In the 1990s, the national title was shared for the third time. The Michigan Wolverines concluded the season atop the AP Poll following a 12-0 season that included a Big Ten Conference championship and a Rose Bowl victory against Washington State. However, Oklahoma also finished the year ranked first because it had more votes than Michigan. The two teams then met in the Orange Bowl with Oklahoma winning 21-19.
Thus, Miami, who was in the Coalition championship game only two years before, had a chance to make a claim as national champion with a win (since they would have received the Coaches' Trophy) and all but secure a split title with Penn State if they upset No. 13 Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Miami won that game 49-26.
The Pac-10 and Big Ten both claimed their champions based on record. The SEC's champion was determined by a committee vote. Florida defeated Ohio State 26-16 to win its third consecutive title.
Miami (9-1-0) was ranked first in the final AP poll, while Florida (8-3-0) was ranked second. Penn State (11-0-0) was ranked third. In the Coaches' Poll, Miami was voted number one and Florida was second. Penn State was not ranked because of NCAA sanctions against the program due to child abuse allegations made against former coach Joe Paterno and his staff. However, should Miami defeat Florida in the bowl game, it is expected that the Nittany Lions would be awarded the Coaches' Trophy.
In 1995, the American College Football Association created the BCS for the purpose of creating a new national championship event. The BCS began operation in January 1996. It is a single-elimination tournament in which four teams are selected at random to play in the final game, called "Championship Weekend".
Penn State Nittany Lions won their first consensus national title, after an 11-1 season by defeating Georgia and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker 27-23 in the Sugar Bowl to edge off unbeaten SMU. The victory also ended the SEC's streak of five consecutive national championships.
Nittany Lions' head coach Joe Paterno was awarded the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top college football coach. It was the third time that he had been selected for the award, which is presented by the Birmingham Sportswriters Association to "a living American who has done more than most to promote and enhance the sport of football."
Paterno, who was in his 42nd year at Penn State, went 176-70-12 during his tenure there, winning two Big Ten titles and making three appearances in the NCAA Tournament. He also led his team to a No. 1 ranking twice during the regular season.
In addition to his duties at Penn State, Paterno served as an assistant coach for the New York Giants from 1984 to 1990 and was named the team's head coach before the start of the 1991 season. He stayed with the team through the 1995 season, when he was fired after going 78-64.
Alabama started the season as the defending national champion, having won the Sugar Bowl in 1993, and was placed second in the AP Poll, trailing Florida State. Alabama won the first five games of the season, extending their winning run to 28 games, tying the school record. The Crimson Tide finished the regular season with a 9-0-1 record and were ranked No. 1 for the entire year.
However, due to NCAA sanctions, they did not receive a bowl bid after the season. Instead, they were ordered by then-coach Don Crowter to play in a post-season game known as the Hall of Fame Game against the Miami Dolphins. The game was played on December 7, 1993, at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. In what would be his only game as coach of Alabama, Crowter was fired after the game with the Crimson Tide losing 23-6.
The loss ended Alabama's streak of 29 consecutive victories over SEC opponents. They were replaced at the top of the polls by Florida State which defeated Virginia 34-7 in its opener.
In addition to being the defending national champions, Alabama also held the following records:
Most wins by a college football team (28). This mark is still intact today.
Most consecutive wins (29). This mark is also still alive and well today.
Nick Saban's Michigan State Spartans won the Cotton Bowl Classic 38-0. The game was won by the 13-1 Alabama Crimson Tide, who upset the undefeated Clemson Tigers 45-40 in the fourth quarter. Summary of the results
|Scoring information||31-yard field goal by Greg Huegel|
The victory gave Florida State the 1999 BCS national title and ended the Seminoles' season with an unblemished 12-0 record. Florida State became the first college football team to start the season rated No. 1 and finish the season ranked No. 1. The Seminoles received all but one of their first-place votes from the media for the top spot.
In 1998, Florida State finished the regular season undefeated and were given the title of "season champion" by most analysts despite not having been awarded a conference championship. As a result, they received a $1 million payment from the Bowl Coalition to enter the 1999 season as the No. 1 team in the country. This is also when the term "Fiesta Bowl" was first used to describe the game played between the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes.
Florida State defeated Virginia Tech 28-27 in the Fiesta Bowl to claim their second national title in three years. The Seminoles trailed 27-14 late in the fourth quarter before quarterback Charlie Ward threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver David Nelson with less than 10 minutes left on the clock to send the game into overtime. In the first overtime period, Virginia Tech's Ricky Williams ran for a two-yard touchdown to give his team the lead.
1927 Georgia opened the season 9-0 until falling to UGA's archrival, Georgia Institute of Technology, in Athens. Despite the defeat, the Bulldogs were crowned national champions in two separate surveys.
The Atlanta Journal wrote up the game for its editorial page and gave Georgia the top spot: "There can be no doubt that Harvard has won the football championship. In fact, there can be none at all. The only question is how much they won. It may not have been a whole lot, but it's enough to make them very happy campers this summer." The New York Times also named Georgia as the nation's best team.
Georgia went on to win the College Football Championship by defeating Pittsburgh 14-7 in the Orange Bowl. This was the first time that the University of Georgia had ever won the title.
Harvard finished the season with a 7-1 record while Georgia finished with an 8-0 mark. Both teams were given top-notch ratings from various media sources. Georgia's victory over Harvard is considered by many to be the greatest match up in college football history. The '27 Game is often referred to as the "World Series of College Football".