1996 NCAA Division I-A football season

The 1996 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with the Florida Gators being crowned National Champions after defeating rival Florida State in the Sugar Bowl, which was the season's designated Bowl Alliance national championship game. Florida had faced Florida State earlier in the year, when they were ranked #1 and #2, and lost 24-21. However, unranked Texas's upset of #3 Nebraska in the first ever Big 12 Championship Game set up the rematch of in-state rivals in New Orleans. In the Sugar Bowl, Florida's Heisman Trophy-winning senior quarterback Danny Wuerffel and head coach Steve Spurrier led the Gators to a 52-20 victory and their first national championship.

1996 NCAA Division I-A season
Number of teams111[1]
Preseason AP No. 1Nebraska[2]
Post-season
Bowl games18
Heisman TrophyDanny Wuerffel (quarterback, Florida)
Bowl Alliance Championship
1997 Sugar Bowl
SiteLouisiana Superdome,
New Orleans, Louisiana
Champion(s)Florida
Division I-A football seasons
← 1995
1997 →

Because the Pac-10 and Big Ten Conferences were not yet part of the Bowl Alliance, their champions met in the Rose Bowl as they had for decades. In 1996, these conference champions were potential national title contenders in #2 Arizona State and #4 Ohio State. In a close Rose Bowl contest, Arizona State's Jake Plummer ran for a touchdown with 1:40 left to play to give his team the lead, but Ohio State responded with its own touchdown drive led by backup quarterback Joe Germaine and won 20-17. Ohio State finished #2 in the final AP poll behind #1 Florida, and Arizona State finished #4 behind Florida State. The poll results helped push the Pac-10 and Big Ten to give up their Rose Bowl tradition. Before the 1998 season, they both agreed to join an expanded Bowl Championship Series (BCS) agreement, giving their programs a chance to play in a national championship game. Another controversy that led to the creation of the BCS was that #5 BYU was not invited to a major bowl game but were snubbed in favor of lower ranked teams from Bowl Alliance conferences.

The 1996 season saw ongoing realignment of many conferences. One of the most notable developments was the creation of the Big 12 Conference, which consisted of programs from the old Big 8 along with four former members of the dissolved Southwest Conference, namely Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor. The Big 12 began play as a two division conference, with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State joining the South Division, breaking up the classic Nebraska–Oklahoma rivalry, but renewing the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry, known as the Red River Shootout. The first Big 12 football game featured Texas Tech and Kansas State. Kansas State won by a score of 21–14.[3]

The 1996 season was also notable as it marked the end of ties in college football, as an overtime system was put into place across all of Division I. Though it has been modified slightly, the "Kansas Playoff" overtime rules have been used ever since. (The 1995 season also had overtime rules, but only for postseason games, and they were not used since none of the affected games ended regulation play in a tie.[4])

Rule changesEdit

  • The overtime system adopted in the 1995 season for bowl games was expanded for all Division I-A games.[4]
  • On punts and field goal attempts, the defense cannot touch the center/long snapper for one second after the snap. Violators are penalized 15 yards and an automatic first down.
  • Officials were instructed to more strictly enforce intentional grounding rules.

Conference realignmentEdit

Four teams upgraded from Division I-AA prior to the season and one university dropped its football program. As such, the total number of Division I-A schools increased to 111.

Conference changesEdit

School 1995 Conference 1996 Conference
Alabama–Birmingham Blazers I-AA Independent I-A Independent
Arkansas State Indians Big West I-A Independent
Baylor Bears SWC Big 12
Boise State Broncos Big Sky (I-AA) Big West (I-A)
Central Florida Knights I-AA Independent I-A Independent
Colorado Buffaloes Big 8 Big 12
Cincinnati Bearcats I-A Independent Conference USA
Houston Cougars SWC Conference USA
Idaho Vandals Big Sky (I-AA) Big West (I-A)
Iowa State Cyclones Big 8 Big 12
Kansas Jayhawks Big 8 Big 12
Kansas State Wildcats Big 8 Big 12
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Big West I-A Independent
Louisville Cardinals I-A Independent Conference USA
Memphis Tigers I-A Independent Conference USA
Missouri Tigers Big 8 Big 12
Nebraska Cornhuskers Big 8 Big 12
North Texas Mean Green I-A Independent Big West
Northern Illinois Huskies Big West I-A Independent
Oklahoma Sooners Big 8 Big 12
Oklahoma State Cowboys Big 8 Big 12
Pacific Tigers Big West Dropped Program
Rice Owls SWC WAC
San Jose State Spartans Big West WAC
SMU Mustangs SWC WAC
Southern Miss Golden Eagles I-A Independent Conference USA
Southwestern Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Big West I-A Independent
TCU Horned Frogs SWC WAC
Texas Longhorns SWC Big 12
Texas A&M Aggies SWC Big 12
Texas Tech Red Raiders SWC Big 12
Tulane Green Wave I-A Independent Conference USA
Tulsa Golden Hurricane I-A Independent WAC
UNLV Rebels Big West WAC

Conference standingsEdit

1996 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 3 Florida State $   8 0         11 1  
No. 10 North Carolina   6 2         10 2  
Clemson   6 2         7 5  
Virginia   5 3         7 5  
Georgia Tech   4 4         5 6  
Maryland   3 5         5 6  
NC State   3 5         3 8  
Wake Forest   1 7         3 8  
Duke   0 8         0 11  
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1996 Big 12 Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Northern Division
No. 6 Nebraska x%   8 0         11 2  
No. 8 Colorado   7 1         10 2  
No. 17 Kansas State   6 2         9 3  
Missouri   3 5         5 6  
Kansas   2 6         4 7  
Iowa State   1 7         2 9  
Southern Division
No. 23 Texas x$   6 2         8 5  
Texas Tech   5 3         7 5  
Texas A&M   4 4         6 6  
Oklahoma   3 5         3 8  
Oklahoma State   2 6         5 6  
Baylor   1 7         4 7  
Championship: Texas 37, Nebraska 27
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • $ – Bowl Alliance representative as champion
    % – Bowl Alliance at-large representative
Rankings from AP Poll
1996 Big East Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 13 Virginia Tech +   6 1         10 2  
No. 14 Miami (FL) +   6 1         9 3  
No. 21 Syracuse +   6 1         9 3  
West Virginia   4 3         8 4  
Pittsburgh   3 4         4 7  
Boston College   2 5         5 7  
Rutgers   1 6         2 9  
Temple   0 7         1 10  
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1996 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 2 Ohio State +   7 1         11 1  
No. 15 Northwestern +   7 1         9 3  
No. 7 Penn State   6 2         11 2  
No. 18 Iowa   6 2         9 3  
No. 20 Michigan   5 3         8 4  
Michigan State   5 3         6 6  
Wisconsin   3 5         8 5  
Purdue   2 6         3 8  
Minnesota   1 7         4 7  
Indiana   1 7         3 8  
Illinois   1 7         2 9  
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1996 Big West Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Nevada +   4 1         9 3  
Utah State +   4 1         6 5  
Idaho   3 2         6 5  
North Texas   3 2         5 6  
Boise State   1 4         2 10  
New Mexico State   0 5         1 10  
  • + – Conference co-champions
1996 Conference USA football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Southern Miss +   4 1         8 3  
Houston +   4 1         7 5  
Cincinnati   2 3         6 5  
Louisville   2 3         5 6  
Memphis   2 3         4 7  
Tulane   1 4         2 9  
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1996 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Ball State $   7 1         8 4  
Toledo   6 2         7 4  
Miami   6 2         6 5  
Ohio   5 3         6 6  
Central Michigan   4 4         5 6  
Akron   3 5         4 7  
Bowling Green   3 5         4 7  
Eastern Michigan   3 5         3 8  
Western Michigan   2 6         2 9  
Kent State   1 7         2 9  
  • $ – Conference champion
1996 Pacific-10 Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 4 Arizona State $   8 0         11 1  
No. 16 Washington   7 1         9 3  
Stanford   5 3         7 5  
UCLA   4 4         5 6  
Oregon   3 5         6 5  
California   3 5         6 6  
USC   3 5         6 6  
Arizona   3 5         5 6  
Washington State   3 5         5 6  
Oregon State   1 7         2 9  
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1996 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Eastern Division
No. 1 Florida x$   8 0         12 1  
No. 9 Tennessee   7 1         10 2  
South Carolina   4 4         6 5  
Kentucky   3 5         4 7  
Georgia   3 5         5 6  
Vanderbilt   0 8         2 9  
Western Division
No. 11 Alabama xy   6 2         10 3  
No. 12 LSU x   6 2         10 2  
No. 24 Auburn   4 4         8 4  
Mississippi State   3 5         5 6  
Ole Miss   2 6         5 6  
Arkansas   2 6         4 7  
Championship: Florida 45, Alabama 30
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll
1996 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Mountain Division
No. 5 BYU x$   8 0         14 1  
Utah   6 2         8 4  
Rice   6 2         7 4  
SMU   4 4         5 6  
New Mexico   3 5         6 5  
TCU   3 5         4 7  
Tulsa   2 6         4 7  
UTEP   0 8         2 9  
Pacific Division
No. 22 Wyoming x   7 1         10 2  
San Diego State   6 2         8 3  
Colorado State   6 2         7 5  
Air Force   5 3         6 5  
Fresno State   3 5         4 7  
San Jose State   3 5         3 9  
Hawaii   1 7         2 10  
UNLV   1 8         1 11  
Championship: BYU 28, Wyoming 25 OT
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1996 NCAA Division I-A independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 25 Army           10 2  
Navy           9 3  
No. 19 Notre Dame           8 3  
East Carolina           8 3  
Louisiana Tech           6 5  
UAB           5 6  
UCF           5 6  
Southwestern Louisiana           5 6  
Northeast Louisiana           5 6  
Arkansas State           4 7  
Northern Illinois           1 10  
Rankings from AP Poll

Bowl Alliance first and secondsEdit

The Bowl Alliance did not include the Pacific-10 and Big 10 conferences, whose champions played in the Rose Bowl. Thus, Arizona State and Ohio State (who met in the Rose Bowl) were excluded from the Bowl Alliance championship.

WEEKS First Conf. Second Conf. Event Date
PRE-4 Nebraska Big 12 Tennessee SEC Arizona St. 19, Nebraska 0 September 21
5-6 Florida SEC Florida State ACC Ohio State 38, Penn State 7 October 5
7-14 Florida SEC #3 Florida State ACC Florida St. 24, Florida 21 November 30
15 Florida State ACC #3 Nebraska Big 12 Texas 37, Nebraska 27 December 7
16 Florida State ACC #3 Florida SEC Florida 52, Florida State 20 January 1

Bowl gamesEdit

Sugar Bowl #3 Florida 52 #1 Florida St. 20 1/2/97
Rose Bowl: #4 Ohio St. 20 #2 Arizona St. 17 1/1/97
Cotton Bowl Classic: #5 Brigham Young 19 #14 Kansas St. 15 1/1/97
Fiesta Bowl: #7 Penn State 38 #20 Texas 15 1/1/97
Florida Citrus Bowl: #9 Tennessee 48 #11 Northwestern 28 1/1/97
Gator Bowl: #12 North Carolina 20 #25 West Virginia 13 1/1/97
Outback Bowl: #16 Alabama 17 #15 Michigan 14 1/1/97
Peach Bowl #17 LSU 10 Clemson 7 1/1/97
Orange Bowl: #6 Nebraska 41 #10 Virginia Tech 21 12/31/96
Sun Bowl: Stanford 38 Michigan State 0 12/31/96
Independence Bowl Auburn 32 #24 Army 29 12/31/96
Holiday Bowl: #8 Colorado 33 #13 Washington 21 12/30/96
Alamo Bowl: #21 Iowa 27 Texas Tech 0 12/29/96
Carquest Bowl #19 Miami (FL) 31 Virginia 21 12/27/96
Liberty Bowl #23 Syracuse 30 Houston 17 12/27/96
Copper Bowl: Wisconsin 38 Utah 10 12/27/96
Aloha Bowl Navy 42 California 38 12/25/96
Las Vegas Bowl Nevada 18 Ball State 15 12/18/96

Final AP PollEdit

  1. Florida
  2. Ohio St.
  3. Florida St.
  4. Arizona St.
  5. BYU
  6. Nebraska
  7. Penn St.
  8. Colorado
  9. Tennessee
  10. North Carolina
  11. Alabama
  12. LSU
  13. Virginia Tech
  14. Miami (FL)
  15. Northwestern
  16. Washington
  17. Kansas St.
  18. Iowa
  19. Notre Dame
  20. Michigan
  21. Syracuse
  22. Wyoming
  23. Texas
  24. Auburn
  25. Army

Others receiving votes: 26. West Virginia; 27. East Carolina; 28. Southern Mississippi; 29. Stanford; 30. Wisconsin; 31. San Diego St.; 32. Virginia; 33. Clemson

Final Coaches PollEdit

  1. Florida
  2. Ohio St.
  3. Florida St.
  4. Arizona St.
  5. Brigham Young
  6. Nebraska
  7. Penn St.
  8. Colorado
  9. Tennessee
  10. North Carolina
  11. Alabama
  12. Virginia Tech
  13. LSU
  14. Miami (FL)
  15. Washington
  16. Northwestern
  17. Kansas St.
  18. Iowa
  19. Syracuse
  20. Michigan
  21. Notre Dame
  22. Wyoming
  23. Texas
  24. Army
  25. Auburn

Heisman Trophy votingEdit

The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award is given to the Most Outstanding Player of the year
Winner: Danny Wuerffel, Florida, Quarterback (1363 points)

Other major awardsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "1996 NCAA Division IA Football Power Ratings". www.jhowell.net. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2009-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ DeLassus, David. "Kansas State University football records--1996". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "No more ties: NDAA D-I football adds tiebreakers". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). Associated Press. February 17, 1996. p. 4D.