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1978 NCAA Division I-A football season: Wikis

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The 1978 NCAA Division I-A football season was the first season of Division I-A football; Division I-A was created in 1978 from the splitting of Division I for football only. The season came down to a rare #1 vs. #2 post-season meeting as #1 Penn State and #2 Alabama met in the New Year's Day Sugar Bowl. The game is most remembered for Alabama's goal line stand with four minutes left in the game. On fourth down and a foot, Alabama managed to keep Penn State out of the end zone and went on to win 14-7. Keith Jackson, who did the play by play for ABC, called it the greatest game he'd ever seen. 76,824 people packed the Louisiana Superdome, which was tremendously loud.

Alabama's only loss that year was 24-14 in Birmingham to Southern California, who were selected the national champions by UPI. Both schools claim this year as a national title year. Alabama claims the national title because it defeated top-ranked Penn State. USC claims the title because it lost once as well, and defeated Alabama in the regular season. The was the first year of the Pacific-10 Conference, as the Pac 8 added Arizona schools the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

Contents

Rules changes for 1978

  • Unsuccessful field goals are returned to the previous line of scrimmage. Previously they were placed at the 20-yard line.
  • Balls may not be altered and new or nearly new balls are to be used.

Conference standings

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

Conference Champion
Atlantic Coast Conference
Team W L T Conf.
Clemson Tigers 11 1 0 6-0
Maryland Terrapins 9 3 0 5-1
NC State Wolfpack 9 3 0 4-2
North Carolina Tar Heels 5 6 0 3-3
Duke Blue Devils 4 7 0 2-4
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 1 10 0 1-5
Virginia Cavaliers 2 9 0 0-6
Big Ten Conference
Team W L T Conf.
Michigan Wolverines 10 2 0 7-1
Michigan State Spartans 8 3 0 7-1
Purdue Boilermakers 9 2 1 6-1-1
Ohio State Buckeyes 7 4 1 6-2
Minnesota Golden Gophers 5 6 0 4-4
Wisconsin Badgers 5 4 2 3-4-2
Indiana Hoosiers 4 7 0 3-5
Iowa Hawkeyes 2 9 0 2-6
Illinois Fighting Illini 1 8 2 0-6-2
Northwestern Wildcats 0 10 1 0-8-1
Big Eight Conference
Team W L T Conf.
Oklahoma Sooners 11 1 0 6-1
Nebraska Cornhuskers 9 3 0 6-1
Iowa State Cyclones 8 4 0 4-3
Missouri Tigers 8 4 0 4-3
Kansas State Wildcats 4 7 0 3-4
Oklahoma State Cowboys 3 8 0 3-4
Colorado Buffaloes 6 5 0 2-5
Kansas Jayhawks 1 10 0 0-7
Mid-American Conference
Team W L T Conf.
Ball State Cardinals 10 1 0 8-0
Central Michigan Chippewas 9 2 0 8-1
Miami(OH) Redskins 8 2 1 5-2
Western Michigan Broncos 7 4 0 5-4
Bowling Green Falcons 4 7 0 3-5
Ohio Bobcats 3 8 0 3-5
Northern Illinois Huskies 2 4 0 5-6
Kent State Golden Flashes 4 7 0 2-6
Toledo Rockets 2 9 0 2-7
Eastern Michigan Hurons 3 7 0 1-5
Pacific-10 Conference
Team W L T Conf.
USC Trojans — National Champion 12 1 0 6-1
UCLA Bruins 8 3 1 6-2
Washington Huskies 7 4 0 6-2
Arizona State Sun Devils 9 3 0 4-3
Stanford Cardinal 8 4 0 4-3
California Golden Bears 6 5 0 3-4
Arizona Wildcats 5 6 0 3-4
Oregon Ducks 2 9 0 2-5
Oregon State Beavers 3 7 1 2-6
Washington State Cougars 3 7 1 1-7
Southeastern Conference
Team W L T Conf.
Alabama Crimson Tide — National Champion 11 1 0 6-0
Georgia Bulldogs 9 2 1 5-0-1
Auburn Tigers 6 4 1 3-2-1
LSU Tigers 8 4 0 3-3
Tennessee Volunteers 5 6 0 3-3
Florida Gators 4 7 0 3-3
Mississippi State Bulldogs 6 5 0 2-4
Mississippi Rebels 5 6 0 2-4
Kentucky Wildcats 4 7 0 2-4
Vanderbilt Commodores 2 9 0 0-6
Southwest Conference
Team W L T Conf.
Houston Cougars 9 3 0 7-1
Arkansas Razorbacks 9 3 0 6-2
Texas Longhorns 9 3 0 6-2
Texas Tech Red Raiders 7 4 0 5-3
Texas A&M Aggies 8 4 0 4-4
SMU Mustangs 4 7 0 3-5
Baylor Bears 3 8 0 3-5
Rice Owls 2 9 0 2-6
TCU Horned Frogs 2 9 0 0-8
Western Athletic Conference
Team W L T Conf.
Brigham Young Cougars 9 4 0 5-1
Utah Utes 8 3 0 4-2
Wyoming Cowboys 5 6 0 4-2
New Mexico Lobos 7 5 0 3-3
Colorado State Rams 5 6 0 2-4
San Diego State Aztecs 4 7 0 2-4
UTEP Miners 1 10 0 1-5



#1 and #2 Progress

WEEKS #1 #2 Event
PRE-3 Alabama Arkansas USC 24, Alabama 14 (Sept 23)
4 Oklahoma Arkansas USC 30, Michigan St 9 (Sept 29)
5-6 Oklahoma USC Arizona St. 20, USC 7 (Oct 14)
7-10 Oklahoma Penn State Nebraska 17, Oklahoma 14 (Nov 11)
11 Penn State Nebraska Missouri 35, Nebraska 31 (Nov 18)
12-14 Penn State Alabama Alabama 14, Penn State 7 (Jan 1)

Bowls

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Bowl bids

Top ranked Penn State, as an independent, was not tied to any bowl game so the Nittany Lions accepted the Sugar Bowl invitation where they would meet SEC Champion Alabama, who was ranked 2nd in the AP and 3rd in the UPI. Pac-10 champion USC (ranked 3rd in the AP and 2nd in the UPI) faced #5 Michigan in the Rose Bowl in a battle of one loss teams. Nebraksa had upset Oklahoma to earn the Big 8 title and automatic Orange Bowl berth; the Orange Bowl pulled a surprise by inviting the Sooners to play Nebraska in a rematch. Most observers felt Clemson would be invited and Oklahoma would play Houston in the Cotton Bowl Classic. The Cotton Bowl Classic bid went to Notre Dame and Clemson had to settle for the Gator Bowl despite a better record and higher ranking than Notre Dame.

Bowl results

In unusually cold and icy Dallas, Notre Dame overcame a 34-13 deficit to beat Houston 35-34. In New Orleans, Alabama used a 4th quarter goal line stand to upset Penn State 14-7. In Pasadena, USC defeated Michigan 17-10, aided by an official's ruling on a touchdown by Charles White when TV replays clearly showed that he fumbled on the two yard line. In the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma won its rematch with Nebraska, 31-24. One other Bowl of note saw Clemson beat Ohio State in the Gator Bowl - legedary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes was fired after punching Clemson defensive back Charlie Bauman in the face after his game saving interception.

NEW YEARS DAY BOWLS
Cotton Bowl Classic #10 Notre Dame 35 #9 Houston 34
Sugar Bowl #2 Alabama 14 #1 Penn State 7
Rose Bowl #3 USC 17 #5 Michigan 10
Orange Bowl #4 Oklahoma 31 #6 Nebraska 24
OTHER BOWLS
Gator Bowl #7 Clemson 17 #20 Ohio State 15
Fiesta Bowl #8 Arkansas 10 #15 UCLA 10
Bluebonnet Bowl Stanford 25 #11 Georgia 22
Peach Bowl #17 Purdue 41 Georgia Tech 21
Sun Bowl #14 Texas 42 #13 Maryland 0
Tangerine Bowl North Carolina St. 30 #16 Pittsburgh 17
Liberty Bowl #18 Missouri 20 LSU 15
Holiday Bowl Navy 23 Brigham Young 16
Hall of Fame Classic Texas A&M 28 #19 Iowa State 12
Independence Bowl East Carolina 35 Louisiana Tech 13
Garden State Bowl Arizona State 34 Rutgers 18

National champion

In the AP poll, Alabama (11-1-0), on the strength of their Sugar Bowl win over Penn State, was voted #1. In the UPI poll, USC (12-1-0) was voted #1, based in a large part on their easy early season 24-14 win at Alabama over the Crimson Tide.

Final AP and UPI rankings

Rank AP UPI
1. Alabama USC
2. USC Alabama
3. Oklahoma Oklahoma
4. Penn State Penn State
5. Michigan Michigan
6. Clemson Notre Dame
7. Notre Dame Clemson
8. Nebraska Nebraska
9. Texas Texas
10. Houston Arkansas
11. Arkansas Houston
12. Michigan State UCLA
13. Purdue Purdue
14. UCLA Missouri
15. Missouri Georgia
16. Georgia Stanford
17. Stanford Navy
18. N.C. State Texas A&M
19. Texas A&M Arizona State
20. Maryland N.C. State

Heisman Trophy voting

  1. Billy Sims, Oklahoma HB
  2. Chuck Fusina, Penn State QB
  3. Rick Leach, Michigan QB
  4. Charles White, Southern California TB
  5. Charles Alexander, LSU TB

Other major awards

References

  • ESPN college football encyclopedia. ESPN. 2005. pp. 1629 p.. ISBN 1401337031.  

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