The 1986 college football season was a seminal moment in the history of the sport and the series of articles below tell the stories of its four most consequential teams…
*Penn State and Miami are the teams that defined the season. Both were coming off disappointments on New Year’s Night in 1985 when they let an opportunity for a national championship get away.
Driven for redemption, the Lions and Hurricanes each went undefeated in 1986. Miami steamrolled through the regular season. Penn State wasn’t quite as dominant and you’ll read about a couple moments when it all nearly slipped away from them.
The Miami-Penn State matchup in the Fiesta Bowl was epic and one of the most historically meaningful championship games in the history of American sports.
*Oklahoma was the third prong of a Power Trio that ruled college football. The Sooners had won the national championship in 1985, but they had a Miami problem. Namely, they couldn’t beat the Hurricanes. They hadn’t in ’85 and the problem wasn’t going away in 1986. What OU could do was demolish most everyone else in their path.
*Michigan and feisty quarterback Jim Harbaugh rode close to the edge all season long, with repeated narrow escapes, and as late as November got to #2 in the polls. They threatened to be a fly in the ointment for the Fiesta Bowl’s hopes of creating a 1 vs. 2 title game. You’ll read how the Wolverines did eventually get to the Rose Bowl…and about the loss where their flirtations with danger finally did them in.
These four teams shaped the race for the national title in 1986. The articles below tell the season-long stories of Penn State, Miami, Oklahoma and Michigan. Collectively they serve to tell the story of the 1986 college football season through the eyes of its best teams.