1987 NCAA Division I-A season
Reagan with Miami Hurricanes football team 1988.jpg
President Ronald Reagan holds up a University of Miami jersey presented to him by Miami Hurricanes head coach Jimmy Johnson and the 1987 Miami Hurricanes football team after winning the 1987 national championship
Number of teams104
Preseason AP No. 1Oklahoma[1]
Post-season
Bowl games18
Heisman TrophyTim Brown (wide receiver, Notre Dame)
Champion(s)Miami (FL) (AP, Coaches, FWAA)
Division I-A football seasons
← 1986
1988 →

The 1987 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Miami winning its second national championship of the 1980s in an Orange Bowl game featuring a rare No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup between the top ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the Hurricanes.

Miami's first three games were against ranked opponents in what was labeled a rebuilding year. After some late game theatrics by Michael Irvin against rival Florida State, the Hurricanes were 3–0, the national media started to take notice.

Oklahoma was also seen as quite the juggernaut, averaging 428.8 yards rushing per game with their potent wishbone offense. Miami was able to hold Oklahoma to just 179 yards on the ground, winning the game 20–14.

Also having notable seasons were Syracuse, LSU and Florida State. Syracuse finished the season 11–0–1 and ranked No. 4 after a controversial Sugar Bowl game in which Auburn kicked a late field goal to end the game in a tie. LSU went 10–1–1, ending the season ranked No. 5. This was LSU's first ten win season in 26 years and their highest ranking since 1961.

Florida State finished ranked No. 2, their only loss to Miami, and began a streak of 14 years where FSU finished in the top 5. The Seminoles beat Rose Bowl champion Michigan State and SEC champion Auburn on the road and beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

This would be the first of two years SMU would not field a team due to the NCAA's death penalty.

Rule changes

Conference and program changes

The loss of Wichita State and SMU and the gain of Akron decreased the number of teams to 104.

School 1986 Conference 1987 Conference
Akron Zips Ohio Valley (I-AA) I-A Independent
Wichita State Shockers I-A Independent Program Dropped

Conference standings

1987 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 12 Clemson $ 6 1 0 10 2 0
Virginia 5 2 0 8 4 0
Wake Forest 4 3 0 7 4 0
NC State 4 3 0 4 7 0
Maryland 3 3 0 4 7 0
North Carolina 3 4 0 5 6 0
Duke 2 5 0 5 6 0
Georgia Tech 0 6 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1987 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 3 Oklahoma $ 7 0 0 11 1 0
No. 6 Nebraska 6 1 0 10 2 0
No. 11 Oklahoma State 5 2 0 10 2 0
Colorado 4 3 0 7 4 0
Missouri 3 4 0 5 6 0
Iowa State 2 5 0 3 8 0
Kansas 0 6 1 1 9 1
Kansas State 0 6 1 0 10 1
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1987 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 8 Michigan State $ 7 0 1 9 2 1
No. 16 Iowa 6 2 0 10 3 0
Indiana 6 2 0 8 4 0
No. 19 Michigan 5 3 0 8 4 0
Ohio State 4 4 0 6 4 1
Minnesota 3 5 0 6 5 0
Purdue 3 5 0 3 7 1
Illinois 2 5 1 3 7 1
Northwestern 2 6 0 2 8 1
Wisconsin 1 7 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1987 Mid-American football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
Eastern Michigan $ 7 1 0 10 2 0
Kent State 5 3 0 7 4 0
Miami 5 3 0 5 6 0
Bowling Green 5 3 0 5 6 0
Western Michigan 4 4 0 5 6 0
Central Michigan 3 4 1 5 5 1
Toledo 3 4 1 3 7 1
Ball State 3 5 0 4 7 0
Ohio 0 8 0 1 10 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1987 Pacific Coast Athletic Association football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
San Jose State $ 7 0 0 10 2 0
Fresno State 4 3 0 6 5 0
Cal State Fullerton 4 3 0 6 6 0
UNLV 4 3 0 5 6 0
Utah State 4 3 0 5 6 0
Pacific (CA) 3 4 0 4 7 0
Long Beach State 2 5 0 4 7 0
New Mexico State 0 7 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1987 Pacific-10 Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 18 USC + 7 1 0 8 4 0
No. 9 UCLA + 7 1 0 10 2 0
Washington 4 3 1 7 4 1
No. 20 Arizona State 3 3 1 7 4 1
Oregon 4 4 0 6 5 0
Stanford 4 4 0 5 6 0
Arizona 2 3 3 4 4 3
California 2 3 2 3 6 2
Washington State 1 5 1 3 7 1
Oregon State 0 7 0 2 9 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1987 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 7 Auburn $ 5 0 1 9 1 2
No. 5 LSU 5 1 0 10 1 1
No. 14 Tennessee 4 1 1 10 2 1
No. 13 Georgia 4 2 0 9 3 0
Alabama 4 2 0 7 5 0
Florida 3 3 0 6 6 0
Kentucky 1 5 0 5 6 0
Mississippi State 1 5 0 4 7 0
Vanderbilt 1 5 0 4 7 0
Ole Miss 1 5 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1987 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 10 Texas A&M $ 6 1 0 10 2 0
Arkansas 5 2 0 9 4 0
Texas 5 2 0 7 5 0
Texas Tech 3 3 1 6 4 1
Baylor 3 4 0 6 5 0
TCU 3 4 0 5 6 0
Houston 2 4 1 4 6 1
Rice 0 8 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1987 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
Wyoming $ 8 0 0 10 3 0
BYU 7 1 0 9 4 0
Air Force 6 2 0 9 4 0
UTEP 5 3 0 7 4 0
San Diego State 4 4 0 5 7 0
Hawaii 3 5 0 5 7 0
Utah 2 6 0 5 7 0
Colorado State 1 7 0 1 11 0
New Mexico 0 8 0 0 11 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1987 NCAA Division I-A independents football records
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 1 Miami (FL)       12 0 0
No. 4 Syracuse       11 0 1
No. 2 Florida State       11 1 0
No. 15 South Carolina       8 4 0
Pittsburgh       8 4 0
Penn State       8 4 0
No. 17 Notre Dame       8 4 0
Southern Miss       6 5 0
Rutgers       6 5 0
Southwestern Louisiana       6 5 0
Memphis State       5 5 1
Northern Illinois       5 5 1
West Virginia       6 6 0
Tulane       6 6 0
Army       5 6 0
Boston College       5 6 0
East Carolina       5 6 0
Akron       4 7 0
Cincinnati       4 7 0
Louisville       3 7 1
Temple       3 8 0
Tulsa       3 8 0
Virginia Tech       2 9 0
Navy       2 9 0
Rankings from AP Poll

Season summary

September

The preseason AP Poll ranked Big 8 rivals Oklahoma and Nebraska at No. 1 and No. 2, followed by No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 Ohio State, and No. 5 Auburn.

September 5: No. 1 Oklahoma beat North Texas State 69-14, No. 2 Nebraska defeated Utah State 56-12, and No. 3 UCLA won 47-14 over San Diego State. No. 4 Ohio State was idle. No. 5 Auburn overwhelmed Texas 31-3 and moved up in the next poll: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 Auburn, and No. 5 Ohio State.

September 12: No. 1 Oklahoma shut out North Carolina 28-0. No. 2 Nebraska hosted No. 3 UCLA and won 42-33. No. 4 Auburn blanked Kansas 49-0. No. 5 Ohio State opened their schedule with a 24-3 win over West Virginia, and No. 6 LSU (who had easily defeated No. 15 Texas A&M in their opener) beat Cal State Fullerton 56-12. The next poll featured No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 LSU, and No. 5 Ohio State.

September 19: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, and No. 3 Auburn were all idle. No. 4 LSU beat Rice 49-16. No. 5 Ohio State defeated Oregon 24-14 but fell out of the top five in the next poll. They were replaced by No. 6 Miami, who was idle this week but had started the year with an impressive 31-4 blowout of then-No. 20 Florida. The poll featured No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 LSU, and No. 5 Miami.

September 26: No. 1 Oklahoma won in a second consecutive shutout, 65-0 over Tulsa. No. 2 Nebraska visited No. 12 Arizona State and defeated the Sun Devils 35-28. No. 3 Auburn played No. 11 Tennessee to a 20-20 tie. No. 4 LSU had the same result, as they threw three fourth-quarter interceptions which allowed No. 7 Ohio State to come away with a 13-13 draw. No. 5 Miami overwhelmed No. 10 Arkansas 51-7, No. 6 Florida State won 31-3 at Michigan State, and No. 8 Notre Dame was a 44-20 victor over Purdue. The next poll featured No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Miami, No. 4 Florida State, and No. 5 Notre Dame.

October

October 3: No. 1 Oklahoma won 56-3 at Iowa State, and No. 2 Nebraska beat South Carolina 30-21. No. 3 Miami and No. 4 Florida State squared off in a game which featured 63 future NFL players. The Seminoles led 19-3 late in the third quarter, but the Hurricanes responded with 23 unanswered points to take a seven-point lead. After Florida State scored a touchdown with 42 seconds left, coach Bobby Bowden sent out his kicker for a game-tying extra point, but changed his mind at the last moment and called for a two-point conversion. Quarterback Danny McManus’ pass was deflected, giving Miami a 26-25 victory. No. 5 Notre Dame was idle, and No. 6 Auburn bounced back with a 20-10 win at North Carolina. The next poll featured No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Miami, No. 4 Notre Dame, and No. 5 Auburn.

October 10: No. 1 Oklahoma held their opponent without a touchdown for the fourth game in a row, limiting Texas to three field goals in a 44-9 triumph. No. 2 Nebraska was similarly dominant, beating Kansas 54-2. No. 3 Miami defeated Maryland 46-16, but No. 4 Notre Dame lost 30-22 at Pittsburgh. No. 5 Auburn won 48-15 over Vanderbilt, and No. 6 Florida State visited Southern Mississippi for a 61-10 win. The next poll featured No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Miami, No. 4 Florida State, and No. 5 Auburn.

October 17: No. 1 Oklahoma won 59-10 at Kansas State, and No. 2 Nebraska shut out No. 12 Oklahoma State 35-0. No. 3 Miami was idle, and No. 4 Florida State defeated Louisville 32-9. No. 5 Auburn won 20-10 at Georgia Tech, but the AP voters were more impressed with No. 6 LSU’s 34-9 victory over Kentucky, and the teams switched spots in the next poll: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Miami, No. 4 Florida State, and No. 5 LSU.

October 24: No. 1 Oklahoma defeated Colorado 24-6, No. 2 Nebraska dominated Kansas State 56-3, and No. 3 Miami won 48-10 at Cincinnati. No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 LSU were idle, and the top five remained the same.

October 31: All of the highly-ranked teams registered blowout wins this week. No. 1 Oklahoma crushed Kansas 71-10, No. 2 Nebraska won 42-7 at Missouri, No. 3 Miami beat East Carolina 41-3, No. 4 Florida State dominated Tulane 73-14, and No. 5 LSU defeated Mississippi 42-13. The top five again remained the same.

November-December

November 7: No. 1 Oklahoma hosted No. 12 Oklahoma State and won 29-10, but quarterback Jamelle Holieway was lost for the season with a torn ACL, and fullback Lydell Carr also suffered a knee injury. No. 2 Nebraska overwhelmed Iowa State 42-3. The name was the only similarity between No. 3 Miami-Florida and unranked Miami-Ohio, as the Hurricanes defeated the Redskins 54-3. No. 4 Florida State visited No. 6 Auburn and breezed to a 34-6 victory. Auburn’s SEC rival, No. 5 LSU, fell 22-10 to No. 13 Alabama. No. 7 UCLA, whose only loss was to Nebraska, won 52-17 at Oregon State. The top five in the next poll were No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Miami, No. 4 Florida State, and No. 5 UCLA.

November 14: Without Holieway and Carr, No. 1 Oklahoma struggled to a 17-13 victory over Missouri. No. 2 Nebraska, who had defeated Missouri by 35 points a few weeks earlier, was idle. No. 3 Miami beat Virginia Tech 27-13, No. 4 Florida State defeated Furman 41-10, and No. 5 UCLA won 47-14 over Washington. The top two teams switched spots in the next poll: No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Miami, No. 4 Florida State, and No. 5 UCLA.

November 21: In what was effectively a semifinal for the national championship, No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 Oklahoma met to decide the Big 8 title and an Orange Bowl berth. Despite their injuries, the Sooners finished an undefeated regular season with a 17-7 victory, their fourth win in as many years over the Cornhuskers. No. 3 Miami defeated Toledo 24-14, while No. 4 Florida State was idle. No. 5 UCLA needed only a win over unranked USC to gain the Pac-10 title, but the Trojans pulled off a 17-13 upset to earn the Rose Bowl berth. Their opponent would be No. 11 Michigan State, who had already clinched the Big Ten championship. No. 6 Syracuse won a thriller against West Virginia, triumphing 32-31 on a two-point conversion with ten seconds left to finish the regular season undefeated. The top five in the next poll were No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Miami, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Syracuse, and No. 5 Nebraska.

November 26-28: No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 4 Syracuse had finished their seasons. No. 2 Miami shut out No. 10 Notre Dame 24-0, No. 3 Florida State won 28-14 at Florida, and No. 5 Nebraska beat Colorado 24-7. The last few bowl tie-ins were decided this week: No. 7 Auburn’s 10-0 shutout of No. 18 Alabama in the Iron Bowl gave the Tigers the SEC title and a Sugar Bowl berth, while No. 15 Texas A&M won the SWC and a spot in the Cotton Bowl with a 20-13 defeat of Texas. The top five remained the same in the next poll.

December 5: No. 2 Miami ended their season undefeated with a 20-16 win over No. 8 South Carolina. The other top-ranked teams had already finished their schedules, and the top five remained the same in the final poll of the regular season.

With both teams possessing 11-0 records, the Orange Bowl between No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Miami would decide the national championship. Over the past three years, the Sooners were 0-2 against the Hurricanes and 33-0 against all other opponents, and they would have the opportunity for revenge on the biggest stage. No. 4 Syracuse, also undefeated but without a clear path to the championship, would face No. 6 Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. No. 3 Florida State and No. 5 Nebraska (whose only losses were to Miami and Oklahoma respectively) would match up in the Fiesta Bowl. The Rose Bowl featured the usual Big Ten/Pac-10 matchup of No. 8 Michigan State and No. 16 USC, while the Cotton Bowl pitted No. 12 Notre Dame against No. 13 Texas A&M.

Notable rivalry games

Bowl games

Main article: 1987–88 NCAA football bowl games

Polls

Main article: 1987 NCAA Division I-A football rankings

Final AP Poll

  1. Miami (FL)
  2. Florida State
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Syracuse
  5. LSU
  6. Nebraska
  7. Auburn
  8. Michigan State
  9. UCLA
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Oklahoma State
  12. Clemson
  13. Georgia
  14. Tennessee
  15. South Carolina
  16. Iowa
  17. Notre Dame
  18. Southern California
  19. Michigan
  20. Arizona State

Final Coaches Poll

  1. Miami (FL)
  2. Florida State
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Syracuse
  5. LSU
  6. Nebraska
  7. Auburn
  8. Michigan State
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Clemson
  11. UCLA
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. Tennessee
  14. Georgia
  15. South Carolina
  16. Iowa
  17. Southern California
  18. Michigan
  19. Texas
  20. Indiana

Awards

Heisman Trophy

  1. Winner: Tim Brown, Notre Dame, Sr. WR (1,442 points)
  2. Don McPherson, Syracuse, Sr. QB (831)
  3. Gordie Lockbaum, Holy Cross, Sr. TB (657)
  4. Lorenzo White, Michigan State, Sr. TB (632)
  5. Craig Heyward, Pittsburgh, Jr. RB (170)
  6. Chris Spielman, Ohio State, Sr. LB (110)
  7. Thurman Thomas, Oklahoma State, Sr. RB (99)
  8. Gaston Green, UCLA, Sr. RB (73)
  9. Emmitt Smith, Florida, Fr. RB (70)
  10. Bobby Humphrey, Alabama, Jr. RB (63)
Source:[2][3]

Other major awards

References

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2009-01-02.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Greene, Bob (December 6, 1987). "Heisman is won by Tim Brown". Gainesville Sun. (Florida). Associated Press. p. 1E.
  3. ^ "Heisman voting". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). December 6, 1987. p. 2F.