1988 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

Notre Dame returned to the top of the heap after 11 years in 1988, going 12–0 to claim the national championship for a record eighth time since the AP poll began in 1936.

The Irish clinched the title by beating No.3 West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl, but it was regular season victories over defending champ Miami and Southern Cal that made them the top-ranked team.

Miami was No.1 and Notre Dame No.4 when they met in South Bend on Oct.15. The Irish held a 31–21 lead in the third quarter, but the Hurricanes rallied to within 31–30 on a touchdown with 45 seconds left in the game. The Canes went for the two-point conversion and missed.

Six weeks later, No.1 Notre Dame visited No.2 USC at the L.A. Coliseum (burial ground for many highly-regarded Irish teams). This time, however, it was N.D. that did the burying, 27–10.

Miami and Florida State, last year's Top Two, both finished at 11–1 to place second and third. In the season opener for both, the Hurricanes crushed the Seminoles 31–0, despite the fact that FSU was nearly everyone's preseason favorite for No.1.

The star of the year was Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders, who came out of nowhere and with no fanfare to shatter the NCAA single season records for rushing yards (2,628) and touchdowns (39) and run away with the Heisman Trophy.

Finally, Columbia snapped its record Division 1 losing streak at 44, beating Princeton, 16–13, on Oct.8.

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