The 1995 NCAA Division I-A football season was the first year of the Bowl Alliance.
Tom Osborne led Nebraska to its second straight national title with a victory over Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.
This match up was only possible because of the new Bowl Alliance. Under the old system, Nebraska would have been tied to the Orange Bowl and Florida to the Sugar Bowl. The Bowl Alliance created a national championship game which would rotate between the Orange, Sugar, and Fiesta Bowls free of conference tie-ins and featuring the #1 and #2 teams as chosen by the Bowl Alliance Poll. The Pac-10 and Big Ten chose not to participate, keeping their tie-ins with the Rose Bowl.
Nebraska was showing signs of dynasty, playing in its third consecutive national title game, and became the first school to claim back-to-back titles since the 1970s. This was a dominant Nebraska team, averaging 52 points per game and a 39-point average margin of victory, including a 62-24 victory over Florida. This lopsided victory came after Florida was picked by many sportswriters to win the game.
Ohio State almost managed to create a national title controversy, going into its final regular season game against Michigan undefeated and ranked #2. Had they finished the season #2 the Bowl Alliance would have been unable to pit #1 vs. #2 as the Big Ten champ was tied to the Rose Bowl. Fortunately for the Bowl Alliance, Michigan upset Ohio State, but Buckeye running back Eddie George still managed to win the Heisman Trophy.
Things were lively in the state of Florida, where the Florida Gators won their third straight SEC championship. Florida State started the season #1, but lost an ACC game for the first time ever when Virginia stopped a last minute drive a few inches from the end zone, knocking them out of the national title race.
However, Northwestern was able to steal the show as the year's Cinderella story. Its only regular season loss came against Miami-OH. Northwestern began the season with an upset of Notre Dame and went on to defeat Michigan and Penn State later in the season. Undefeated in the Big Ten after decades as a doormat, the Wildcats went on to face USC in the Rose Bowl. However, the Wildcats lost to the Trojans in what was a see-saw game until USC pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Miami and Alabama had to sit the post season out, as they were on NCAA probation.
The Southwest Conference played its final game ever, an 18–17 Houston win over Rice. Four of its members would join the Big 8 to form the Big 12; the other four were split between the WAC and the newly formed Conference USA.
The Hall of Fame Bowl, originally played in Birmingham, then moved to Tampa, Florida gained corporate sponsorship, and was now known as the Outback Bowl. The Freedom Bowl was discontinued and the Holiday Bowl absorbed its WAC tie-in.
The first ever Division I-A overtime game was played during the 1995 bowl season, the Las Vegas Bowl between Toledo and Nevada. Overtime would be adopted permanently for all games in 1996. Due to the adoption of overtime, the season-ending 3-3 game between Wisconsin and Illinois on November 25 is the last tied game in Division 1-A.
- Overtime was introduced for bowl games only in Division I-A. The system is similar to one used in lower division postseason games; Each team gets one possession at the defense's 25 yard line per overtime period and continues until the tie is broken.
- Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will be assessed on any player who removes his helmet in the field of play other than due to injury.
- Officials were instructed to strictly enforce anti-taunting and anti-showboating rules passed in the 1991 season and amended in the 1993 season.
- The home team is allowed to wear white jerseys if they receive written permission from the visiting school in advance, rescinding the 1983 rule requiring the visitors to wear white. This rule was personally lobbied by new LSU coach Gerry DiNardo, since the Bayou Bengals wore white at home from the late 1950s through 1982. The Southeastern Conference adjusted the rule in 1997 for conference games, when it stated the home team would receive first choice of jersey color, regardless of the visiting team's wishes.
Conference and program changes
One team upgraded from Division I-AA prior to the season. As such, the total number of Division I-A schools increased to 108.
- Pacific decided to drop their football team after the completion of the 1995 season.
#1 and #2 progress
+Ohio State, a Big Ten school, was not part of the Bowl Alliance. Florida was #3 during weeks 11 through 13.
- Fiesta Bowl: #1 Nebraska 62, #2 Florida 24
- Rose Bowl: #17 Southern California 41, #3 Northwestern 32
- Sugar Bowl: #13 Virginia Tech 28, #9 Texas 10
- Orange Bowl: #8 Florida State 31, #6 Notre Dame 26
- Cotton Bowl Classic: #7 Colorado 38, #12 Oregon 6
- Peach Bowl: #18 Virginia 34, Georgia 27
- Florida Citrus Bowl: #4 Tennessee 20, #4 Ohio State 14
- Outback Bowl: #15 Penn State 43, #16 Auburn 14
- Carquest Bowl: North Carolina 20, #24 Arkansas 10
- Sun Bowl: Iowa 38, #20 Washington 18
- Gator Bowl: Syracuse 41, #23 Clemson 0
- Alamo Bowl: #19 Texas A&M 22, #14 Michigan 20
- Copper Bowl: Texas Tech 55, Air Force 41
- Holiday Bowl: #10 Kansas State 54, Colorado State 21
- Liberty Bowl: East Carolina 19, Stanford 13
- Aloha Bowl: #11 Kansas 51, UCLA 30
- Independence Bowl: LSU 45, Michigan State 26
- Las Vegas Bowl: #25 Toledo 40, Nevada 37 (OT)
Final AP Poll
- Florida State
- Ohio State
- Kansas State
- Virginia Tech
- Notre Dame
- Penn State
- Texas A&M
- Texas Tech
Final Coaches Poll
- Florida St.
- Kansas St.
- Ohio St.
- Virginia Tech
- Southern California
- Penn St.
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- Texas Tech
- East Carolina
Heisman Trophy voting
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award is given to the Most Outstanding Player of the year
Eddie George, Ohio State, Running Back (1460 votes)
Other major awards
- Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year) - Eddie George, Ohio State
- Walter Camp Award (Back) - Eddie George, Ohio State
- Davey O'Brien Award (Quarterback) - Danny Wuerffel, Florida
- Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (Senior Quarterback) - Tommie Frazier, Nebraska
- Doak Walker Award (Running Back) - Eddie George, Ohio State
- Fred Biletnikoff Award (Wide Receiver) - Terry Glenn, Ohio State
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy (Defensive Player) - Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
- Dick Butkus Award (Linebacker) - Kevin Hardy, Illinois
- Lombardi Award (Lineman or Linebacker) - Orlando Pace, Ohio State
- Outland Trophy (Interior Lineman) - Jonathan Ogden, OT, UCLA
- Jim Thorpe Award (Defensive Back) - Greg Meyers, Colorado State
- Lou Groza Award (Placekicker) - Michael Reeder, TCU
- Paul "Bear" Bryant Award - Gary Barnett, Northwestern