The 1987 college football season saw its structure shaped by four teams—Miami, Oklahoma, Florida State and Nebraska effectively went into two separate brackets and played a de facto playoff, replete with regular season semifinals, a bowl game consolation battle and ultimately an Orange Bowl battle for the national championship.
This download tells the story of the 1987 college football season as it unfolded week-by-week, all the way through the bowl games. You’ll remember all the biggest games and look back on the key players that defined the year for top programs across the country. You’ll read about the following…
*How Miami sought redemption for recent high-profile bowl failures and ran the gauntlet through a tough schedule. Jimmy Johnson was finally a champion.
*Florida State’s surge to prominence. They lost just one game, a regular season thriller with Miami and the Seminoles started a long string of major bowl appearances.
*The paths of Oklahoma and Nebraska, who opened the season in the 1-2 poll spots, stayed there all the way until their November rivalry game and finally onto the bowls…where both came up short against their opponents from the Sunshine State.
These four teams might have shaped the season, but there were others that made it one to remember…
*Syracuse exploded, seemingly from nowhere, to an undefeated regular season behind a splendid year from quarterback Don McPherson. Read how the Orange became the new Beast of the East and their controversial ending in the Sugar Bowl.
*Lou Holtz returned Notre Dame to prominence. In his second season, Holtz got the Irish back onto the New Year’s Day stage. He also kept his team on the periphery of the national championship race until they ran out of steam at the end.
*Michigan State wrestled the Big Ten title away from the Michigan-Ohio State-Iowa troika that controlled it through the decade. The Spartans did with a fantastic defense.
*On the Pac-10 side of the race for the Rose Bowl, UCLA seemed in control right to the end with a quarterback named Troy Aikman pulling the trigger. Then, at the end, up jumped USC in a memorable regular season finale. \
*The SEC was an interesting race all year, with as many as six teams moving in and out of contention for the Sugar Bowl spot. LSU was the focal point early in the season, but Auburn emerged by the end.
*And the old Southwest Conference, that used to have the Cotton Bowl as its biggest prize, saw two big November games among the trio of Texas A&M, Arkansas and Texas.
Read about how the major awards shook out, a close look at all five major bowl games and a few of the notable minor ones. For those of us that lived through it, it’s a great way to stir up the memories. For younger readers, it’s a perfect way to see how the 1987 college football season looked as it was unfolding.