar Bowl, the Sun Devils would be left the lone unbeaten team in major college football, giving them a legitimate claim to the AP national title. Unfortunately for Arizona State, this was not to be. A tightly fought game throughout, Arizona State led the game 17-14 late in the fourth quarter, but would fail to prevent Joe Germaine from leading his Buckeyes to a last-minute score and a 20-17 victory. Arizona State's loss paved the way for the formerly #3 Florida Gators, who would win the Sugar Bowl, to win both the Bowl Alliance and AP championships.

Florida Citrus Bowl

  • (9) Tennessee 48, (11) Northwestern 28

Bowl Alliance Games

Orange Bowl

The second of two Orange Bowls to take place in 1996 and the 63rd to ever occur, this New Year's Eve match-up would feature the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big 12 runner-ups and major at-large team, and the Virginia Tech Hokies, champions of the Big East Conference. The 63rd Orange Bowl was the first and only Orange Bowl to be held before New Year's Day. Being two-time defending national champions, Nebraska came into the game 17-point favorites. Through the first half, it seemed as though Virginia Tech may upset the point spread, as Nebraska led only 17-14 at halftime. However, Nebraska began to express its superiority during the third quarter, scoring the game's final 17 points and eventually winning by a score of 41-21.

Fiesta Bowl

  • (7) Penn State 38, (20) Texas 15

The first of two Fiesta Bowls to occur in 1997, the 26th Fiesta Bowl was fought between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Texas Longhorns. By defeating heavily-favored Nebraska in its conference championship game, Texas earned its spot in the Fiesta Bowl. While Big Ten champion Ohio State was committed to play in the Rose Bowl, runner-up Penn State was invited oppose Texas. Though Texas dominated the first half, Penn State turned the game around after halftime, ultimately defeating the Longhorns by a 23-point margin.

Sugar Bowl

The 63rd Sugar Bowl featured two heated state rivals coming off a regular season bout in Tallahassee in which the Seminoles were victorious by a score of 24-21. The designated national championship game of the Bowl Alliance, the Sugar Bowl was intended to match up the two highest ranked teams in the country. However, due to the obligations of the Pac-10 champion to appear in the Rose Bowl, the second-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils were scheduled to play the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. By default, the third-ranked Florida Gators were invited to the Sugar Bowl. By employing the shotgun formation as a strategy to counter the tenacious FSU pass rush, the Gators were able to completely reverse the outcome of the regular season game, defeating the Seminoles in one of the most lopsided championship games ever (another factor being the location at the neutral Louisiana Superdome, rather than the raucous Doak Campbell Stadium).

The first half was a tightly fought contest with a 24-17 Florida lead at halftime. Starting out in the third quarter, the Seminoles would cut the deficit to four points. However, the Gators would go on to bring an offensive onslaught Florida State could not counter, scoring 28 straight points to end the game with a score of 52-20. Florida's victory was largely due to the efforts of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who would throw three touchdowns passes (all to Ike Hilliard) and rush for another.

Final rankings

AP Poll

1. Florida
2. Ohio State
3. Florida State
4. Arizona State
5. BYU
6. Nebraska
7. Penn State
8. Colorado
9. Tennessee
10. North Carolina
11. Alabama
12. LSU
13. Virginia Tech
14. Miami (FL)
15. Northwestern
16. Washington
17. Kansas State
18. Iowa
19. Notre Dame
20. Michigan
21. Syracuse
22. Wyoming
23. Texas
24. Auburn
25. Army

Coaches' Poll

1. Florida
2. Ohio State
3. Florida State
4. Arizona State
5. BYU
6. Nebraska
7. Penn State
8. Colorado
9. Tennessee
10. North Carolina
11. Alabama
12. Virginia Tech
13. LSU
14. Miami (FL)
15. Washington
16. Northwestern
17. Kansas State
18. Iowa
19. Syracuse
20. Michigan
21. Notre Dame
22. Wyoming
23. Texas
24. Auburn
25. Army


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