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1970 College Football Recap

Jim Plunkett

Before Bob Devaney arrived in 1962, Nebraska had been among the Top 10 teams of the final AP poll exactly twice: No.9 in 1936 and No.7 in 1940. Devaney’s Cornhuskers made it to No.6 in 1963, No.5 two years later, then all the way to No.1 in 1970. Along the way, Nebraska replaced Oklahoma as the Big Deal in the Big Eight by winning six conference titles in nine years. In 1970, the Huskers were tied 21–21 bySouthern Cal in their second game then won 10 straight. At the end of the regular season AP ranked them third behind Texas (10–0) and Ohio State( 9–0). UPI, still taking its final vote before the bowl games, named the Longhorns as national champs. On New Year’s Day both Texas and Ohio State lost, giving Nebraska a chance to take it all with a win over LSU in the Orange Bowl. The Huskers posted an early 10–0 lead, lost it in the third quarter, but came back to win in the fourth, 17–12. Earlier in the day, Texas put its 30–game winning streak on the line against No.6 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. The Irish, who lost by four points to the Longhorns in last year’s Cotton showdown, won this time by 13. In the Rose Bowl, Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett quarterbacked Stanford past Ohio State with two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.

1970 College Football Polls


1971 College Football Recap

In 1971, Nebraska became only the sixth team since ’36 to repeat as national champions. A year ago, the Huskers were lucky to claim their first title after the two teams ranked above them lost their bowl games. This time Bob Devaney’s defenders were No.1 from the start and obliged to repel all comers, all 13 of them. The pivotal games were two No.1 vs No.2 holiday showdowns with Oklahoma (10–0) on Thanksgiving and Alabama (11–0) on New Year’s. With the Big Eight title at stake against the Sooners, Nebraska led early, fell behind late 31–28, then rallied to win 35–31. In the Orange Bowl, Bama fumbled early and often and the Huskers won easily, extending their three-year unbeaten string to 32. Oklahoma routed Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and Colorado beat Houston by 12 in the Bluebonnet to give the Big Eight a unique Win, Place & Show in the final AP poll. The SEC had the next best conference showing with Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee coming in 4th, 7th and 9th, respectively. Michigan went to the Rose Bowl unbeaten and untied after shading Ohio State 10–7. In Pasadena, however, the Wolverines fell to Stanford on a last second field goal. The Heisman Trophy was decided in another close contest. Cornell running back Ed Marinaro, who averaged an NCAA record 174.6 yards a game during his career, lost out to Auburn QB Pat Sullivan by 152 points.

1971 College Football Polls


1972 College Football Recap

Nebraska’s hopes for a third straight national championship received a jolt in the very first game. Opening the season on the road, the Huskers had their 32–game unbeaten streak snapped by UCLA, 20–17. But it was the other Los Angeles team—Southern Cal—that succeeded Nebraska as No.1 in the final poll. The Trojans were the only major squad to make it through the regular season without a loss. Only two-time Rose Bowl champ Stanford came within 10 points of USC and that margin was nine (30–21). USC ended the season with a flourish, blowing Notre Dame out of the Coliseum (45–23) and Ohio State out of the Rose Bowl (42–17). Tailback Anthony Davis scored six touchdowns against the Irish (two kickoff returns went 97 and 96 yards), and fullback Sam Cunningham scored four times against the Buckeyes. Oklahoma lost to Colorado but beat everyone else including Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. When the season was over the Sooners were placed on two-years probation by the NCAA for using an ineligible player in three games. Texas was blanked by Oklahoma early in the season but finished at 10–1, beating Alabama in the Cotton Bowl to place third. Finally, Nebraska flanker Johnny Rodgers (5–ft 9) won the Heisman, Louisville running back Howard Stevens (5–ft 6) led the nation in all purpose running, and freshman became eligible.

1972 College Football Polls

1973 College Football Recap

A year ago, Notre Dame gave up 85 points in the last two games of the season. In 1973, it took 11 games for the new and improved Irish to yield 89 points and they won the national championship. Ranked third at the close of the regular season, Notre Dame faced No.1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve. In a battle that saw the lead change hands six times, the Irish came from behind to win 24–23 on a late field goal. Notre Dame and Alabama were two of seven undefeated teams at the end of the regular season. Ohio State, Miami-OH, Michigan, Oklahoma and Penn State were the others. Ohio State and Michigan were each 10–0 when they met in Ann Arbor to decide the Big Ten championship. The Buckeyes led at halftime, but the Wolverines rallied to tie. The conference chose OSU for the Rose Bowl and the Bucks justified their appointment by scoring 28 points in the second half to rout USC, 42–21. Oklahoma (Barry Switzer) and Nebraska (Tom Osborne) had new coaches in 1973. They met for the first time in Norman and Switzer won, 27–0. The Sooners finished the regular season at 10–0–1, didn’t play a bowl game (probation) and ranked 3rd. Nebraska(8–2–1) went to the Cotton Bowl, beat Texas and ranked 7th. Penn State was 12–0 overall and beat LSU in the Orange Bowl, but the Lions only made it to No.5 behind Alabama. One consolation was that senior John Cappelletti became the first Eastern back in 10 years to win the Heisman.

1973 College Football Polls


1974 College Football Recap

After three seasons at either No.2 or No.3,Oklahoma broke through in 1974 to win its first national title in 18 years. The Sooners rolled through their 11–game schedule averaging 508 yards in total offense and a final score of 43–8. Only Texas gave them a fight before losing 16–13. Actually, UPI gave Oklahoma a fight, too. At the beginning of the season the UPI coaches board decreed that any team on NCAA probation (as Oklahoma was) was not worthy of their consideration. AP’s writers went for the Sooners but UPI’s coaches, voting after the bowl games for the first time, selected AP runner-up Southern Cal. USC finished up at 10–1–1 with impressive wins over Notre Dame and Ohio State. Trailing the Irish 24–0 at the half, the Trojans came storming back behind Anthony Davis (4 TDs) to score 55 points in 17 minutes and win 55–24. In the Rose Bowl, quarterback Pat Haden passed for a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the last two minutes to beat the Buckeyes, 18–17. Hard luck continued to stalk Michigan and Alabama. The Wolverines lost 12–10 to arch-rival Ohio State and missed out on another trip to the Rose Bowl despite another regular season with 10 wins. And the Crimson Tide failed to win a bowl game for the eighth straight year, losing 13–11 to Notre Dame and retiring coach Ara Parseghian in the Orange Bowl.

1974 College Football Polls


1975 College Football Recap

Off probation, defending national champion Oklahoma was embraced by UPI as well as AP in 1975. Unbeaten in 30 games under Switzer and winners of 28 in a row, the Sooners were stopped cold by Kansas, 23–3, in early November. They had to rally the next weekend to beat Missouri 28–27, but then routed Nebraska 35–10 to reach the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma’s date with Michigan New Year’s Night became a game for the championship when No.1 Ohio State gave up three second half touchdowns and lost the Rose Bowl to UCLA. The Sooners seized their opportunity and beat Michigan 14–6 to keep their title. Arizona State, the Top 20’s only undefeated team, edged Nebraska, 17–14, in the Fiesta Bowl to place second. The margin of victory was a 27–yard field goal by the coach’s son, Dan Kush. Alabama came on to finish third, finally winning a bowl for Bear Bryant after going 0–7–1 in the postseason since New Year’s Day, 1968. The Tide beat Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. Ohio State may have lost the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row, but running back Archie Griffin became the first player to win two Heisman Trophies. In the Buckeye backfield since his freshman year, Griffin ended his career with 5,177 yards rushing and 33 games with 100 yards or more, both NCAA records. During the Griffin Era, OSU went 40–5–1, won four Big Ten titles and played in four Rose Bowls.

1975 College Football Polls

1976 College Football Recap

Tony Dorsett

In the 40–odd years of the Heisman Trophy, the AFCA Coach of the Year award and the AP Top 20, no one team had won all three in the same season until Pittsburgh did it in 1976. Led by record-breaking running back Tony Dorsett and coach Johnny Majors, Pitt was 11–0 during the regular season and a 27–3 victor over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. It was the Panthers’ first major bowl appearance since 1955, their first national championship since 1937, and their first unbeaten and untied season since 1917. Dorsett had a remarkable season, rushing for 1,948 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns. He ended his four years with 6,082 yards and 356 points, both NCAA records. Coach Majors also worked some magic over four years, inheriting a program that had gone 1–10 in 1972 and guiding it to a 33–13–1 record. Michigan’s spirit was tested in ’76. A solid No.1 choice in the polls through October, the Wolverines were upset 16–14 by Purdue in early November. They recovered to beat Ohio State for the Big Ten championship, went back to the Rose Bowl for the first time in five years, then lost to Southern Cal, 14–6. In the Southwest Conference, Houston won a trip to the Cotton Bowl in its first year as a league member. The Cougars tied for the title with Texas Tech, but had beaten the Red Raiders during the season. On New Year’s Day, Houston was in Dallas to complete its improbable year in with a 30–21 victory over unbeaten Maryland.

1976 College Football Polls


1977 College Football Recap

For the third time in nine years, Notre Dame opened the new calendar year in the Cotton Bowl against a No.1 team from Texas. The first time, on Jan.1, 1970, the Longhorns won 21–17 and clinched the national championship. A year later, the Irish returned to deny Texas a second straight title, winning 24–11. This time around on Jan.2, 1978, No.5 Notre Dame jumped out to a 24–10 lead in the first half and won easily 38–10. When the dust settled, the two teams had traded placeds and the Irish were national champs for the seventh time in the 42 years of the AP poll. Notre Dame was able to leapfrog the other three teams in front of it when the following happened on New Year’s Day: No.2 Oklahoma lost the Orange Bowl to Arkansas, No.3 Alabama won the Sugar Bowl but against a lower ranked team (Ohio State), and No.4 Michigan lost the Rose Bowl (again). Two bold coaching moves also marked the season. Dan Devine of Notre Dame decided to put green jerseys on his team when Southern Cal came to South Bendon Oct.22. The switch worked as the Irish beat USC for the first time in four years. Lou Holtz of Arkansas made his move right before the Orange Bowl when he suspeneded three key players then went out and beat Oklahoma anyway, 31–6. Finally, Texas running back Earl Campbell won the Heisman, marking the trophy’s return to the SWC after a 20–year absence.

1977 College Football Polls


1978 College Football Recap

Thirteen years removed from its last national championship, Alabama climbed back to the top of the final AP poll in 1978. No.1 played No.2 for only the third time in the 1970s when the Crimson Tide upset top-ranked Penn State, 14–7, in the Sugar Bowl. However, UPI’s coaches disagreed with AP’s writers and picked Southern Cal as the best team, citing USC’s 24–14 victory over Bama during the regular season. Both teams had one defeat, the Trojans losing early in the year to new Pac-10 member Arizona State. Oklahoma got the third place nod from both wire services. In the annual “brawl for it all” in the Big Eight, OU lost to Nebraska 17–14, giving Husker coach Tom Osborne his first win over Barry Switzer. The next week, however, Nebraska lost to Missouri while the Sooners were clobbering Oklahoma State. A Sooner-Husker rematch was called for and arranged in the Orange Bowl where the Switzers beat the Osbornes, 31–24. Defending champion Notre Dame dropped its first two games of the season to Missouri and Michigan, won eight straight, then lost to Southern Cal 27–25 on a last second field goal. The Irish rebounded in an icy Cotton Bowl game, however, and scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to catch Houston, 35–34. In the Big Ten, Michigan beat Ohio State and lost the Rose Bowl for the third year in a row, while Buckeye coach Woody Hayes was forced to retire after hitting a Clemson player in the Gator Bowl. Hayes walked away with 238 career wins and two national titles.

1978 College Football Polls


1979 College Football Recap

Alabama successfully defended its national championship in 1979, the seventh time that’s been done in the 44 years of the AP poll. But Bama, Southern Cal and Oklahoma ranking 1–2–3 for the second year in a row was a first. Except for a troublesome 3–0 squeaker against LSU, Alabama faced little resistance in piling up 11 regular season wins and a third straight SEC title. The Tide met SWC co-champ Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl and won 24–9. Earle Bruce succeeded Woody Hayes at Ohio State and brought the Buckeyes through the regular season undefeated and untied. After beating Michigan for the first time in four years, the Bucks lost to Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, 17–16. The defeat was the 10th in 11 years for the Big Two (OSU andMichigan) inPasadena. USC’s Rose Bowl victory was the third in four years for coach John Robinson, who replaced John McKay in 1976. The Trojans also won the Heisman Trophy, their first since O.J. Simpson, when running back Charles White outpolled the incumbent, Billy Sims of Oklahoma. Houston won a piece of its third SWC title since joining the conference in 1976. The Cougars then beat Nebraska 17–14 for its second Cotton Bowl victory. Bowl game of the Year? Unbeaten BYU lost toIndiana, 38–37, as the lead changed hands eight times in the Holiday Bowl.

1979 College Football Polls