2004 NCAA Division I-A football season

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2004 NCAA Division I-A season
Matt Leinart's Heisman Trophy.jpg
Heisman Trophy won by Matt Leinart for the 2004 season
Number of teams 117 full members + 2 transitional
Preseason AP #1 USC Trojans
Post-season
Duration December 14, 2004 –
January 4, 2005
Bowl games 28
Heisman Trophy Matt Leinart, USC QB
Bowl Championship Series
2005 Orange Bowl
Site Dolphin Stadium,
Miami Gardens, Florida
Winner USC Trojans (vacated)
Division I-A football seasons
← 2003
2005 →

The 2004 NCAA Division I-A football season was the highest level of college football competition in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 2004. The regular season began on August 28, 2004 and ended on December 4, 2004. The postseason concluded on January 4, 2005 with the Orange Bowl, which served as the season's BCS National Championship Game.

USC defeated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl by a score of 55–19, which earned the Trojans their second consecutive AP title and first-ever BCS title. The Orange Bowl win and accompanying BCS title were later vacated as part of the sanctions levied against USC following an NCAA investigation. USC appealed the decision but was denied by the NCAA, and the 2004 BCS title was officially vacated on June 6, 2011.

Rule changes[edit]

The NCAA Rules Committee adopted the following rule changes for the 2004 season:

  • Instant replay would make its debut in college football, as the Big Ten Conference began to use it on a one-year experimental basis.[1]
  • Officials are allowed to announce the number of a player committing a penalty, similar to the NFL.
  • Modifying the rule regarding offensive substitutions made and rushing to snap the ball before the defense can make their changes; eliminating the five yard penalty for the first offense (but stopping play and warning the offensive team), but maintaining the 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for further violations.
  • Allowing the head coach to request a time-out.
  • Allowing the receiving team the option to enforce encroachment penalties on punts/kickoffs either from the end of the return or from the previous line of scrimmage, requiring a re-kick.
  • Leaping on PAT/Field Goal attempts is prohibited.
  • Defensive pass interference will not be called when a kicker throws a ball high and downfield to simulate a pass.
  • Roughing the passer will not be called if a defensive player is blocked into the passer.

Conference changes[edit]

Prior to the 2004 season, Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech left the Big East Conference to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), giving the ACC 11 members. Connecticut joined the Big East after having been an Independent since ascending to Division I-A in 2000. Troy also left their Independent status and joined the Sun Belt Conference. Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University moved up from Division I-AA and became I-A Independents.

School 2003 Conference 2004 Conference
Connecticut Huskies I-A Independent Big East
Florida Atlantic Owls I-AA Independent I-A Independent
Florida International Panthers I-AA Independent I-A Independent
Miami Hurricanes Big East ACC
Troy Trojans I-A Independent Sun Belt
Virginia Tech Hokies Big East ACC

BCS Controversy[edit]

Undefeated teams[edit]

The 2004 season ended with five undefeated teams vying for a spot in the national title game. In the 2003 season, no team finished the regular season unbeaten, and five teams finished the season with one loss. In 2004, the situation became even more complicated, as five teams went without losing, a record in the BCS era (later tied in 2009). USC of the Pac-10, Oklahoma of the Big 12, Auburn of the SEC, Utah of the MWC, and Boise State of the WAC all finished the regular season undefeated. USC and Oklahoma were ranked #1 and #2, respectively, in the preseason by both the AP and Coaches Polls, but the other three undefeated teams were handicapped by starting the season out of the top 15. Thus USC and OU played for the BCS National Championship in the Orange Bowl, while Auburn, Utah, and Boise State had to settle for other bowl games.

Auburn played in the Sugar Bowl and beat Virginia Tech, the ACC champion and ranked #8 by the BCS. Utah became the first BCS Buster and beat Pittsburgh, the champion of the Big East and ranked #21, in the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State lost a close, high scoring game in the Liberty Bowl to Louisville, the #10 ranked Conference USA champion.

As with previous seasons, fans of successful teams left out of the BCS were disappointed. Auburn, Utah, and Boise State all went unbeaten but were not offered a chance to compete for the championship. Auburn was especially the focus of national media attention on this topic, since Auburn managed to go undefeated in the traditionally tough SEC. Adding to the frustration with the BCS system was the fact that Auburn and Utah, though both picked to play in BCS bowl games, would not be able to play each other as a match-up of highly ranked unbeatens. This confluence of events made 2004 a seminal year for serious momentum building behind a multi-team playoff system in college football, which would later be realized with the advent of the College Football Playoff.

USC was forced to vacate their BCS title win, along with their regular-season victory over rival UCLA, due to NCAA sanctions that stemmed from the USC athletics scandal. The AP title was not vacated, as the AP does not punish teams for violations. The severity of these sanctions has since been criticized by some pundits across college football.[2][3][4][5][6]

Rose Bowl[edit]

Controversy also arose in selecting the second at-large team of the BCS after Utah. California expected to get the invitation, having been ranked fourth by the BCS entering the last week of the regular season. Texas, which had been left out of the BCS the previous season, was ranked fifth. Both teams finished with 10-1 records, but the Longhorns received a boost of support from poll voters in the final regular season rankings to overtake Cal and move into the fourth position, which ensured they would also receive the final at-large bid. Texas coach Mack Brown was criticized for publicly politicking voters to put Texas ahead of California, and Cal coach Jeff Tedford called for coaches' votes to be made public. Texas went on to defeat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, while California lost to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.

AP Poll[edit]

The Associated Press, as a result of two consecutive seasons of BCS controversy, prohibited the BCS from using their poll as part of its ranking formula following the 2004 season. The AP poll was replaced by the Harris Interactive poll starting in 2005, and the AP continues to award its own national championship trophy.

In another first, the LSU Tigers lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes on a last second Hail Mary pass in the Capital One Bowl, becoming the first school to lose a non-BCS bowl a year after winning the BCS National Championship Game.

Conference standings[edit]

2004 ACC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 10 Virginia Tech $   7 1         10 3  
No. 15 Florida State   6 2         9 3  
No. 11 Miami   5 3         9 3  
No. 23 Virginia   5 3         8 4  
North Carolina   5 3         6 6  
Georgia Tech   4 4         7 5  
Clemson   4 4         6 5  
NC State   3 5         5 6  
Maryland   3 5         5 6  
Wake Forest   1 7         4 7  
Duke   1 7         2 9  
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Big East football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 25 Pittsburgh $+   4 2         8 4  
No. 21 Boston College +   4 2         9 3  
West Virginia +   4 2         8 4  
Syracuse +   4 2         6 6  
Connecticut   3 3         8 4  
Rutgers   1 5         4 7  
Temple   1 5         2 9  
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 8 Iowa +   7 1         10 2  
No. 14 Michigan $+   7 1         9 3  
No. 17 Wisconsin   6 2         9 3  
Northwestern   5 3         6 6  
No. 20 Ohio State   4 4         8 4  
Purdue   4 4         7 5  
Michigan State   4 4         5 7  
Minnesota   3 5         7 5  
Penn State   2 6         4 7  
Illinois   1 7         3 8  
Indiana   1 7         3 8  
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Big 12 football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Northern Division
Colorado xy   4 4         8 5  
Iowa State x   4 4         7 5  
Missouri   3 5         5 6  
Nebraska   3 5         5 6  
Kansas   2 6         4 7  
Kansas State   2 6         4 7  
Southern Division
No. 3 Oklahoma xy$   8 0         12 1  
No. 5 Texas  %   7 1         11 1  
No. 18 Texas Tech   5 3         8 4  
Texas A&M   5 3         7 5  
Oklahoma State   4 4         7 5  
Baylor   1 7         3 8  
Championship: Oklahoma 42, Colorado 3
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
  • % – BCS at-large representative
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Conference USA football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 6 Louisville $   8 0         11 1  
Memphis   5 3         8 4  
Southern Miss   5 3         7 5  
Cincinnati   5 3         7 5  
UAB   5 3         7 5  
TCU   3 5         5 6  
Tulane   3 5         5 6  
South Florida   3 5         4 7  
Houston   3 5         3 8  
East Carolina   2 6         2 9  
Army   2 6         2 9  
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
East Division
Miami x   7 1         8 5  
Akron   6 2         6 5  
Marshall   6 2         6 6  
Kent State   4 4         5 6  
Ohio   2 6         4 7  
Buffalo   2 6         2 9  
UCF   0 8         0 11  
West Division
Toledo xy$   7 1         9 4  
Northern Illinois x   7 1         9 3  
Bowling Green   6 2         9 3  
Eastern Michigan   4 4         4 7  
Central Michigan   3 5         4 7  
Ball State   2 6         2 9  
Western Michigan   0 8         1 10  
Championship: Toledo 35, Miami 27
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Mountain West football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 4 Utah $   7 0         12 0  
New Mexico   5 2         7 5  
BYU   4 3         5 6  
Wyoming   3 4         7 5  
Air Force   3 4         5 6  
Colorado State   3 4         4 7  
San Diego State   2 5         4 7  
UNLV   1 6         2 9  
  • $ – Conference champion and BCS representative as top non-AQ school to meet automatic qualification criteria
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Pacific-10 football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 1 USC * $   8 0         13 0  
No. 9 California   7 1         10 2  
No. 19 Arizona State   5 3         9 3  
Oregon State   5 3         7 5  
UCLA   4 4         6 6  
Oregon   4 4         5 6  
Washington State   3 5         5 6  
Stanford   2 6         4 7  
Arizona   2 6         3 8  
Washington   0 8         1 10  
  • $ – Conference champion
  • * – USC later vacated 2 wins (1 in conference), as well as the BCS and Pac-10 Championships, due to NCAA sanctions.
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 SEC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Eastern Division
No. 13 Tennessee x   7 1         10 3  
No. 7 Georgia   6 2         10 2  
Florida   4 4         7 5  
South Carolina   4 4         6 5  
Kentucky   1 7         2 9  
Vanderbilt   1 7         2 9  
Western Division
No. 2 Auburn x$   8 0         13 0  
No. 16 LSU   6 2         9 3  
Alabama   3 5         6 6  
Arkansas   3 5         5 6  
Ole Miss   3 5         4 7  
Mississippi State   2 6         3 8  
Championship: Auburn 38, Tennessee 28
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Sun Belt football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
North Texas $   7 0         7 5  
Troy   4 2         7 5  
New Mexico State   3 2         5 6  
Louisiana–Monroe   3 3         5 6  
Middle Tennessee   4 4         5 6  
Arkansas State   3 4         3 8  
Louisiana–Lafayette   2 5         4 7  
Utah State   2 5         3 8  
Idaho   2 5         3 9  
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 WAC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 12 Boise State $   8 0         11 1  
UTEP   6 2         8 4  
No. 22 Fresno State   5 3         9 3  
Louisiana Tech   5 3         6 6  
Hawaii   4 4         8 5  
Nevada   3 5         5 7  
Tulsa   3 5         4 8  
SMU   3 5         3 8  
Rice   2 6         3 8  
San Jose State   1 7         2 9  
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
2004 Division I-A independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Navy           10 2  
Florida Atlantic           9 3  
Florida International *           3 7  
Notre Dame           6 6  
  • * - Florida International later vacated 3 wins, due to NCAA sanctions
Rankings from AP Poll

Final AP Poll[edit]

Utah Utes fans rush the field and carry the goalpost after defeating rival BYU, completing a perfect regular season, and becoming the first BCS Buster by clinching a spot in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl (hence the sombrero).
  1. USC (11–0)*
  2. Auburn (13–0)
  3. Oklahoma (12–1)
  4. Utah (12–0)
  5. Texas (11–1)
  6. Louisville (11–1)
  7. Georgia (10–2)
  8. Iowa (10–2)
  9. California (10–2)
  10. Virginia Tech (10–3)
  11. Miami (9–3)
  12. Boise St. (11–1)
  13. Tennessee (10–3)
  14. Michigan (9–3)
  15. Florida State (9–3)
  16. Louisiana St. (9–3)
  17. Wisconsin (9–3)
  18. Texas Tech (8–4)
  19. Arizona State (9–3)
  20. Ohio St. (8–4)
  21. Boston College (9–3)
  22. Fresno St. (9–3)
  23. Virginia (8–4)
  24. Navy (10–2)
  25. Pittsburgh (8–4)

* USC finished the season with a 13–0 record but was forced to vacate two wins in 2010 as a result of NCAA sanctions.

Bowl games[edit]

BCS bowls[edit]

Rankings given are AP rankings going into bowl games

Other New Years Day bowls[edit]

December bowl games[edit]

UCLA vs. Wyoming in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl

Heisman Trophy voting[edit]

The Heisman Trophy is given annually to college football's most outstanding player

Other major awards[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]