1978 College Football Recap

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Final AP Top 20

Bowl Games with Top 20 Teams

Div. 1–A Conference Champs

Heisman Trophy Voting

Other Major Award Winners

Consensus All-America Team

Thirteen years removed from its last national championship, Alabama climbed back to the top of the final AP poll in 1978.

No.1 played No.2 for only the third time in the 1970s when the Crimson Tide upset top-ranked Penn State, 14–7, in the Sugar Bowl.

However, UPI's coaches disagreed with AP's writers and picked Southern Cal as the best team, citing USC's 24–14 victory over Bama during the regular season. Both teams had one defeat, the Trojans losing early in the year to new Pac-10 member Arizona State.

Oklahoma got the third place nod from both wire services. In the annual “brawl for it all” in the Big Eight, OU lost to Nebraska 17–14, giving Husker coach Tom Osborne his first win over Barry Switzer. The next week, however, Nebraska lost to Missouri while the Sooners were clobbering Oklahoma State. A Sooner-Husker rematch was called for and arranged in the Orange Bowl where the Switzers beat the Osbornes, 31–24.

Defending champion Notre Dame dropped its first two games of the season to Missouri and Michigan, won eight straight, then lost to Southern Cal 27–25 on a last second field goal. The Irish rebounded in an icy Cotton Bowl game, however, and scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to catch Houston, 35–34.

In the Big Ten, Michigan beat Ohio State and lost the Rose Bowl for the third year in a row, while Buckeye coach Woody Hayes was forced to retire after hitting a Clemson player in the Gator Bowl. Hayes walked away with 238 career wins and two national titles.

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