1982 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

Penn State finally got a shot at a “winner take all” game for the national championship in 1982 and won it.

Facing top-ranked and undefeated Georgia in a No.1 vs No.2 Sugar Bowl match-up, the Lions led from the start and upset the Dawgs, 27–23.

A loser to only Alabama (42–21) during the regular season, PSU's climb to the top came after 17 years and 162 victories under Joe Paterno. It was a frustrating wait. Three other years they had gone 11–1 and nobody seemed to notice. This year, they stopped Heisman-winner Herschel Walker & Co. and everybody noticed.

Southern Methodist was the only undefeated team in the Top 20 and ranked second. The Mustangs won their second straight SWC championship, returned to the Cotton Bowl for the first time in 16 years, and beat Pitt. Nebraska won 12 games, the Big Eight and the Orange Bowl to place third. The Huskers' only loss came on a last second field goal against Penn State.

The Play of the Year? Easy: California's last second, “kickoff return to beat the band” against Stanford. Bears won 25–20.

Meanwhile, Alabama (8–4) finished out of the Top 20 for the first time in 11 seasons, but won the Liberty Bowl. The victory pushed Bear Bryant's 38–year record to 323–85–17. He died less than a month later.

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