1976 College Football Recap
In the 40–odd years of the Heisman Trophy, the AFCA Coach of the Year award and the AP Top 20, no one team had won all three in the same season until Pittsburgh did it in 1976.
Led by record-breaking running back Tony Dorsett and coach Johnny Majors, Pitt was 11–0 during the regular season and a 27–3 victor over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. It was the Panthers' first major bowl appearance since 1955, their first national championship since 1937, and their first unbeaten and untied season since 1917.
Dorsett had a remarkable season, rushing for 1,948 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns. He ended his four years with 6,082 yards and 356 points, both NCAA records. Coach Majors also worked some magic over four years, inheriting a program that had gone 1–10 in 1972 and guiding it to a 33–13–1 record.
Michigan's spirit was tested in '76. A solid No.1 choice in the polls through October, the Wolverines were upset 16–14 by Purdue in early November. They recovered to beat Ohio State for the Big Ten championship, went back to the Rose Bowl for the first time in five years, then lost to Southern Cal, 14–6.
In the Southwest Conference, Houston won a trip to the Cotton Bowl in its first year as a league member. The Cougars tied for the title with Texas Tech, but had beaten the Red Raiders during the season. On New Year's Day, Houston was in Dallas to complete its improbable year in with a 30–21 victory over unbeaten Maryland.
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