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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.

Conference standingsEdit

1986 ACC football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#17 Clemson 5 1 1     8 2 2
NC State 5 2 0     8 3 1
North Carolina 5 2 0     7 4 1
Georgia Tech 3 3 0     5 5 1
Maryland 2 3 1     5 5 1
Wake Forest 2 5 0     5 6 0
Duke 2 5 0     4 7 0
Virginia 2 5 0     3 8 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1986 Big 8 football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#3 Oklahoma 7 0 0     11 1 0
Colorado 6 1 0     6 6 0
#5 Nebraska 5 2 0     10 2 0
Oklahoma State 4 3 0     6 5 0
Iowa State 3 4 0     6 5 0
Missouri 2 5 0     3 8 0
Kansas State 1 6 0     2 9 0
Kansas 0 7 0     3 8 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1986 Big Ten football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#8/7 Michigan § 7 1 0     11 2 0
#7/6 Ohio State § 7 1 0     10 3 0
#16/15 Iowa 5 3 0     9 3 0
Minnesota 5 3 0     6 6 0
Michigan State 4 4 0     6 5 0
Indiana 3 5 0     6 6 0
Illinois 3 5 0     4 7 0
Northwestern 2 6 0     4 7 0
Purdue 2 6 0     3 8 0
Wisconsin 2 6 0     3 9 0
§ – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches' Poll
1986 Mid-American Conference football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Miami 6 2 0     8 4 0
Toledo 5 3 0     7 4 0
Bowling Green 5 3 0     5 6 0
Kent State 5 3 0     5 6 0
Ball State 4 4 0     6 5 0
[[{{{school}}}|Eastern Michigan]] 4 4 0     6 5 0
Central Michigan 4 4 0     5 5 0
Western Michigan 3 5 0     3 8 0
Ohio 0 8 1     1 10 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1986 Pacific-10 football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#4 Arizona State 5 1 1     10 1 1
#14 UCLA 5 2 1     8 3 1
#18 Washington 5 2 1     8 3 1
#11 Arizona 5 3 0     9 3 0
Stanford 5 3 0     8 4 0
USC 5 3 0     7 5 0
Oregon 3 5 0     5 6 0
Washington State 2 6 1     3 7 1
California 2 7 0     2 9 0
Oregon State 1 6 0     3 8 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1986 Pacific Coast Athletic Association football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
San Jose State 7 0 0     10 2 0
Fresno State 6 1 0     9 2 0
Long Beach State 4 3 0     6 5 0
UNLV 3 4 0     6 5 0
Utah State 3 4 0     3 8 0
Pacific 2 5 0     4 7 0
Cal State Fullerton 2 5 0     3 9 0
New Mexico State 1 6 0     1 10 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1986 SEC football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#10/11 LSU 5 1 0     9 3 0
#6/8 Auburn 4 2 0     10 2 0
#9/9 Alabama 4 2 0     10 3 0
Georgia 4 2 0     8 4 0
Ole Miss 4 2 0     8 3 1
Tennessee 3 3 0     7 5 0
Florida 2 4 0     6 5 0
Mississippi State 2 4 0     6 5 0
Kentucky 2 4 0     5 5 1
Vanderbilt 0 6 0     1 10 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches Poll
1986 Southwest Conference football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#13 Texas A&M 7 1 0     9 3 0
#15 Arkansas 6 2 0     9 3 0
#12 Baylor 6 2 0     9 3 0
Texas Tech 5 3 0     7 5 0
SMU 5 3 0     6 5 0
Texas 4 4 0     5 6 0
Rice 2 6 0     4 7 0
TCU 1 7 0     3 8 0
Houston 0 8 0     1 10 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1986 Division I-A independents football records
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 1 Penn State           12 0 0
No. 2 Miami (FL)           11 1 0
No. 20 Virginia Tech           9 2 1
No. 19 Boston College           9 3 0
Tulsa           7 4 0
Florida State           7 4 1
Army           6 5 0
Southwestern Louisiana           6 5 0
Southern Miss           6 5 0
Temple           6 5 0
Pittsburgh           5 5 1
Rutgers           5 5 1
Cincinnati           5 6 0
Notre Dame           5 6 0
Syracuse           5 6 0
South Carolina           3 6 2
Tulane           4 7 0
West Virginia           4 7 0
Louisville           3 8 0
Navy           3 8 0
Wichita State           3 8 0
East Carolina           2 9 0
Northern Illinois           2 9 0
Memphis           1 10 0
Rankings from AP Poll
1986 WAC football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
San Diego State 7 1 0     8 4 0
BYU 6 2 0     8 5 0
Air Force 5 2 0     6 5 0
Hawaii 4 4 0     7 5 0
Colorado State 4 4 0     6 5 0
Wyoming 4 4 0     6 6 0
New Mexico 2 5 0     4 8 0
UTEP 2 6 0     4 8 0
Utah 1 7 0     2 9 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

Key matchups and upsetsEdit

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.[3] 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.[4] 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 State[5] 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-10 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 4.[5] The win over Cal, combined with the UCLA loss to Stanford, enabled the Sun Devils to clinch the Rose Bowl Berth on November 8.[5] 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 2 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.[6] 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.[6] 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."[7] The Wolverines won 26–24.

#1 and #2 ProgressEdit

WEEKS #1 #2 Event
PRE Oklahoma Michigan Miami 23, Florida 15 Sep 6
1-3 Oklahoma Miami Miami 28, Oklahoma 16 Sep 27
4-7 Miami Alabama Penn State 23, Alabama 3 Oct 25
8-9 Miami Penn State Penn State 17, Maryland 15 Nov 8
10 Miami Michigan Minnesota 20, Michigan 17 Nov 15
11-13 Miami Penn State Penn State 14, Miami 10 Jan 2

Notable rivalry gamesEdit

Bowl gamesEdit

With Arizona State having clinched the Rose Bowl berth on November 8, and the Fiesta Bowl and Citrus Bowl scrambling to bid for the #1 Miami (Florida) vs. #2 Penn State Game, the Cotton Bowl Classic struck an agreement to take the loser of the Michigan-Ohio State game.[7] 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.

PollsEdit

Final AP PollEdit

  1. Penn State
  2. Miami (FL)
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Arizona State
  5. Nebraska
  6. Auburn
  7. Ohio State
  8. Michigan
  9. Alabama
  10. LSU
  11. Arizona
  12. Baylor
  13. Texas A&M
  14. UCLA
  15. Arkansas
  16. Iowa
  17. Clemson
  18. Washington
  19. Boston College
  20. Virginia Tech

Final Coaches PollEdit

  1. Penn St.
  2. Miami (FL)
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Nebraska
  5. Arizona St.
  6. Ohio St.
  7. Michigan
  8. Auburn
  9. Alabama
  10. Arizona
  11. Louisiana St.
  12. Texas A&M
  13. Baylor
  14. UCLA
  15. Iowa
  16. Arkansas
  17. Washington
  18. Boston College
  19. Clemson
  20. Florida St.

AwardsEdit

Heisman TrophyEdit

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

Other major awardsEdit

  • 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 (Defensive Front Seven): Cornelius Bennett, Alabama
  • Butkus (Linebacker): Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma
  • Outland (Interior): Jason Buck, BYU
  • Coach of the Year: Joe Paterno, Penn St.

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://www.jhowell.net/cf/cf1986.htm
  2. http://www.appollarchive.com/football/ap/seasons.cfm?appollid=606
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Reilly, Rick - Coming Out Of The Desert Darkness With The Sun Devils. Sports Illustrated, November 17, 1986
  6. 6.0 6.1 Neff, Craig - Bo Tries On A Tie, Gets A Boot. Sports Illustrated, November 24, 1986
  7. 7.0 7.1 Hersch, Hank - Short On Style, But Plenty Long On Substance. Sports Illustrated, December 1, 1986

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