|2016 NCAA Division I FBS season|
|Number of teams||128|
|Duration||August 26, 2016 – December 10, 2016|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Alabama|
|Duration||December 17, 2016 – January 9, 2017|
|AP Poll No. 1||Clemson|
|Coaches Poll No. 1||Clemson|
|Heisman Trophy||Lamar Jackson (quarterback, Louisville)|
|College Football Playoff|
|2017 College Football Playoff National Championship|
|Site||Raymond James Stadium|
|NCAA Division I FBS football seasons|
The 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football season was the highest level of college football competition in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The regular season began on August 26, 2016 and ended on December 10, 2016. The postseason concluded on January 9, 2017 with the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship, where the Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide to claim their second national title in school history. The championship game was a rematch of the 2016 edition won by Alabama.
The following rule changes were voted on by the NCAA Football Rules Committee for the 2016 season:
The committee, once again, took no action on changing the ineligible receiver downfield rule from three yards to one yard; however it will once again be a "point of emphasis" and will adjust officiating mechanics to better officiate those plays.
|School||Former conference||New conference|
Although Coastal Carolina began the transition process to FBS in the 2016 season and joined the Sun Belt Conference in non-football sports, it was officially classified as an FCS independent for this first season of the transition. Coastal Carolina became a provisional FBS member when the football team joined the Sun Belt in 2017, and full FBS membership and bowl eligibility followed in 2018.
Rankings reflect the AP Poll. Rankings for Week 10 and beyond will list College Football Playoff Rankings first and AP Poll second. Teams that fail to be a top 10 team for one poll or the other will be noted.
In the first full weekend of the season, seven teams ranked in the AP Poll lost, the most in an opening week since the debut of the AP preseason poll in 1950. The seven ranked losers included two top-five teams; the last time two such teams had lost in the season's first week was 1972. The weekend also saw seven SEC teams lose their season openers, which had not happened since the league returned to 12 teams with the 1992 arrival of Arkansas and South Carolina.[n 2] One of those loses saw South Alabama defeat Mississippi State 21-20 as a 28-point underdog, which was the biggest FPI upset in the last 5 seasons (2.3% chance to win before the match).
On September 10, a finish noted for its improbability happened when Central Michigan defeated Oklahoma State 30–27 on a Hail Mary pass followed by a lateral on the game's final play. Shortly afterwards, the game officials, as well as the conferences of the participating teams (the MAC and Big 12 respectively), announced that Central Michigan should not have been allowed to run the winning play. On the previous play, during which the clock had run out, Oklahoma State had been called for intentional grounding on fourth down. Under NCAA rules, a game cannot end on an accepted live ball foul; however, an exception to that rule states that if the penalty includes a loss of down—which is the case for intentional grounding—the game ends at that point.
On September 17, FCS program North Dakota State defeated No. 13 Iowa on a late field goal to win 23–21 at Kinnick Stadium, becoming just the fourth FCS team to beat an AP-ranked FBS team. This was Iowa's first loss to a non FBS opponent. The next day, NDSU received 74 points in the AP Poll to set a new record for votes received by an FCS team in a single AP Poll.
On October 22, unranked Penn State defeated No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21 at Beaver Stadium. Penn State had not been ranked since the 2011 season, and had entered the 2016 season still rebuilding after sanctions had decimated the roster in 2012. Ohio State built a 21-7 lead in the third quarter; Penn State rallied to score the game's final 17 points. Ohio State had lined up for a field goal to potentially put them ahead by seven points, but then-safety Marcus Allen blocked the field goal attempt, and Penn State's cornerback Grant Haley returned it 60 yards for the score. Haley's game-winning touchdown was labeled as the "Kick Six". It was Penn State's first win over a Top-5 team in 20 years; their first win against a top-2 opponent since 1990; and their first win in Beaver Stadium against a team ranked No. 2 since 1982 against No. 2 Nebraska. Penn State would go on to win nine straight games, winning the Big Ten Championship, rose to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, and went to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State did not lose again during the regular season, and despite their loss to Penn State, they would go on to the College Football Playoff.
On December 10, Army defeated No. 25 ranked Navy 21–17 to end a 14-year losing streak in the Army–Navy Game, the longest for either side in the rivalry's history.
In addition to the stadium updates above, two schools played their final season in their then-current venues:
Rankings reflect the Week 15 AP Poll before the conference championship games were played.
|Conference||Champion||Runner-up||Score||Offensive Player of the Year||Defensive Player of the Year||Coach of the Year|
|ACC||No. 3 Clemson CFP||No. 19 Virginia Tech||42–35||Lamar Jackson (QB), Louisville||DeMarcus Walker (LB), Florida State||Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech|
|Big 12||No. 7 Oklahoma||No. 11 Oklahoma State
#14 West Virginia
|56-28||Dede Westbrook (WR), Oklahoma||Jordan Willis (DE), Kansas State||Bob Stoops, Oklahoma|
|Big Ten||No. 8 Penn State||No. 6 Wisconsin||38–31||Saquon Barkley (RB), Penn State||Jabrill Peppers (LB), Michigan||Paul Chryst (coaches), Wisconsin |
James Franklin (media), Penn State
|Pac-12||No. 4 Washington CFP||No. 9 Colorado||41–10||Jake Browning (QB), Washington||Adoree' Jackson (WR/CB), USC||Mike MacIntyre, Colorado|
|SEC||No. 1 Alabama CFP||No. 15 Florida||54–16||Jalen Hurts (QB), Alabama||Jonathan Allen (DE), Alabama||Nick Saban, Alabama|
|Conference||Champion||Runner Up||Score||Offensive Player of the Year||Defensive Player of the Year||Coach of the Year|
|AAC||Temple (East)||No. 20 Navy||34–10||Quinton Flowers (QB), South Florida||Shaquem Griffin (LB), UCF||Ken Niumatalolo, Navy|
|C-USA||Western Kentucky||Louisiana Tech||58–44||Ryan Higgins (QB), Louisiana Tech (MVP)
Carlos Henderson (WR), Louisiana Tech (Offensive POY)
|Trey Hendrickson (DE), Florida Atlantic||Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech|
|MAC||No. 13 Western Michigan||Ohio||29–23||Corey Davis (WR), Western Michigan||Tarell Basham (DE), Ohio||P. J. Fleck, Western Michigan|
|MW||San Diego State||Wyoming||27–24||Donnel Pumphrey (RB), San Diego State||Damontae Kazee (DB), San Diego State||Craig Bohl, Wyoming|
|Sun Belt||Appalachian State||Troy
|N/A||Jalin Moore (RB), Appalachian State||Ja'Von Rolland-Jones (DL), Arkansas State (overall POY)
Rashad Dillard (DL), Troy (Defensive POY)
|Paul Petrino, Idaho|
CFP College Football Playoff participant
Main article: 2016–17 NCAA football bowl games
There were 40 postseason bowl games, with two teams advancing to a 41st – the CFP National Championship game. As in previous seasons, teams with losing records could become bowl-eligible in order to fill all 80 bowl slots.
Teams with Asterisk(*) qualified for bowls based on Academic Progress Rate, despite not having a bowl-eligible record.
Number of bowl berths available: 80
Number of bowl-eligible teams: 80
Number of bowl-ineligible teams: 48
Since the 2014–15 postseason, six College Football Playoff (CFP) bowl games have hosted two semifinal playoff games on a rotating basis. For the 2016 season, the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl hosted the semifinal games, with the winners advancing to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
|Semifinals||2017 Championship Game|
|December 31 – Peach BowlGeorgia Dome, Atlanta|
|4||Washington||7||January 9 – ChampionshipRaymond James Stadium, Tampa|
|December 31 – Fiesta BowlUniversity of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale||2||Clemson||35|
Main article: 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football rankings
|1||Alabama||13–0||Peach Bowl (CFP Semifinal)|
|2||Clemson||12–1||Fiesta Bowl (CFP Semifinal)|
|3||Ohio State||11–1||Fiesta Bowl (CFP Semifinal)|
|4||Washington||12–1||Peach Bowl (CFP Semifinal)|
|5||Penn State||11–2||Rose Bowl|
|8||Wisconsin||10–3||Cotton Bowl Classic|
|11||Florida State||9–3||Orange Bowl|
|12||Oklahoma State||9–3||Alamo Bowl|
|15||Western Michigan||13–0||Cotton Bowl Classic|
|16||West Virginia||10–2||Russell Athletic Bowl|
|19||Utah||8–4||Foster Farms Bowl|
|21||Tennessee||8–4||Music City Bowl|
|22||Virginia Tech||9–4||Belk Bowl|
|25||Navy||9–3||Armed Forces Bowl|
|Rank||Associated Press||Coaches' Poll|
|6||Ohio State||Ohio State|
|7||Penn State||Penn State|
|8||Florida State||Florida State|
|11||Oklahoma State||Oklahoma State|
|16||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech|
|18||West Virginia||Western Michigan|
|25||San Diego State||San Diego State|
The Heisman Trophy is given to the year's most outstanding player.
Main article: 2016 College Football All-America Team
This is restricted to coaching changes taking place on or after May 1, 2016. For coaching changes that occurred earlier in 2016, see 2015 NCAA Division I FBS end-of-season coaching changes.
|Baylor||Art Briles||May 26, 2016||Fired||Jim Grobe (interim, bowl)|
|FIU||Ron Turner||September 25, 2016||Fired||Ron Cooper (interim)|
|FIU||Ron Cooper (interim)||November 9, 2016||Permanent replacement||Butch Davis|
|Fresno State||Tim DeRuyter||October 23, 2016||Fired||Eric Kiesau (interim)|
|Fresno State||Eric Kiesau (interim)||November 9, 2016||Permanent replacement||Jeff Tedford|
|Georgia State||Trent Miles||November 13, 2016||Fired||Tim Lappano (interim)|
|Houston||Tom Herman||November 26, 2016||Hired by Texas||Todd Orlando (interim) Bowl|
|LSU||Les Miles||September 25, 2016||Fired||Ed Orgeron [n 3]|
|Purdue||Darrell Hazell||October 16, 2016||Fired||Gerad Parker (interim)|
|South Florida||Willie Taggart||December 11, 2016||Hired by Oregon||T. J. Weist (interim)|
|Temple||Matt Rhule||December 6, 2016||Hired by Baylor||Ed Foley (interim)|
|Western Kentucky||Jeff Brohm||December 5, 2016||Hired by Purdue||Nick Holt (interim)|
|Baylor||Jim Grobe (interim, bowl)||December 6, 2016||Permanent replacement||Matt Rhule|
|California||Sonny Dykes||January 8, 2017||Fired||Justin Wilcox|
|Cincinnati||Tommy Tuberville||December 4, 2016||Resigned||Luke Fickell|
|Florida Atlantic||Charlie Partridge||November 27, 2016||Fired||Lane Kiffin|
|Georgia State||Tim Lappano (interim)||December 8, 2016||Permanent replacement||Shawn Elliott|
|Houston||Todd Orlando (interim, bowl)[n 4]||December 9, 2016||Permanent replacement||Major Applewhite|
|Indiana||Kevin Wilson||December 1, 2016||Resigned||Tom Allen|
|Minnesota||Tracy Claeys||January 3, 2017||Fired||P. J. Fleck|
|Nevada||Brian Polian||November 27, 2016||Agreed to part ways||Jay Norvell|
|Oregon||Mark Helfrich||November 29, 2016||Agreed to part ways||Willie Taggart|
|Purdue||Gerad Parker (interim)||December 5, 2016||Permanent replacement||Jeff Brohm|
|San Jose State||Ron Caragher||November 27, 2016||Fired||Brent Brennan|
|South Florida||T. J. Weist (interim, bowl)||December 11, 2016||Permanent replacement||Charlie Strong|
|Temple||Ed Foley (interim, bowl)||December 13, 2016||Permanent replacement||Geoff Collins|
|Texas||Charlie Strong||November 26, 2016||Fired||Tom Herman|
|UConn||Bob Diaco||December 26, 2016||Fired||Randy Edsall|
|Western Kentucky||Nick Holt (interim, bowl)||December 12, 2016||Permanent replacement||Mike Sanford Jr.|
|Western Michigan||P. J. Fleck||January 6, 2017||Hired by Minnesota||Tim Lester|
All times Eastern. Rankings are from the AP Poll before (11/1) and the CFP Rankings thereafter.
|Rank||Date||Matchup||Network||Viewers (millions)||TV Rating||Significance|
|1||November 26, 12:00pm||No. 3 Michigan||27||No. 2 Ohio State||30||ABC||16.84||9.4||College GameDay/Rivalry|
|2||September 4, 7:30pm||No. 10 Notre Dame||47||Texas||50||10.94||6.4|
|3||November 5, 8:00pm||No. 1 Alabama||10||No. 13 LSU||0||CBS||10.38||5.8||College GameDay/Rivalry|
|4||October 1, 8:00pm||No. 3 Louisville||36||No. 5 Clemson||42||ABC||9.29||5.5||College GameDay|
|5||October 15, 8:00pm||No. 2 Ohio State||30||No. 8 Wisconsin||23||8.96||5.6||College GameDay|
|6||October 22, 3:30pm||No. 6 Texas A&M||14||No. 1 Alabama||33||CBS||8.46||5.1||College GameDay|
|7||September 5, 8:00pm||No. 11 Ole Miss||34||No. 4 Florida State||45||ESPN||8.35||4.8||Camping World Kickoff|
|8||November 26, 3:30pm||No. 13 Auburn||12||No. 1 Alabama||30||CBS||8.24||4.6||Rivalry|
|9||September 17, 3:30pm||No. 1 Alabama||48||No. 19 Ole Miss||43||8.17||5.0||Rivalry|
|10||September 3, 8:00pm||No. 20 USC||6||No. 1 Alabama||52||ABC||7.94||4.6||Advocare Classic|
All times Eastern. Rankings are from the CFP Rankings.
|Rank||Date||Matchup||Network||Viewers (millions)||TV Rating||Conference||Location|
|1||December 3||No. 1 Alabama (West)||54||No. 15 Florida (East)||16||CBS||11.09||6.6||SEC||Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA|
|2||December 3||No. 6 Wisconsin (West)||31||No. 7 Penn State (East)||38||FOX||9.19||5.2||Big Ten||Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN|
|3||December 2||No. 8 Colorado (South)||10||No. 4 Washington (North)||41||5.67||3.4||Pac-12||Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA|
|4||December 3||No. 3 Clemson (Atlantic)||42||No. 23 Virginia Tech (Coastal)||35||ABC||5.34||3.2||ACC||Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL|
|5||December 3||No. 19 Navy (West)||10||Temple (East)||34||ABC||2.05||1.4||AAC||Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD|
|6||December 2||No. 17 Western Michigan (West)||29||Ohio (East)||23||ESPN2||1.36||0.3||MAC||Ford Field, Detroit, MI|
|7||December 3||Western Kentucky (East)||58||Louisiana Tech (West)||44||ESPN||0.926||0.6||C-USA||Houchens Industries–L. T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY|
|8||December 3||San Diego State (West)||27||Wyoming (Mountain)||24||ESPN||0.713||0.4||MW||War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, WY|
All times Eastern. Rankings are from the CFP Rankings.
|Game||Date||Matchup||Network||Viewers (millions)||TV Rating||Location|
|Peach Bowl (semifinal)||December 31, 2016, 3:00pm||No. 4 Washington||7||No. 1 Alabama||24||ESPN||19.34||10.7||Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA|
|Fiesta Bowl (semifinal)||December 31, 2016, 7:00pm||No. 3 Ohio State||0||No. 2 Clemson||31||19.23||9.8||University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ|
|National Championship||January 9, 2017, 8:30pm||No. 2 Clemson||35||No. 1 Alabama||31||25.27||14.2||Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL|
|San Diego State||37,289|
|San José State||15,419|
|New Mexico State||9,545|
"This is an important year for our program as we start our transition to the FBS," said fifth-year head coach Joe Moglia. "However, we are still an FCS independent this year and have put together a nationally-competitive schedule to reflect that.