The 1994 NCAA Division I-A football season saw yet another controversial finish as both Nebraska and Penn State finished undefeated, and yet Penn State finished a distant second in the final AP and UPI polls. The controversial finish, however, could have been an even worse morass if not for some end of season results. Late in the season, there were two other undefeated teams: Alabama and Auburn. The Auburn Tigers, who had gone undefeated the year before but was barred from post-season play, were 9-0 before tying Georgia and losing to Alabama in the Iron Bowl. The Alabama Crimson Tide finished the regular season undefeated at 11-0, but lost a heartbreaker 24-23 on a fourth quarter touchdown pass against Florida in the 1994 SEC Championship Game.
The National Championship was Tom Osborne's first at Nebraska.
Ten years after Doug Flutie's Hail Mary passagainst Miami, history would repeat itself as Kordell Stewart of Colorado threw a last second, 64-yard Hail Mary to defeat #4 Michigan in the Big House and is called The Miracle at Michigan. A moral defeat was also handed to Penn State as the already defeated Hoosiers, who had been drubbed 35-14 until Joe Paterno took mercy on them and removed his starters from the game, scored 15 meaningless points--including a Hail Mary TD pass on the final play--to finish with a misleading 35-29 score. Voters promptly demoted Penn State from #1 in a poll and elevated Nebraska to that spot, a result that the Nittany Lions were never able to overcome (not least because, under the Rose Bowl/Orange Bowl selection rules of the time, Penn State could only play in the former contest and Nebraska only in the latter one).
Another notable game was Florida vs. Florida State. Florida led 31-3 at the start of the fourth quarter, but Florida State scored 28 points and held Florida scoreless in the fourth quarter to tie the game 31-31.
Feb 25th, months before the season began, would be an infamous day in the history of the Southwest Conference. An all-Texas conference could only capture a small portion of the national TV market, and with Arkansas's flight to the SEC, other schools began to make plans for associating themselves with other conferences. Texas and Colorado were rumored to be joining the Pac-10, Texas A&M were thought to be joining the SEC. Ultimately, on February 25, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Baylor announced they were going to leave the Southwest Conference for the newly formed Big 12 Conference. The Southwest Conference would still continue to play for two more years, as the remaining members looked for new homes.
Although Nebraska, Penn State and Alabama were still ranked in the Top 10, many of college football's legendary teams finished the regular season with their lowest rankings in years. The Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked 13th, Michigan was 20th and the USC Trojans 21st, and Notre Dame, Texas and Oklahoma were unranked.
The Bowl Coalition did not include the Big 10 and Pacific 10 conferences, whose champions played in the Rose Bowl. Penn State, which was ranked #1 in the Oct 18 and Oct 25 polls, and #2 for the remainder of the season, finished the regular season 11-0-0 and played in the Rose Bowl as the champion of the Big Ten.