1988 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1988 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Notre Dame winning the national championship. The Fighting Irish won the title via a 34-21 defeat of previously unbeaten West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. With 4 of the final Top 5 teams being independents (with the University of Miami and Florida State joining the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers), 1988 became a focus for fans and critics who wondered how the traditional conferences would deal with the indies (the answer ultimately involved all of these teams joining major conferences).
|1988 NCAA Division I-A season|
|Number of teams||104|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Florida State Seminoles|
|Heisman Trophy||Barry Sanders Oklahoma State RB|
|Winner||Notre Dame Fighting Irish|
|Division I-A football seasons|
Notre Dame had several notable victories this season, including a 19–17 victory over #9 Michigan, won on a last drive field goal, which started off the championship season. The season's marquee game was a 31–30 victory over #1 Miami. Entering the game, Miami had a 36-game regular season winning streak, 20 straight road victories and a 16-game winning streak overall. This year was also the first time Notre Dame and USC had ever met when ranked #1 and #2. Most notable about this game is Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz's decision to leave behind two of his stars, Tony Brooks and Ricky Watters because they were late, cementing discipline as the main theme of this championship team.
This year's edition of the UCLA–USC rivalry game featured a second ranked USC and a fourth ranked UCLA. For the second year in a row the Rose Bowl berth was on the line but for USC it also had national title implications as the rivalry game with Notre Dame was the following week. USC beat UCLA but lost to Notre Dame, and then lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
- Defensive teams can now return blocked PAT kicks and interceptions on two-point conversion attempts for a defensive score worth two points. Fumbles on PAT/two-point conversions cannot be recovered and advanced by the offensive team other than the fumbling player, and the defense cannot convert fumbles into two point defensive scores.
- Teams are permitted to take consecutive time-outs, previously this was prohibited.
- Illegal use of hands penalties are increased from 5 to 10 yards.
Conference and program changes
- The Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA) changed its name to the Big West Conference, its current name, prior to the season.
#1 and #2 progress
|PRE||Florida State||Nebraska||Miami 31, Florida St. 0||Sep 3|
|1||Miami||Nebraska||UCLA 41, Nebraska 28||Sep 10|
|2-6||Miami||UCLA||Notre Dame 31, Miami 30||Oct 15|
|7-8||UCLA||Notre Dame||Washington St. 34, UCLA 30||Oct 29|
|9-12||Notre Dame||USC||Notre Dame 27, USC 10||Nov 26|
|13-14||Notre Dame||Miami||Notre Dame 34, West Virginia 21||Jan 1|
- Rose Bowl: #11 Michigan 22, #5 USC 14
- Sugar Bowl: #4 Florida State 13, #7 Auburn 7
- Cotton Bowl Classic: #9 UCLA 17, #8 Arkansas 3
- Fiesta Bowl: #1 Notre Dame 34, #3 West Virginia 21
- Florida Citrus Bowl: #13 Clemson 13, #10 Oklahoma 6
- Orange Bowl: #2 Miami (FL) 23, #6 Nebraska 3
- Hall of Fame Bowl: #17 Syracuse 23, #16 LSU 10
- Gator Bowl: #19 Georgia 34, Michigan State 27
- Sun Bowl: #20 Alabama 29, Army 28
- Holiday Bowl: #12 Oklahoma State 62, #15 Wyoming 14
- Freedom Bowl: BYU 20, Colorado 17
- Peach Bowl: NC State 28, Iowa 23
- All-American Bowl: Florida 14, Illinois 10
- Liberty Bowl: Indiana 34, South Carolina 10
- Aloha Bowl: #18 Washington State 24, #14 Houston 22
- Independence Bowl: Southern Miss 38, UTEP 18
- California Bowl: Fresno State 35, Western Michigan 30
Final AP Poll
Other major awards
- Maxwell (Player): Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State
- Camp (Back): Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State
- Davey O'Brien Award (QB): Troy Aikman, UCLA
- Rockne (Lineman): N/A
- Lombardi (Linebacker): Tracy Rocker, Auburn
- Outland (Interior): Tracy Rocker, Auburn
- Coach of the Year: Don Nehlen, West Virginia
- Leon Moore, David (2005-12-03). "L.A. is capital of football for a day". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "What was the greatest Fighting Irish football game in the history of Notre Dame Stadium?". Retrieved 2005-08-29.
- Wood, Bob (Robert) (1989). Big Ten country : a journey through one football season. Morrow. ISBN 0-688-08922-4.