1986 NCAA Division I-A football season


1986 NCAA Division I-A football season

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.

Miami came into the game #1 and Penn State #2. In a move that would come to symbolize the game for years to come, Miami arrived wearing combat fatigues while Penn State arrived wearing suits and ties.

Despite all the hype surrounding Miami, Penn State forced Heisman trophy winner Vinny Testaverde to throw five interceptions, including one in the end zone with 18 seconds left, winning the game for the Nittany Lions.

Key matchups and upsets

Oklahoma and Michigan began the season at #1 and #2. A 28-16 defeat of Oklahoma by Miami on September 27 pushed Miami into the #1 ranking. Alabama moved into the number 2 spot. Probably the strongest case for Penn State was a defeat of a well-regarded #2 ranked Alabama team 23-3 at Tuscaloosa on October 26.Looney, Douglas S. - A Midseason Run For Respect. Penn State made believers out of 'Bama and gave two minor bowls major hopes for New Year's Day. Sports Illustrated, November 3, 1986.] This pushed Penn State into the number two spot. Otherwise, both Miami and Penn State had a number of teams on their schedule that were not strong opponents. [Reilly, Rick - It Only Hurts For A Little While. Just ask Cincinnati or any number of other college football have-nots who, week after week, are willing to serve as fodder for powerhouses like Miami and Penn State, most of whom have discovered that a prerequisite for a trip to the top of the polls—and into a major bowl game—is a cream-puff schedule. Sports Illustrated, November 24, 1986] Michigan defeated Iowa in a rematch of the previous season's #1-#2 Iowa game. Three games later, Michigan was number 2 and undefeated after Penn State fell in the ranksings following a 17-15 close win to Maryland.

Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst threw five interceptions in a 21-21 tie with Washington StateReilly, Rick - Coming Out Of The Desert Darkness With The Sun Devils. Sports Illustrated, November 17, 1986] ASU's 16-9 win over the UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl stadium on October 4 would later prove to be the deciding game in the conference. The Sun Devils beat both USC and UCLA in Los Angeles, the first Pacific Ten conference team to do so. The Sun Devils defeated outgoing coach Joe Kapp's California Golden Bears team 49-0. Kapp had unzipped his pants in front of the Seattle media following an embarrassing 50-18 loss against Washington on October 4th. The win over Cal, combined with the UCLA loss to Stanford, enabled the Sun Devils to clinch the Rose Bowl Berth on November 8. The early clinching of the Rose Bowl bid for Arizona State began a scramble for all the Bowl games to confirm teams before the bids were to be extended on November 22.

The Michigan Wolverines football team began the season ranked number 3 in the nation. A #1 vs #2 matchup the previous season between Iowa and Michigan decided the race for the 1986 Rose Bowl. The Wolverines defeated Iowa 20-17. Minnesota was regarded as an easy victory as a 25-point underdog to number two ranked Michigan.Neff, Craig - Bo Tries On A Tie, Gets A Boot. Sports Illustrated, November 24, 1986] The Gophers had not defeated the Wolverines since 1977. With two minutes to go, and Michigan just having scored a touchdown to bring the Wolverines at 16 to the Gophers 17, Bo Schembechler called for the extra point to be kicked for the tie. Minnesota quarterback Rickey Foggie scrambled to put Chip Lohmiller in position to get the winning field goal. The Gophers took home the Little Brown Jug from Michigan for the first time since 1962. The Wolverines fell to #6 and then faced arch rival Ohio State for the right to play in the Rose Bowl. Jim Harbaugh guaranteed a Michigan Victory over Ohio State. "We don't care where we play the game," said the senior quarterback early in the week. "I hate to say it, but we could play it in the parking lot. We could play the game at 12 noon or midnight. We're going to be jacked up."Hersch, Hank - Short On Style, But Plenty Long On Substance. Sports Illustrated, December 1, 1986] The Wolverines won 26-24.

Notable Rivalry Games

*LSU 37, Tulane 17
*Michigan 27, Notre Dame 26
*Notre Dame 38, USC 37
*Oklahoma 20, Nebraska 17
*UCLA 45, USC 25 (UCLA-USC rivalry)

Conference Standings

"W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, Conf. = Conference Record"


#1 and #2 Progress

Bowl Games

With Arizona State having clinched the Rose Bowl berth on November 8th, and the Fiesta Bowl and Citrus Bowl scrambling to bid for the #1 Miami (Florida) vs. #2 Penn State Game, the Cotton Bowl game struck an agreement to take the loser of the the Michigan-Ohio State game. All the bowl games attempted to line up participants before the official bids were extended on November 22. The Sugar Bowl agreed to take the loser of the Oklahoma-Nebraska game to match the SEC winner, and the Orange Bowl agreed to take the second place SWC team to match the Big 8 winner. The Citrus Bowl, which moved to January 1, got a second place SEC team in Auburn, and, what they hoped would be a good matchup, in 7-2 USC. The Trojans would lose to UCLA and Notre Dame after they were invited.

*Rose Bowl: #7 Arizona State 22, #4 Michigan 15 (1987 Rose Bowl)
*Sugar Bowl: #6 Nebraska 30, #5 LSU 15 (1987 Sugar Bowl)
*Cotton Bowl: #11 Ohio State 28, #8 Texas A&M 12
*Fiesta Bowl: #2 Penn State 14, #1 Miami (Fl) 10 (1987 Fiesta Bowl)
*Florida Citrus Bowl: #10 Auburn 16, USC 7
*Orange Bowl: #3 Oklahoma 42, #9 Arkansas 8 (1987 Orange Bowl)
*Hall of Fame Bowl: Boston College 27, #17 Georgia 24
*Gator Bowl: #21 Clemson 27, #20 Stanford 21
*John Hancock Bowl: #13 Alabama 28, #12 Washington 6
*Holiday Bowl: #19 Iowa 39, San Diego State 38
*Freedom Bowl: #15 UCLA 31, BYU 10
*Peach Bowl: Virginia Tech 25, #18 NC State 24
*All-American Bowl: Florida State 27, Indiana 13
*Liberty Bowl: Tennessee 21, Minnesota 14
*Aloha Bowl: #16 Arizona 30, North Carolina 21
*Independence Bowl: Mississippi 20, Texas Tech 17
*California Bowl: San Jose State 37, Miami (Ohio) 7

Final AP Poll

#Penn State
#Miami, FL
#Oklahoma (Big 8 Champion)
#Arizona State (Pac 10 Champion)
#Nebraska
#Auburn
#Ohio State
#Michigan (Big 10 Champion)
#Alabama
#LSU (SEC Champion)
#Arizona
#Baylor
#Texas A&M (SWC Champion)
#UCLA
#Arkansas
#Iowa
#Clemson (ACC Champion)
#Washington
#Boston College
#Virginia Tech

Final Coaches Poll

# Penn St.
# Miami (FL)
# Oklahoma
# Nebraska
# Arizona St.
# Ohio St.
# Michigan
# Auburn (AL)
# Alabama
# Arizona
# Louisiana St.
# Texas A&M
# Baylor (TX)
# UCLA
# Iowa
# Arkansas
# Washington
# Boston College (MA)
# Clemson (SC)
# Florida St.

Heisman Trophy

#Winner: Vinny Testaverde, Miami (Fl), Sr. QB
#Paul Palmer, Temple, Sr. TB
#Jim Harbaugh, Michigan, Sr. QB
#Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma, Sr. LB
#Gordie Lockbaum, Holy Cross, Jr. TB

Other Major Awards

*Maxwell (Player):Vinny Testaverde, Miami (Fl)
*Camp (Back): Vinny Testaverde, Miami (Fl)
*O'Brein Award (QB): Vinny Testaverde, Miami (Fl)
*Rockne (Lineman): N/A
*Lombardi (Linebacker): Cornelius Bennett, Alabama
*Outland (Interior): Jason Buck, BYU
*Coach of the Year: Joe Paterno, Penn St.

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