|1982 NCAA Division I-A season|
Memorial for legendary coach Bear Bryant, who retired after the 1982 season, and died 28 days later.
|Preseason AP No. 1||Pittsburgh Panthers|
|Duration||December 17, 1982 - |
January 1, 1983
|Herschel Walker, RB, Georgia|
|Winner||Penn State Nittany Lions|
|Division I-A football seasons|
The Penn State Nittany Lions won their first consensus national championship, closing out an season by defeating Georgia and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker 27-23 in the Sugar Bowl to edge out undefeated SMU for the national championship. It was Joe Paterno's first national championship, after three undefeated non-championship
UCLA moved from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the Rose Bowl and fulfilled a promise made by coach Terry Donahue by closing out their season there as well, beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
|School||1981 Conference||1982 Conference|
|Colgate Raiders||I-A Independent||I-AA Independent|
|Holy Cross Crusaders||I-A Independent||I-AA Independent|
|Northeast Louisiana Indians||I-A Independent||Southland (I-AA)|
|Richmond Spiders||I-A Independent||I-AA Independent|
|UNLV Rebels||I-A Independent||PCAA (Big West)|
|William & Mary Tribe||I-A Independent||I-AA Independent|
The pre season poll had a top 5 of 1. Pittsburgh, 2. Washington, 3. Nebraska, 4. Alabama, and 5. North Carolina. Penn State was #8.
On September 11, #5 North Carolina lost at #1 Pittsburgh by a score of 7-6; the Tar Heels would never return to the top 5 as they went 8-4. Meanwhile, Washington, by virtue of its 55-0 win over UTEP, moved ahead of Pitt in the next poll. Florida replaced North Carolina in the top 5 that was 1. Washington, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. Nebraska, 4. Alabama, and 5. Florida.
After games of September 18, Pittsburgh was again leapfrogged by a team that dominated a weak opponent, as Nebraska beat New Mexico 68-0 and moved ahead of Pitt to #2. The rest of the top 5 was unchanged.
On September 25, #2 Nebraska was defeated at #8 Penn State by a score of 27-24 in a game that ultimately decided the national title. The outcome of the game was controversial as Penn State tight end Mike McCloskey would later admit catching a key pass out of bounds that kept the winning drive alive. Penn State replaced Nebraska in the new top 5 that was 1. Washington, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. Penn State, 4. Alabama, and 5. Florida.
On October 2, #5 Florida lost at home to unranked LSU 24-13. Georgia replaced Florida in the top 5 and also moved ahead of Alabama. The new poll was 1. Washington, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. Penn State, 4. Georgia, and 5. Alabama.
On October 9, #5 Alabama defeated #3 Penn State in Birmingham 42-21. Alabama jumped up top to #2 while SMU replaced Penn State in the top five. 1. Washington, 2. Alabama, 3. Pittsburgh, 4. Georgia, 5. SMU.
On October 16, #2 Alabama was knocked off in Knoxville by Tennessee, 35-28. Nebraska returned to the top five. 1. Washington, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. Georgia, 4. SMU, 5. Nebraska.
On October 23, Washington struggled to beat Texas Tech 10-3 so Pittsburgh moved ahead of them in the poll. The same day, Nebraska squeaked by Missouri at home 23-19 and slipped to #6, with Arkansas taking their place in the top 5. The new poll was 1. Pittsburgh, 2. Washington, 3. Georgia, 4. SMU, and 5. Arkansas.
On October 30 in Palo Alto, John Elway and Stanford stunned #2 Washington 43-31. SMU jumped ahead of Georgia into the #2 spot with a 47-9 drubbing of Texas A&M. Undefeated and #7 Arizona State beat #12 USC 17-10 and moved up to #4. The new poll was 1. Pittsburgh, 2. SMU, 3. Georgia, 4. Arizona State, and 5. Arkansas.
On November 6, #1 Pittsburgh was stunned at home by unranked Notre Dame, 31-16. #5 Arkansas was knocked off by Baylor in Waco 24-17. #3 Georgia romped over #20 Florida 44-0 and moved to the top spot. The new poll was 1. Georgia, 2. SMU, 3. Arizona State, 4. Nebraska, and 5. Penn State.
On November 13 in a Pac-10 showdown in Tempe, #7 Washington beat #3 Arizona State 17-13. That put the Huskies back in the top 5. Remembering that Penn State defeated Nebraska earlier in the season, the pollsters moved the Nittany Lions ahead of the Cornhuskers in the new poll that was 1. Georgia, 2. SMU, 3. Penn State, 4. Nebraska, 5. Washington.
On November 20, #2 SMU was tied by #9 Arkansas 17-17. #5 Washington had its Rose Bowl hopes ended as rival Washington State upset the Huskies 24-20. Pittsburgh returned to the top five replacing Washington. 1. Georgia, 2. Penn State 3. Nebraska, 4. SMU, 5. Pittsburgh.
On November 26, in a game that likely decided who would meet #1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, #2 Penn State shut down Dan Marino and #5 Pittsburgh, 19-10. The next day, #6 Arizona State was knocked out of the Rose Bowl by rival Arizona, 28-18. That gave UCLA the Pac 10 title and Rose Bowl berth. The Bruins replaced Pittsburgh in the top 5 in the final regular season poll. 1. Georgia, 2. Penn State, 3. Nebraska, 4. SMU, 5. UCLA.
|PRE-1||Pittsburgh||Washington||Washington 55, UTEP 0||Sep 11|
|2||Washington||Pittsburgh||Nebraska 68, New Mexico St. 0||Sep 18|
|3||Washington||Nebraska||Penn State 27, Nebraska 24||Sep 25|
|4-5||Washington||Pittsburgh||Alabama 34, Arkansas St 7||Oct 2|
|6||Washington||Alabama||Tennessee 35, Alabama 28||Oct 16|
|7||Washington||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh 14, Syracuse 0||Oct 23|
|8||Pittsburgh||Washington||Stanford 43, Washington 31||Oct 30|
|9||Pittsburgh||SMU||Notre Dame 31, Pitt 16||Nov 6|
|10-11||Georgia||SMU||Arkansas 17, SMU 17||Nov 20|
|12-14||Georgia||Penn State||Penn State 27, Georgia 23||Jan 1|
|1.||Penn State||Penn State|
|6.||Arizona State||Arizona State|
|12.||Ohio State||Ohio State|
|13.||Florida State||North Carolina|
|19.||West Virginia||West Virginia|