1986 College Football Recap
Miami and Penn State each finished the regular season at 11–0 and met in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship. It was the first No.1 vs No.2 clash between two independents since the last Army-Notre Dame showdown in 1946.
With neither team obligated to a particular bowl, bidding for the game among the lesser bowl committees was frenzied. The Fiesta Bowl (and NBC Sports) won by agreeing to double its payment to both teams (to $2.4 million each) and moving the game from New Year's Day afternoon to prime time on Jan.2.
On paper, No.1 Miami was the clear favorite. The Hurricanes had beaten defending national champ Oklahoma for the second time in two years and had Heisman-winner Vinny Testaverde at quarterback. In the hype that preceded the game, No.2 Penn State came off as being more bland than their uniforms.
No matter, the Lions' defense intercepted five Testaverde passes, held the Canes' 38-points-per-game offense to a touchdown and a field goal, and won 14–10.
Oklahoma, a 34–point winner over Arkansas in the Orange Bowl, placed third in the AP poll. The Sooners' 28–16 upset loss to Miami back in September was the season's other battle between No.1 and No.2.
Testaverde was a landslide winner in the Heisman vote, but gridiron throwback Gordie Lockbaum, a two-way junior at Division 1–AA Holy Cross, received enough support to come in fifth.