1994 NCAA Division I-A football season
|1994 NCAA Division I-A season|
|Total # of teams||107|
|Preseason AP #1||Florida Gators|
|Number of bowls||19|
|National championship||1995 Orange Bowl|
|Location of championship||Miami Orange Bowl,
|NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1994 NCAA Division I-A football season saw yet another controversial finish as both Nebraska and Penn State finished undefeated. 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 Bowl Coalition championship game featured Big Eight Conference champion Nebraska hosting Big East Conference champion Miami in the Orange Bowl, a game that top-ranked Nebraska won in a come-from-behind victory over the 3rd-ranked Hurricanes. However, over at the Rose Bowl, undefeated Penn State defeated Oregon. Oregon came into the Rose Bowl with a 9-3 record and ranked 12th in the AP Poll. After failing to provide a clear national champion for three years in a row, the Coalition would be dismantled in favor of a Bowl Alliance.
The National Championship was Tom Osborne's first at Nebraska, after twice falling agonizingly shy, in 1983 and 1993 championship game losses, both of which were decided on the game's final play.
Ten years after Doug Flutie's Hail Mary pass against 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.
The major poll at the time was the Associated Press (AP) Poll and in that poll, Nebraska is the only team that was ranked in the top five all 16 weeks, from the pre-season poll, through the 14 weekly polls concluding with the final poll. Nebraska received the most votes for number one in ten of those polls and was ranked No.1 in seven of those polls. Penn State appeared in 12 polls and held the top spot in only the weekly poll dated 10/18/94.
The Florida Gators started the 1994 season atop the pre-season AP Poll and remained there all of one more week, but after Nebraska defeated West Virginia 31-0 in the Kick-Off Classic and Florida defeated New Mexico State 70-21, the Huskers took over the top spot. West Virginia had been in the hunt for the Bowl Coalition championship game in 1993 and finished at 11-1. Tommie Frazier vaulted himself into the Heisman conversation in the Kick-off Classic and Nebraska cruised to the easy win.
Nebraska only stayed in that top spot for one week. After the Huskers defeated Texas Tech 42-16 and Florida trounced Kentucky 73-7, the Gators edged Nebraska for number one with 1492 pts to 1483 for Nebraska. Florida and Nebraska remained 1-2 in the AP Poll for five weeks. Penn State moved into the top five for the first time in the 9/20/94 poll at number five, and heading into games on Saturday October 15, Penn State was in third place behind Nebraska.
The Huskers' ranking began to be a bit tenuous when Frazier was sidelined with blood clots after the UCLA win on September 20th. Frazier played only a few downs in the 70-21 drubbing of Pacific, and did not play again during the regular season. Back-up QB Brook Berringer took over as the starter, but during a 42-32 win over Wyoming he was injured, suffering a partially collapsed lung. Berringer started against Oklahoma State the following week, but 3rd string walk-on Matt Turman took over in the second half as NU won 32-3.
Turman was called on to for the one and only start of his career the next week at Kansas State. Running a very conservative game plan, he kept Nebraska in front and Berringer was able to come in the second half of the 17-6 win. That same day, Penn State defeated Michigan 31-24 in a Big Ten battle, a win that elevated the Nittany Lions into the top spot in the AP Poll, 13 points ahead of Colorado. Nebraska was third.
The following week, Penn State was idle. Number 2 Colorado defeated Kansas State 35-21 and Nebraska rolled over Missouri 42-7. Berringer appeared back in form and threw three touchdown passes in the win over the Tigers. NU pounded out 330 yards on the ground and started picking up momentum again. This win vaulted Nebraska past Colorado and Penn State back into the top spot in the AP Poll on November 1, 1994. Berringer would have another outstanding game the following week as Nebraska defeated #2 Colorado 24-7 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. In a highly controversial decision, AP voters dropped Penn State to #2 behind Nebraska after the Nittany Lions defeated Indiana 35-29. Penn State was thumping the Hoosiers 35-14 late in the 4th quarter when head coach Joe Paterno pulled all of his starters and gave his marginal backups a chance to play, leading Indiana to score 15 meaningless points (including a touchdown as the clock expired), and the reaction of the voters (who had earlier jumped Penn State ahead of Nebraska in an earlier week where both teams won) indicated they looked at the final tally and concluded Penn State had played poorly enough against a bad team to merit their AP poll demotion. Penn State was thus locked out of the national championship picture despite finishing with a perfect record.
Nebraska would hold the top spot in the AP Poll for the remainder of the season. The Huskers finished at 13-0 and Penn State at 12-0 and in second place. The Big Ten and the PAC-10 were not part of the Bowl Coalition, which meant Nebraska and Penn State would not play each other in a bowl game.
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.
The John Hancock Bowl went back to its original name, the Sun Bowl. The Gator Bowl was played in Gainesville, Florida during construction of ALLTEL Stadium, which was to be the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars and future home of the Gator Bowl game.
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.
Northeast Louisiana University, now University of Louisiana Monroe joined Division 1-A this year bringing the total number of schools to 107.
Rule Changes 
Due to several fighting incidents that occurred during the 1993 season (including one between the Miami Hurricanes and the Colorado Buffaloes that resulted in 12 ejections), the following changes were made:
- Players involved in fighting on the field will draw a 15-yard penalty and an automatic ejection. If the ejection occurs in the first half, the player(s) will be disqualified for the remainder of the game. If the ejection occurs in the second half (or in overtime as of the 1996 season), the player(s) will be disqualified for the remainder of that game plus the first half of his team's next regularly scheduled game.
- Players leaving the bench to participate in fights will be ejected for the remainder of the game plus his team's entire next regularly scheduled game.
- Repeat offenders will be ejected and suspended for the remainder of the season.
- The officials' jurisdiction over games will begin 60 minutes before kickoff. Any pre-game fights or taunting will be penalized the same as if the fight/taunting occurred during the game, with any yardage penalties enforced on the opening kickoff.
Conference standings 
Bowl Coalition #1 and #2 
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.
|8-9||#2 Colorado||Big 8||#3 Nebraska||Big 8|
|10-11||Nebraska||Big 8||#3 Auburn||SEC|
|12||Nebraska||Big 8||#3 Florida||SEC|
|13-14||Nebraska||Big 8||#3 Alabama||SEC|
|15||Nebraska||Big 8||#3 Miami||Big East|
Bowl games 
- Orange Bowl: #1 Nebraska 24, #3 Miami 17
- Rose Bowl: #2 Penn State 38, #12 Oregon 20
- Sugar Bowl: #7 Florida State 23, #5 Florida 17
- Cotton Bowl Classic: #21 USC 55, Texas Tech 14
- Fiesta Bowl: #4 Colorado 41, Notre Dame 24
- Peach Bowl: #23 NC State 28, #16 Mississippi State 24
- Florida Citrus Bowl: #6 Alabama 24, #13 Ohio State 17
- Hall of Fame Bowl: Wisconsin 34, #25 Duke 20
- Carquest Bowl: South Carolina 24, West Virginia 21
- Sun Bowl: Texas 35, #18 North Carolina 31
- Gator Bowl: Tennessee 45, #17 Virginia Tech 23
- Copper Bowl: #22 BYU 31, Oklahoma 6
- Alamo Bowl: #24 Washington State 10, Baylor 3
- Holiday Bowl: #20 Michigan 24, Colorado State 14
- Freedom Bowl: #14 Utah 16, #15 Arizona 13
- Liberty Bowl: Illinois 30, East Carolina 0
- Aloha Bowl: Boston College 12, #11 Kansas State 7
- Independence Bowl: #18 Virginia 20, TCU 10
- Las Vegas Bowl: UNLV 52, Central Michigan 24
Final AP Poll 
- Penn St.
- Florida St.
- Miami (FL)
- Texas A&M
- Ohio St.
- Colorado St.
- N.C. State
- Kansas St.
- Washington State
- Boston College
- Mississippi State
Final Coaches Poll 
- Penn St.
- Florida St.
- Miami (FL)
- Ohio St.
- Brigham Young
- Colorado St.
- Southern California
- Kansas St.
- North Carolina St.
- Washington St.
- North Carolina
- Boston College
- Virginia Tech
- Mississippi St.
Heisman Trophy voting 
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award is given to the Most Outstanding Player of the year
- 2. Ki-Jana Carter, Penn St., Jr. RB (1080 votes)
- 3. Steve McNair, Alcorn St., Sr. QB (982 votes)
- 4. Kerry Collins, Penn St., Sr. QB (392 votes)
- 5. Jay Barker, Alabama, Sr. QB (294 votes)
Other major awards 
- Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year) - Kerry Collins, Penn State
- Walter Camp Award (Back) - Rashaan Salaam, Colorado
- Davey O'Brien Award (Quarterback) - Kerry Collins, Penn State
- Doak Walker Award (Running Back) - Rashaan Salaam, Colorado
- Dick Butkus Award (Linebacker) - Dana Howard, Illinois
- Lombardi Award (Lineman or Linebacker) - Warren Sapp, Miami
- Outland Trophy (Interior Lineman) - Zach Wiegert, OT, Nebraska
- Jim Thorpe Award (Defensive Back) - Chris Hudson, Colorado
- AFCA Coach of the Year - Tom Osborne, Nebraska
- FWAA Coach of the Year - Joe Paterno, Penn State
- Paul "Bear" Bryant Award - Rich Brooks, Oregon