1970 college football season
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|1970 NCAA University Division football season|
|Total # of teams||123|
|Preseason AP #1||Ohio State Buckeyes|
|Number of bowls||11|
|Bowl games||December 12, 1970 – January 2, 1971|
|Champions||Nebraska Cornhuskers (AP, FWAA)
Texas Longhorns (Coaches, NFF)
Ohio State (NFF)
|Heisman||Jim Plunkett, Stanford QB|
The 1970 NCAA University Division football season was marked by tragedy, due to two airplane crashes. On October 2, one of the planes carrying the Wichita State football team crashed on the way to a game against Utah State, killing 31 people on board, including 14 players. Then, on November 14, the charter for the Marshall Thundering Herd crashed on the way home from a game against East Carolina, killing all 75 persons.
This was the first season the NCAA allowed schools to schedule 11 regular season games. Some took advantage by scheduling high-profile intersectional games (Stanford-Arkansas, USC-Alabama, LSU-Notre Dame), but others would not add the 11th game until later in the decade.
During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams, later known as "Division I-A." The NCAA Football Guide, however, did note an "unofficial national champion" based on the top ranked teams in the "wire service" (AP and UPI) polls. The "writers' poll" by Associated Press (AP) was the most popular, followed by the "coaches' poll" by United Press International) (UPI).
Until 1974, the UPI issued its final poll before the bowls, but beginning in 1968 (also 1965), the AP Trophy was withheld until the postseason was completed. The AP poll in 1970 consisted of the votes of as many as 52 sportswriters, though not all of them voted in every poll. Those who cast votes would give their opinion of the ten best teams. Under a point system of 20 points for first place, 19 for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined.
- 1 Rule changes
- 2 Conference and program changes
- 3 September
- 4 October
- 5 November
- 6 December
- 7 Conference standings
- 8 Bowl games
- 9 Other champions
- 10 Awards and honors
- 11 References
- Teams are allowed to schedule 11 regular season games, up from 10.
- Defensive pass interference is penalized from the spot of the foul, regardless if the pass was thrown or not. Previously, interference before the pass was thrown was a 15-yard penalty from the previous spot. This change would be repealed in the 1984 season.
- Also, defenders were not allowed to touch pass receivers if the receiver had caught up to them in their pattern or if it was obvious they were attempting to catch a pass.
- Cleat length is reduced from 3/4 inches to 1/2 inch.
Conference and program changes
|School||1969 Conference||1970 Conference|
|Boise State Broncos||NAIA Independent||Big Sky|
|Cal State Fullerton Titans||Program Established||CCAA|
|Cincinnati Bearcats||Missouri Valley||Independent|
|Northern Arizona Lumberjacks||Independent||Big Sky|
In the preseason poll released on September 7, Texas was placed #1 with 19 1st place votes. Ohio State and USC followed, with 7 and 6 votes, and Arkansas and Mississippi, each with a vote. USC beat Alabama 42–21 at Birmingham, and Arkansas lost to #10 Stanford 34–28 at Little Rock on September 12. In the poll that followed, Stanford took the place of Arkansas, while the rest of the Top 5 was the same: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.USC 4.Stanford 5.Mississippi.
September 19: Number 1 Texas won in Austin against California 56–15. In Los Angeles, #3 USC tied Nebraska 21–21. #4 Stanford beat San Jose State 34–3. #5 Mississippi opened with a 47–13 win at Memphis State. #7 Penn State, which had beaten Navy 55–7, reached the Top Five. Poll: 1.Ohio State 2.Texas 3.Stanford 4.Mississippi 5.Penn State
September 26: #1 Texas won in Lubbock over Texas Tech, 35–13. #2 Ohio State opened its season at home in Columbus, beating Texas A&M 56–13. #3 Stanford (in a battle between Jim Plunkett and Dan Fouts) won at Oregon 33–10. #4 Mississippi escaped a loss to Kentucky in Jackson, 20–17 and fell to 5th. #5 Penn State lost at Colorado 41–13. #7 USC returned to 6th place with a 48–0 win at Iowa. #6 Notre Dame, which had beaten Purdue 48–0, rose to 4th. The new poll was 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Stanford 4.Notre Dame 5.Mississippi 6. USC.
October 3: #1 Texas squeaked by UCLA at home 20–17 on a touchdown in the last 20 seconds. #2 Ohio State beat Duke at home 34–10. #3 Stanford lost to Purdue 26–14. #4 Notre Dame beat Michigan State in East Lansing, 29–0. #4 Mississippi earned a 48-23 win in Jackson over Alabama. #5 USC beat visiting Oregon State 45–13 Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Notre Dame 4.Mississippi 5.USC
October 10: #1 Texas defeated Oklahoma in Dallas, 41–9. #2 Ohio State beat Michigan State in East Lansing, 29–0. #3 Notre Dame beat Army at home, 51–10. #4 Mississippi won at Georgia 31–21. #5 USC lost at Stanford 24–14. #6 Nebraska, which had tied USC earlier, rose to fifth after its 21–7 win over Missouri gave it a 4–0–1 record. Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Notre Dame 4.Mississippi 5.Nebraska
October 17: #1 Texas was idle. #2 Ohio State beat Minnesota at home, 28–8. #3 Notre Dame won at Missouri, 24–7. #4 Mississippi lost at home in Oxford to Southern Mississippi, 30–14. #5 Nebraska won at Kansas 41–20. #6 Michigan, which had beaten Michigan State 34–20 at home to reach 5–0, got into the top five. Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Notre Dame 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan
October 24: #1 Texas defeated Rice 45–21 in Houston. #2 Ohio State won at Illinois 48–29. #3 Notre Dame was idle. #4 Nebraska beat Oklahoma State 65–31. #5 Michigan beat Minnesota 39-13 at home. Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Notre Dame 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan
October 31: #1 Texas beat SMU at home 42–15. #2 Ohio State beat Northwestern 24–10. #3 Notre Dame defeated Navy 56–7 in Philadelphia. #4 Nebraska won at Colorado 29–13. #5 Michigan won at Wisconsin 29–15. Despite reaching 6–0, Ohio State dropped to #3. The poll was : 1.Texas 2.Notre Dame 3.Ohio State 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan
November 7 #1 Texas won at Baylor 21-14. #2 Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh 46-14 at home. #3 Ohio State won at Wisconsin 24-7. #4 Nebraska won at Iowa State 54-29. #5 Michigan beat visiting Illinois 42-0. Notre Dame took over the top spot from Texas. Poll: 1.Notre Dame 2.Texas 3.Ohio State 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan
November 14 #1 Notre Dame survived visiting Georgia Tech, 10-7, and lost its top ranking. #2 Texas, which won at Texas Christian, 58-0, returned to #1. #3 Ohio State eked out a win at Purdue 10-7 . #4 Nebraska beat visiting Kansas State 51-13, and #5 Michigan shut out Iowa 55-0. . Poll: 1.Texas 2.Notre Dame 3.Ohio State 4.Nebraska 5.Michigan
November 21 As #1 Texas prepared for a Thanksgiving Day game, #2 Notre Dame won, but just barely, beating visiting LSU 3-0. #3 Ohio State finished its season with a 20-9 win in Columbus over #5 Michigan to go to the Rose Bowl. #4 Nebraska beat Oklahoma 28-21 at home to finish its season unbeaten. Arkansas won at Texas Tech 24-10, to reach the Top Five.
Poll: 1.Texas 2.Notre Dame3.Ohio State 4.Nebraska 5.Arkansas
On Thanksgiving Day, #1 Texas beat Texas A & M at home 52-14 to reach 9-0-0. That Saturday, November 28 #2 Notre Dame lost to USC in Los Angeles, 38-28, despite over 500 passing yards by quarterback Joe Theismann in a torrential downpour. #4 Nebraska and Arkansas were idle. #7 Tennessee, which had beaten Vanderbilt 24-6 in Nashville to finish its season at 9-1-0, rose to fifth in the poll. LSU defeated Tulane 26-14 at New Orleans to keep its hopes of an Orange Bowl berth alive. The Tigers still needed to defeat Ole Miss December 5. The 7-4 Green Wave were invited to the Liberty Bowl to play Colorado.
The poll was: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Nebraska 4.Arkansas 5.Tennessee.
December 5 #1 Texas beat Arkansas at Austin 42-7 to close a perfect season at 10-0-0, running its winning streak to 30 and clinching the UPI national championship for the Longhorns. LSU crushed Ole Miss 61-17 at Baton Rouge to clinch the Southeastern Conference championship and rise into the top 5.
Poll: 1.Texas 2.Ohio State 3.Nebraska 4.Tennessee 5.LSU
The following is an incomplete list of conference standings:
|Cotton||#6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish||24||#1 Texas Longhorns||11|
|Orange||#3 Nebraska Cornhuskers||17||#5 LSU Tigers||12|
|Sugar||#4 Tennessee Volunteers||28||#11 Air Force Falcons||13|
|Rose||#12 Stanford Indians*||27||#2 Ohio State Buckeyes||17|
|*Stanford changed its nickname to the "Cardinals" in 1972 and the singular "Cardinal" in 1981.|
In the Cotton Bowl, #6 Notre Dame gained revenge for its narrow defeat to #1 Texas in the previous year's Cotton Bowl by upsetting the #1 Longhorns, 24–11. Notre Dame Head coach Ara Parseghian created a "wishbone defense", positioning his linebackers to mirror the Texas running backs and the Irish held the high-powered Texas running game in check.
In Pasadena, #2 Ohio State, the Big Ten champions, were positioned to claim the national championship as they took the field as heavy favorites against 8–3 #12 Stanford of the Pac-8. The Buckeyes overcame a 10–0 early deficit to take a 14–10 lead on two touchdowns by John Brockington. OSU was still ahead 17–13 after three quarters. But Stanford's Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to stun Ohio State 27-17.
With the door open, #3 Nebraska of the Big 8 seized the opportunity that night in Miami in the Orange Bowl against stubborn #5 LSU of the SEC. Down 12-10 after three quarters, the Huskers scored a fourth-quarter touchdown and shut down the Tigers to prevail 17–12 on the new Poly-Turf and claim the national title. Nebraska took 39 of the 52 first place votes in the final AP Poll, while Notre Dame received eight, Texas three, and Arizona State (11–0) two.
- Nebraska 946 (39), 11–0–1
- Notre Dame 814 (8), 10–1
- Texas 721 (3), 10–1
- Tennessee 683, 11–1
- Ohio State 588, 9–1
|Sun||El Paso||Georgia Tech||17||Texas Tech||9|
|Tangerine||Orlando||Toledo||40||William & Mary||12|
|Peach||Atlanta||Arizona State||48||North Carolina||26|
|Pasadena||Pasadena||Long Beach State||24||Louisville (tie)||24|
Prior to 1973, the NCAA was divided into two divisions, University and College. College Division teams (also referred to as "small college") were ranked in polls by the AP (a panel of writers) and by UPI (coaches). The national champion(s) for each season were determined by the final poll rankings, published at or near the end of the regular season, before any bowl games were played.
College Division final polls
In 1970, both UPI and AP ranked the Arkansas State Indians (10–0) number one. The 34 coaches on the UPI board ranked Tampa second, followed by Montana, while the AP panel ranked Montana second, followed by North Dakota State. Arkansas State went on to beat Central Missouri State in the Pecan Bowl, 38–21, while Montana lost to North Dakota State in the Camellia Bowl, 31–16.
United Press International (coaches) final poll
Includes NAIA playoff win.
College Division bowls
The postseason consisted of four bowls as regional finals, all played on December 12.
|Bowl||Region||Location||Winning team||Losing team||Ref|
|Boardwalk||East||Atlantic City, NJ||Delaware||38||Morgan State||23|||
|Grantland Rice||Mideast||Baton Rouge, LA||Tennessee State||26||Southwestern Louisiana||25|||
|Pecan||Midwest||Arlington, TX||Arkansas State||38||Central Missouri State||21|||
|Camellia||West||Sacramento, CA||North Dakota State||31||Montana||16|||
In the NAIA playoffs, Texas A & I beat Wofford 48–7 (Division I) and Westminster beat Anderson 21–16 (Division II).
Minor conference champions
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2016)|
|Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Adrian
Awards and honors
Heisman Trophy voting
The Heisman Trophy is given to the year's most outstanding player.
- Winner: Jim Plunkett, QB - Stanford, 2,229 points
- Joe Theismann, QB - Notre Dame, 1,410 points
- Archie Manning, QB - Mississippi, 849 points
- Steve Worster, FB - Texas, 398 points
- Rex Kern, QB - Ohio State, 188 points
- Pat Sullivan, QB - Auburn, 180 points - (only junior in top 10)
- Jack Tatum, DB - Ohio State, 173 points
- Ernie Jennings, WR - Air Force, 118 points
- Don McCauley, RB - North Carolina, 57 points
- Lynn Dickey, QB - Kansas State, 49 points
- 1970 Consensus All-America Team
- Player scoring most points: Don McCauley, North Carolina, 126
- "Grid squads get 11 games". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 15, 1970. p. 14.
- Smilanich, Steve (September 11, 1970). "11th games add drama to season". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). UPI. p. 4B.
- "1970 Atlantic Coast Conference Year Summary". sports-reference.com. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- "Bucks Go Ker-Plunk, 27-17," Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach), January 2, 1971, p C-1
- Thomas, Ben (January 5, 1971). "Nebraska wins the vote as nation's best college club". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. p. 3-B.
- "Arkansas State Wins Small College Crown," European Stars and Stripes, Dec. 3, 1970, p22
- "No. 1 Reflects Program At Arkansas St.," The Bee (Danville, VA), Dec. 3, 1970, p13
- "Top-rated grid team wins bowl". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 13, 1970. p. 3, sports.
- UPI (December 2, 1970). . The Pantagraph. Bloomington, Illinois. Retrieved February 22, 2017 – via newspapers.com.
- AP (December 3, 1970). . The News-Press. Fort Myers, Florida. Retrieved February 22, 2017 – via newspapers.com.
- AP (December 4, 1970). . The Tennessean. Nashville, Tennessee. Retrieved February 22, 2017 – via newspapers.com.
- "Bentson-led Bisons defeat Montana 31-16 in Camellia". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 13, 1970. p. 1, sports.
- Heisman.com - 1970 Heisman - Jim Plunkett