1991 NCAA Division I-A football season

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1991 NCAA Division I-A season
Number of teams106[1]
Preseason AP No. 1Florida State Seminoles[2]
Post-season
Bowl games18
AP Poll No. 1Miami Hurricanes
Coaches Poll No. 1Washington Huskies
Heisman TrophyDesmond Howard, Michigan WR-KR
WinnerMiami Hurricanes (AP)
Washington Huskies (Coaches)
Division I-A football seasons
← 1990
1992 →

The 1991 NCAA Division I-A football season was the main college football season sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The season began on August 28, 1991, and ended on January 1, 1992. For the second consecutive season, there was a split national championship. Both the Miami Hurricanes and the Washington Huskies finished the season undefeated (12–0) and with the top ranking in a nationally recognized poll.

Under the conference-bowl selection alignments of the time, the Hurricanes and Huskies could not meet in a decisive title game because Washington was slotted into the Rose Bowl as the Pac-10 champions, and the other spot in the Rose Bowl was automatically given to the Big Ten champions (Michigan). The Rose Bowl's selection terms later thwarted potential title matchups of undefeated teams following the 1994 and 1997 seasons. Following the 1998 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) realignment, several Pac-10 and Big Ten teams were able to play in a BCS title game instead of being forced to play a non-title contender in the Rose Bowl; these include the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2002, 2006 and 2007, the USC Trojans in 2004 and 2005 and the Oregon Ducks in 2010.

Miami closed the 1991 season with a 22–0 shutout over No. 11 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, but their season was defined by a dramatic November victory over then No. 1 ranked and perennial rival Florida State. That game ended with the FSU place kicker missing a field goal, wide right, which would become a theme in the Florida State–Miami football rivalry; this game later took on the moniker "Wide Right I." Nebraska lost to both national champions in 1991 and finished at 9–2–1, ranked No. 15 in the AP poll.

Washington posted a 15-point victory at No. 9 Nebraska in September, a seven-point win at No. 7 California in October, and repeated as Pac-10 champions. They went on to win the Rose Bowl by 20 points over No. 4 Michigan, the Big Ten champions who featured Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard; it was Washington's second consecutive Rose Bowl win. Michigan finished at 10–2, ranked at No. 6 in both polls.

The Florida Gators captured their first official SEC title in school history (they had previously won the 1984 SEC title, but it was later vacated) in dominating fashion. Alabama finished second in the SEC with an 11–1 record, but were shutout 35–0 by the Gators. Florida's luck ran out in the Sugar Bowl, as No. 18 Notre Dame powered their way to a 39–28 win.

Conference and program changes[edit]

  • Independent Florida State joined the ACC in 1991; known primarily as a basketball conference, the ACC would never be the same for football. Dominant from the moment they joined, Florida State went undefeated in conference play for years and won the conference title for the remainder of the 1990s. The Seminoles would begin ACC football play in 1992.
  • The Big East Conference began sponsoring football during the 1991 season after adding Miami and other independent teams. Conference play, however, was not fully integrated and official standings were not kept until 1992.
School 1990 Conference 1991 Conference
Boston College Eagles I-A Independent Big East
Miami (FL) Hurricanes I-A Independent Big East
Pittsburgh Panthers I-A Independent Big East
Rutgers Scarlet Knights I-A Independent Big East
Syracuse Orangemen I-A Independent Big East
Temple Owls I-A Independent Big East
Virginia Tech Hokies I-A Independent Big East
West Virginia Mountaineers I-A Independent Big East

Rule changes[edit]

The NCAA adopted the following rule changes for the 1991 season:

  • Repealing a rule change from 1959, the width of the goal posts were shortened from 23 feet, 4 inches to 18 feet, 6 inches, matching the NFL width. The hashmarks did not change from their position of 53 feet, 4 inches apart, causing drastically difficult angles for field-goal attempts.
  • Offensive holding, illegal use of hands, and clipping penalties committed behind the line of scrimmage will be enforced from the spot of the foul, rescinding a 1982 rule that enforced those penalties from the previous spot.
  • When kickoffs and free kicks go out of bounds untouched in the field of play, the receivers have the option to put the ball in play 30 yards from the spot of the kick, in addition to the two other options (putting the ball in play at the out-of-bounds spot or re-kick after a five-yard penalty).
  • When a fumble occurs anywhere in the field of play on fourth down, only the fumbling player can recover and/or advance the fumble. If a teammate recovers the fumble, the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble, unless the recovery was made behind the spot of the fumble, in which case the ball is dead at the spot of recovery. This mirrors the NFL's "Stabler fumble rule" adopted in 1979 after the "Holy Roller" game.
  • After numerous taunting incidents in the 1991 Cotton Bowl, unsportsmanlike conduct (15 yard) penalties will be enforced for any taunting acts (such as finger-pointing, baiting an opponent verbally, etc.) and individual celebrations in the field of play.
  • Teams attempting the "fumblerooski" must inform the referee of their intentions before the play. If a team fails to do this, they are penalized five yards.

Conference standings[edit]

1991 ACC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 18 Clemson $ 6 0 1     9 2 1
No. 24 NC State 5 2 0     9 3 0
Georgia Tech 5 2 0     8 5 0
Virginia 4 2 1     8 3 1
North Carolina 3 4 0     7 4 0
Maryland 2 5 0     2 9 0
Duke 1 6 0     4 6 1
Wake Forest 1 6 0     3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 Big East football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 11 Syracuse 5 0 0     10 2 0
No. 1 Miami (FL) 2 0 0     12 0 0
Virginia Tech 1 0 0     5 6 0
Pittsburgh 3 2 0     6 5 0
West Virginia 3 4 0     6 5 0
Rutgers 2 3 0     6 5 0
Boston College 2 4 0     4 7 0
Temple 0 5 0     2 9 0
  • The Big East did not crown an official champion until 1993 when full league play began.
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 Big 8 football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 15 Nebraska + 6 0 1     9 2 1
No. 20 Colorado + 6 0 1     8 3 1
No. 16 Oklahoma 5 2 0     9 3 0
Kansas State 4 3 0     7 4 0
Kansas 3 4 0     6 5 0
Iowa State 1 5 1     3 7 1
Missouri 1 6 0     3 7 1
Oklahoma State 0 6 1     0 10 1
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 6 Michigan $ 8 0 0     10 2 0
No. 10 Iowa 7 1 0     10 1 1
Ohio State 5 3 0     8 4 0
Indiana 5 3 0     7 4 1
Illinois 4 4 0     6 6 0
Purdue 3 5 0     4 7 0
Michigan State 3 5 0     3 8 0
Wisconsin 2 6 0     5 6 0
Northwestern 2 6 0     3 8 0
Minnesota 1 7 0     2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 Big West Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Fresno State + 6 1 0     10 2 0
San Jose State + 6 1 0     6 4 1
Utah State 5 2 0     5 6 0
Pacific (CA) 4 3 0     5 7 0
UNLV 2 5 0     4 7 0
Long Beach State 2 5 0     2 9 0
New Mexico State 2 5 0     2 9 0
Cal State Fullerton 1 6 0     2 9 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Bowling Green $ 8 0 0     11 1 0
Central Michigan 3 1 4     6 1 4
Miami 4 3 1     6 4 1
Toledo 4 3 1     5 5 1
Ball State 4 4 0     6 5 0
Western Michigan 4 4 0     6 5 0
Eastern Michigan 3 4 1     3 7 1
Ohio 1 6 1     2 8 1
Kent State 1 7 0     1 10 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1991 Pacific-10 football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 2 Washington $   8 0         12 0  
No. 8 California   6 2         10 2  
No. 19 UCLA   6 2         9 3  
No. 22 Stanford   6 2         8 4  
Arizona State   4 4         6 5  
Washington State   3 5         4 7  
Arizona   3 5         4 7  
USC   2 6         3 8  
Oregon   1 7         3 8  
Oregon State   1 7         1 10  
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 SEC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 7 Florida $ 7 0 0     10 2 0
No. 5 Alabama 6 1 0     11 1 0
No. 14 Tennessee 5 2 0     9 3 0
No. 17 Georgia 4 3 0     9 3 0
Mississippi State 4 3 0     7 5 0
LSU 3 4 0     5 6 0
Vanderbilt 3 4 0     5 6 0
Auburn 2 5 0     5 6 0
Ole Miss 1 6 0     5 6 0
Kentucky 0 7 0     3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 12 Texas A&M $ 8 0 0     10 2 0
Baylor 5 3 0     8 4 0
Texas Tech 5 3 0     6 5 0
Arkansas 5 3 0     6 6 0
TCU 4 4 0     7 4 0
Texas 4 4 0     5 6 0
Houston 3 5 0     4 7 0
Rice 2 6 0     4 7 0
SMU 0 8 0     1 10 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 WAC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 23 BYU $ 7 0 1     8 3 2
San Diego State 6 1 1     8 4 1
No. 25 Air Force 6 2 0     10 3 0
Utah 4 4 0     7 5 0
Hawaii 3 5 0     4 7 1
Wyoming 2 5 1     4 6 1
UTEP 2 5 1     4 7 1
Colorado State 2 6 0     3 8 0
New Mexico 2 6 0     2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1991 Division I-A independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 9 East Carolina         11 1 0
No. 4 Florida State         11 2 0
No. 3 Penn State         11 2 0
No. 21 Tulsa         10 2 0
Louisiana Tech         8 1 2
No. 13 Notre Dame         10 3 0
Akron         5 6 0
Memphis         5 6 0
Army         4 7 0
Cincinnati         4 7 0
Southern Miss         4 7 0
South Carolina         3 6 2
Southwestern Louisiana         2 8 1
Louisville         2 9 0
Northern Illinois         2 9 0
Tulane         1 10 0
Navy         1 10 0
Rankings from AP Poll

#1 and #2 progress[edit]

In the pre-season poll, Florida State was ranked #1 with 54 of the 59 votes cast, Michigan was 2nd, and Miami 3rd. As of the September 10th poll, Florida State remained the overwhelming choice for #1 and Miami reached #2. Those two Sunshine State teams would continue to be 1 and 2 as their November 16 meeting approached. On November 16th in Tallahassee, the long-awaited #1 & #2 showdown had the 10-0 Seminoles hosting the 8-0 Hurricanes. Visiting Miami won, 17-16 to take the top spot. In the Pacific Northwest, Washington won its Apple Cup game by 35 points on November 23 and finished the regular season at 11-0; the Huskies took over the #2 spot in the final two polls of the regular season.

In the coaches poll, Florida State and Miami opened up the season 1-2 and remained that way until Miami's win on November 16 put the Hurricanes #1 and allowed the Huskies to move to #2. After the end of the regular season, the coaches moved the Washington Huskies to the #1 ranking. They would keep the top spot after their Rose Bowl win over Michigan to split the National Title.

Bowl games[edit]

Final rankings[edit]

AP Poll[edit]

  1. Miami (FL)
  2. Washington
  3. Penn State
  4. Florida State
  5. Alabama
  6. Michigan
  7. Florida
  8. California
  9. East Carolina
  10. Iowa
  11. Syracuse
  12. Texas A&M
  13. Notre Dame
  14. Tennessee
  15. Nebraska
  16. Oklahoma
  17. Georgia
  18. Clemson
  19. UCLA
  20. Colorado
  21. Tulsa
  22. Stanford
  23. Brigham Young
  24. North Carolina State
  25. Air Force

Coaches Poll[edit]

  1. Washington
  2. Miami (FL)
  3. Penn State
  4. Florida State
  5. Alabama
  6. Michigan
  7. California
  8. Florida
  9. East Carolina
  10. Iowa
  11. Syracuse
  12. Notre Dame
  13. Texas A&M
  14. Oklahoma
  15. Tennessee
  16. Nebraska
  17. Clemson
  18. UCLA
  19. Georgia
  20. Colorado
  21. Tulsa
  22. Stanford
  23. Brigham Young
  24. Air Force
  25. North Carolina State

Heisman Trophy voting[edit]

The Heisman is given to the Most Outstanding Player of the year

  1. Desmond Howard, Michigan, Jr. - WR-KR
  2. Casey Weldon, Florida State, Sr. - QB
  3. Ty Detmer, BYU, Sr. - QB - (1990 winner)
  4. Steve Emtman, Washington, Jr. - DT
  5. Shane Matthews, Florida, Jr. - QB
  6. Vaughn Dunbar, Indiana, Sr. - TB
  7. Jeff Blake, East Carolina, Sr. - QB
  8. Terrell Buckley, Florida State, Jr. - DB
  9. Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, Fr. - RB
  10. Bucky Richardson, Texas A&M, Sr. - QB

Other major awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.jhowell.net/cf/cf1991.htm
  2. ^ "1991 Preseason AP Football Poll". College Poll Archive. Retrieved January 7, 2017.