The 1982 College Football Season & The Road To The Major Bowls

The 1982 college football season was a historical landmark, as the legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno won his first national championship, defeating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to seal the deal. It was also a year where highly regarded early favorites did not play to form. This blog compilation tells the season-long story of the 10 teams who ultimately made it to the January 1 major bowl games.

In this compilation you’ll read season-long narratives that include the following…

*The controversial win Penn State had over Nebraska in September, one that shaped the national championship race all the way through the finish line.

*Georgia’s undefeated season and the dominance of Heisman Trophy-winning back Herschel Walker, especially on a season-defining drive at Auburn.

*Speaking of great running backs, how about SMU’s Pony Express of Eric Dickerson and Craig James? Read how they led SMU to a coveted Southwest Conference title.

*Pitt’s push for the top spot in the polls until Marino’s surprising inconsistency undid him and his team in November against Notre Dame and Penn State.

*Nebraska’s power running game led by Mike Rozier and why the controversy at Penn State may have denied the Cornhuskers a national championship. Nebraska still kept themselves ahead of archrival Oklahoma for the second straight year, as the Sooners made it to January 1, but struggled to find their footing as an elite power.

*The surprise rise of LSU, then a middling SEC program, to first push Georgia for the conference title and then win a big November game with Florida State to reach the Orange Bowl.

*UCLA’s run to the Pac-10 title, highlighted by some great quarterback play from Tom Ramsey and a miracle finish where both Washington and Arizona State failed to close the deal on the Rose Bowl bid.

*And before we just focus on Arizona State’s big loss, how about their nine-win campaign that put the Sun Devils on the national stage?

*Michigan overcame a slow start in non-conference play to come barreling through the Big Ten, with conference Player of the Year Anthony Carter. But you’ll also see how some foolish conference scheduling rendered their game at Ohio State meaningless.

This compilation pulls together five different articles, one on each bowl game that tells about the season-long paths of its participants—their key players and season defining moments. The articles are edited for this compilation and together they tell the story of the 1982 college football season through the eyes of its best teams.