1988 NCAA Division I-A football season

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1988 NCAA Division I-A season
Number of teams 104
Preseason AP #1 Florida State Seminoles[1]
Post-season
Bowl games 17
Heisman Trophy Barry Sanders Oklahoma State RB
Winner Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Division I-A football seasons
← 1987
1989 →

UCLA's Bruins, featuring stellar quarterback Troy Aikman, had attained the #1 ranking for weeks 7 and 8 after demolishing then #2 Nebraska 41-28, before sustaining a huge upset loss to unheralded Washington State 34-30 in week 9, opening the door for Notre Dame. The 1988 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Notre Dame winning the national championship. The Fighting Irish won the title via a 34-21 defeat of previously unbeaten West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.

Notre Dame had several notable victories this season, including a 19–17 victory over #9 Michigan, won on a last drive field goal, which started off the championship season. The season's marquee game was a 31–30 victory over #1 Miami. Entering the game, Miami had a 36 game regular season winning streak, 20 straight road victories and a 16-game winning streak overall. This year was also the first time Notre Dame and USC had ever met when ranked #1 and #2. Most notable about this game is Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz's decision to leave behind two of his stars, Tony Brooks and Ricky Watters because they were late, cementing discipline as the main theme of this championship team.

This year's edition of the UCLA-USC rivalry game featured a second ranked USC and a fourth ranked UCLA. For the second year in a row the Rose Bowl berth was on the line but for USC it also had national title implications as the rivalry game with Notre Dame was the following week. USC beat UCLA but lost to Notre Dame, and then lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders ran the Wing T offense all the way to the Heisman Trophy and numerous rushing records.

Rule Changes[edit]

  • Defensive teams can now return blocked PAT kicks and interceptions on two-point conversion attempts for a defensive score worth two points. Fumbles on PAT/two point conversions cannot be recovered and advanced by the offensive team other than the fumbling player, and the defense cannot convert fumbles into two point defensive scores.
  • Teams are permitted to take consecutive time-outs, previously this was prohibited.
  • Illegal use of hands penalties are increased from 5 to 10 yards.

Conference standings[edit]

1988 ACC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#9 Clemson 6 1 0     10 2 0
Virginia 5 2 0     7 4 0
NC State 4 2 1     8 3 1
Wake Forest 4 3 0     6 4 1
Maryland 4 3 0     5 6 0
Duke 3 3 1     7 3 1
North Carolina 1 6 0     1 10 0
Georgia Tech 0 7 0     3 8 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1988 Big 8 football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#10 Nebraska 7 0 0     11 2 0
#14 Oklahoma 6 1 0     9 3 0
#11 Oklahoma State 5 2 0     10 2 0
Colorado 4 3 0     8 4 0
Iowa State 3 4 0     5 6 0
Missouri 2 5 0     3 7 1
Kansas 1 6 0     1 10 0
Kansas State 0 7 0     0 11 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1988 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#4/4 Michigan 7 0 1     9 2 1
Michigan State 6 1 1     6 5 1
Illinois 5 2 1     6 5 1
Iowa 4 1 3     6 4 3
#20/19 Indiana 5 3 0     8 3 1
Purdue 3 5 0     4 7 0
Ohio State 2 5 1     4 6 1
Northwestern 2 5 1     2 8 1
Wisconsin 1 7 0     1 10 0
Minnesota 0 6 2     2 7 2
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches' Poll
1988 Big West Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Fresno State 7 0 0     10 2 0
Cal State Fullerton 5 2 0     5 6 0
Utah State 4 3 0     4 7 0
San Jose State 4 3 0     4 8 0
UNLV 3 4 0     4 7 0
Long Beach State 3 4 0     4 9 0
Pacific 2 5 0     2 9 0
New Mexico State 0 7 0     1 10 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1988 Mid-American football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Western Michigan 7 1 0     9 3 0
Eastern Michigan 5 2 1     6 3 1
Ball State 5 3 0     8 3 0
Central Michigan 5 3 0     7 4 0
Ohio 4 3 1     4 6 1
Toledo 4 4 0     6 5 0
Kent State 3 5 0     5 6 0
Bowling Green 1 6 1     2 8 1
Miami 0 7 1     0 10 1
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1988 Pacific-10 football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#7 USC 8 0 0     10 2 0
#6 UCLA 6 2 0     10 2 0
#16 Washington State 5 3 0     9 3 0
Arizona 5 3 0     7 4 0
Arizona State 3 4 0     6 5 0
Washington 3 5 0     6 5 0
Oregon 3 5 0     6 6 0
Oregon State 2 5 1     4 6 1
Stanford 1 5 2     3 6 2
California 1 5 1     5 5 1
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1988 SEC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#8 Auburn § 6 1 0     10 2 0
#19 LSU § 6 1 0     8 4 0
#15 Georgia 5 2 0     9 3 0
#17 Alabama 4 3 0     9 3 0
Florida 4 3 0     7 5 0
Tennessee 3 4 0     5 6 0
Ole Miss 3 4 0     5 6 0
Kentucky 2 5 0     5 6 0
Vanderbilt 2 5 0     3 8 0
Mississippi State 0 7 0     1 10 0
§ – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1988 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Arkansas 8 0 0     10 2 0
Texas A&M* 6 1 0     7 5 0
Houston 5 2 0     9 3 0
Texas Tech 4 3 0     5 6 0
Baylor 2 5 0     6 5 0
Texas 2 5 0     4 7 0
TCU 2 5 0     4 7 0
Rice 0 8 0     0 11 0
† – Conference champion
  • *- Ineligible for conference championship and postseason bowl games due to NCAA sanctions.
    Rankings from AP Poll
1988 Division I-A independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#1 Notre Dame           12 0 0
#2 Miami (FL)           11 1 0
#3 Florida State           11 1 0
#5 West Virginia           11 1 0
Southern Miss           10 2 0
#13 Syracuse           10 2 0
Army           9 3 0
Louisville           8 3 0
South Carolina           8 4 0
Northern Illinois           7 4 0
Pittsburgh           6 5 0
Memphis           6 5 0
Rutgers           6 5 0
Southwest Louisiana           6 5 0
Akron           5 6 0
Penn State           5 6 0
Tulane           5 6 0
Temple           4 7 0
Tulsa           4 7 0
Boston College           3 8 0
Cincinnati           3 8 0
East Carolina           3 8 0
Navy           3 8 0
Virginia Tech           3 8 0
Rankings from AP Poll
1988 WAC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Wyoming 8 0 0     11 2 0
UTEP 6 2 0     10 3 0
Hawaii 5 3 0     9 3 0
BYU 5 3 0     9 4 0
Utah 4 4 0     6 5 0
Air Force 3 5 0     5 7 0
San Diego State 3 5 0     3 8 0
New Mexico 1 7 0     2 10 0
Colorado State 1 7 0     1 10 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

Season summary[edit]

#1 and #2 progress[edit]

WEEKS #1 #2 Event
PRE Florida State Nebraska Miami 31, Florida St. 0 Sep 3
1 Miami Nebraska UCLA 41, Nebraska 28 Sep 10
2-6 Miami UCLA Notre Dame 31, Miami 30 Oct 15
7-8 UCLA Notre Dame Washington St. 34, UCLA 30 Oct 29
9-12 Notre Dame USC Notre Dame 27, USC 10 Nov 26
13-14 Notre Dame Miami Notre Dame 34, West Virginia 21 Jan 1

Bowl games[edit]

Polls[edit]

Final AP Poll[edit]

  1. Notre Dame
  2. Miami (FL)
  3. Florida State
  4. Michigan
  5. West Virginia
  6. UCLA
  7. Southern California
  8. Auburn
  9. Clemson
  10. Nebraska
  11. Oklahoma State
  12. Arkansas
  13. Syracuse
  14. Oklahoma
  15. Georgia
  16. Washington State
  17. Alabama
  18. Houston
  19. LSU
  20. Indiana

Final Coaches Poll[edit]

  1. Notre Dame
  2. Miami (FL)
  3. Florida State
  4. Michigan
  5. West Virginia
  6. UCLA
  7. Auburn
  8. Clemson
  9. Southern California
  10. Nebraska
  11. Oklahoma State
  12. Syracuse
  13. Arkansas
  14. Oklahoma
  15. Georgia
  16. Washington State
  17. Alabama
  18. North Carolina State
  19. Indiana
  20. Wyoming

Awards[edit]

Heisman Trophy[edit]

  1. Winner: Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, Jr. RB
  2. Rodney Peete, Southern California, Sr. QB
  3. Troy Aikman, UCLA, Sr. QB
  4. Steve Walsh, Miami (FL), Jr. QB
  5. Major Harris, West Virginia, So. QB

Other major awards[edit]

  • Maxwell (Player): Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State
  • Camp (Back): Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State
  • Davey O'Brien Award (QB): Troy Aikman, UCLA
  • Rockne (Lineman): N/A
  • Lombardi (Linebacker): Tracy Rocker, Auburn
  • Outland (Interior): Tracy Rocker, Auburn
  • Coach of the Year: Don Nehlen, West Virginia

Notes[edit]

References[edit]