|2012 NCAA Division I FBS season|
|Number of teams||120 + 4 transitional|
|Duration||August 30 – December 8|
|Preseason AP No. 1||USC|
|Duration||December 15, 2012 – January 7, 2013|
|Heisman Trophy||Johnny Manziel (quarterback, Texas A&M)|
|Bowl Championship Series|
|2013 BCS Championship Game|
|Site||Sun Life Stadium|
Miami Gardens, Florida
|NCAA Division I FBS football seasons|
The regular season began on August 30, 2012 and ended on December 8, 2012. The postseason concluded on January 7, 2013 with the BCS National Championship Game, where Alabama repeated as national champions by defeating Notre Dame.
Although Ohio State finished the regular season as the only undefeated team from an automatic-qualifying ("Power 5") BCS conference, they were ineligible to play in the postseason due to sanctions imposed earlier in the year.
The NCAA Rules Committee approved the following rule changes for the 2012 season, mostly for safety reasons:
- Kickoffs will be moved up to the 35-yard line from the 30, mirroring a similar change by the NFL in the 2011 season and rescinding a rule change made in the 2007 season.
- The kicking team will only have a five-yard running head start on kickoffs, again mirroring the NFL changes in 2011.
- Touchbacks will move from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line only on kickoffs and free kicks after a safety. Touchbacks on punts rolling into the end zone, fumbles into the end zone, and interceptions in the end zone will remain at the 20-yard line.
- Players will be forbidden to leap over other players when blocking punts.
- Players who lose their helmets during a play (except when caused by fouls such as grabbing the facemask) will have to leave the field for one play. When a helmet is lost during play by the ball carrier, the play is dead immediately. Any action made by or against a helmetless player is penalized as a personal foul for 15 yards.
- Offensive players in the tackle box at the snap who are not in motion are allowed to block below the waist legally without restriction. All other players are restricted from blocking below the waist with some exceptions (i.e., blocking straight-on), modifying a rule change from the 2011 season.
The following list includes schools transitioning from FCS to FBS.
|School||Former conference||New conference|
|Fresno State||WAC||Mountain West|
|South Alabama||FCS Independent||Sun Belt|
|TCU||Mountain West||Big 12|
|Texas A&M||Big 12||SEC|
|Texas State||Southland (FCS)||WAC|
|West Virginia||Big East||Big 12|
On March 7, Temple was admitted back into the Big East Conference after having been expelled from it a decade earlier for failing to maintain a competitive football program. Temple joined from the Mid-American Conference, where it had competed since 2007.
Teams transitioning to FBS
On April 9, 2012, Georgia State University, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, announced that it would rejoin the Sun Belt Conference effective in July 2013. Georgia State had been a charter Sun Belt member when the conference formed in 1976, but left in 1981. The Panthers began their FBS transition during the 2012 season and started playing a full Sun Belt schedule upon joining the conference in 2013. Full FBS membership, along with bowl eligibility, followed in 2014. The Panthers, who had been coached by Bill Curry since starting a football program in 2010, played home games at the Georgia Dome near the school's campus in downtown Atlanta. The Panthers remained at the Georgia Dome until its closure and demolition after the 2016 season; they have since taken over the venue formerly known as Centennial Olympic Stadium and Turner Field and converted it into the football-specific Georgia State Stadium.
The conference realignment period that began in 2010 continued for a third consecutive off-season.
The Mountain West Conference continued to raid the rapidly-collapsing Western Athletic Conference by adding San Jose State and Utah State on May 4. The additions allowed the Mountain West, which was anticipating the looming departures of Boise State and San Diego State to the Big East, to keep its football membership at ten teams for the 2013 season.
On September 12, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced the addition of Notre Dame in all sports except football. Under the agreement, Notre Dame's football team would play five games against ACC opponents per season but remain classified an FBS independent, while its other sports would be fully integrated into the ACC. The arrangement is effectively a stronger version of the affiliation Notre Dame had had with the Big East since 1995.
The Big Ten Conference, having already added Nebraska in 2011, admitted two more schools to expand the conference's geographic footprint to the East Coast. Maryland, coming from the ACC, was announced as the 13th member on November 19, followed by Rutgers of the Big East as the 14th member on November 21. Both moves would take effect during the 2014–15 academic year.
- Boise State moved their track and field program out of Bronco Stadium, allowing for the expansion of end zone bleachers over the existing track. The new permanent additions increased capacity from 33,500 to 37,000.
- Nebraska continued its expansion of Memorial Stadium that would push its capacity beyond 90,000.
- TCU completed a major renovation of Amon G. Carter Stadium. Seating capacity increased only by about 600 seats to 45,000.
- Texas State nearly doubled the size of Bobcat Stadium as part of its FBS transition. The venue, which formerly contained about 16,000 seats, now holds 30,000.
- California returned to California Memorial Stadium following major renovations, which included a full seismic retrofit, as the stadium is located directly on a major fault. The stadium's capacity was reduced from 71,800 to 62,700. The Golden Bears played their 2011 home schedule at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and also played what was officially a neutral-site game against Fresno State at Candlestick Park, also in San Francisco.
- Clemson renovated the video systems at Clemson Memorial Stadium prior to the start of the 2012 season. A new Jumbotron was installed on the primary scoreboard behind the East endzone, while two smaller video boards were installed on each side of the WestZone stands. In addition, video ribbons were installed along the facings of the upper decks.
- Michigan State completed a complete overhaul of their sound and video system with the addition of two video boards in the north end zone, a video ribbon along the entire north edge and installation of the fourth largest scoreboard in the NCAA in the south end zone.
- Due to major renovations at Husky Stadium, Washington played its entire 2012 home schedule at nearby CenturyLink Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and Seattle Sounders FC (MLS).
- Due to renovations at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Massachusetts played its entire 2012 home schedule at Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots (NFL) and New England Revolution (MLS). The school is also contractually obligated to play all of its 2013 home schedule, plus at least four home games in each season from 2014 to 2016, at Gillette, which is approximately a 2-hour drive from the UMass campus.
Rankings reflect the Week 14 AP Poll before the games were played.
Conference championship games
|Conference||Champion||Runner-Up||Score||Offensive Player of the Year||Defensive Player of the Year||Coach of the Year|
|ACC||No. 13 Florida State||Georgia Tech||21–15||Tajh Boyd, Clemson||Björn Werner, Florida State||David Cutcliffe, Duke|
|Big Ten||Wisconsin||No. 14 Nebraska||70–31||Braxton Miller, Ohio State||John Simon, Ohio State||Bill O'Brien, Penn State|
|C-USA||Tulsa||UCF||33–27||Rakeem Cato, Marshall (MVP) &
Zach Line, SMU
|Kemal Ishmael, UCF||Bill Blankenship, Tulsa|
|MAC||No. 19 Northern Illinois||No. 18 Kent State||44–37||Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois||Chris Jones, Bowling Green||Darrell Hazell, Kent State|
|Pac-12||No. 8 Stanford||No. 17 UCLA||27–24||Marqise Lee, USC||Will Sutton, Arizona State||David Shaw, Stanford|
|SEC||No. 2 Alabama||No. 3 Georgia||32–28||Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M||Jarvis Jones, Georgia (AP) & Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (coaches)||Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M (AP and coaches) & Will Muschamp, Florida (coaches)|
Other conference champions
|Conference||Champion(s)||Record||Offensive Player of the Year||Defensive Player of the Year||Coach of the Year|
|Big 12||No. 7 Kansas State*
No. 12 Oklahoma
|Collin Klein, Kansas State||Arthur Brown, Kansas State||Bill Snyder, Kansas State|
|Big East||Cincinnati||9–3 (5–2)
|Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville||Khaseem Greene, Rutgers||Charlie Strong, Louisville &|
Kyle Flood, Rutgers
|MWC||No. 25 Boise State
San Diego State
|Derek Carr, Fresno State||Phillip Thomas, Fresno State||Rocky Long, San Diego State|
|Sun Belt||Arkansas State||9–3 (7–1)||Kolton Browning, Louisiana-Monroe||Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky||Todd Berry, Louisiana-Monroe|
|WAC||No. 20 Utah State||10–2 (6–0)||Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech||Travis Johnson, San Jose State||Gary Andersen, Utah State|
* Received conference's automatic BCS bowl bid.
Final BCS rankings
|1||Notre Dame||12–0||BCS Championship|
|19||Boise State||10–2||Maaco Las Vegas|
|22||Utah State||10–2||Famous Idaho Potato|
|24||San Jose State||10–2||Military|
- Despite not being in the BCS rankings, Wisconsin (8–5) played in the Rose Bowl by virtue of being the Big Ten Champion.
Bowl Championship Series
|Jan. 1||Rose Bowl presented by Vizio||Rose Bowl
|ESPN||No. 6 Stanford Cardinal (11–2)
Wisconsin Badgers (8–5)
|Discover Orange Bowl||Sun Life Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida
|No. 15 Northern Illinois Huskies (12–1)
No. 12 Florida State Seminoles (11–2)
|Florida State 31–10|
|Jan. 2||Allstate Sugar Bowl||Mercedes-Benz Superdome
|No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (10–2)
No. 3 Florida Gators (11–1)
|Jan. 3||Tostitos Fiesta Bowl||University of Phoenix Stadium
|No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats (11–1)
No. 4 Oregon Ducks (11–1)
|Jan. 7||Discover BCS National Championship||Sun Life Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida
|No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12–0)
No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12–1)
Other bowl games
Bowl Challenge Cup standings
Awards and honors
The Heisman Trophy is given to the year's most outstanding player.
|Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M||QB||474||252||103||2029|
|Manti Te'o||Notre Dame||LB||321||309||125||1706|
|Collin Klein||Kansas State||QB||60||197||320||894|
|Braxton Miller||Ohio State||QB||3||29||77||144|
Other major awards
- Archie Griffin Award (MVP): Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- AP Player of the Year: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- Chic Harley Award (Player of the Year): Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- Maxwell Award (top player): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
- SN Player of the Year: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- Walter Camp Award (top player): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
- Burlsworth Trophy (top player who began as walk-on): Matt McGloin, Penn State
- Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player): Tavon Austin, West Virginia
- Campbell Trophy ("academic Heisman"): Barrett Jones, Alabama
- Wuerffel Trophy (humanitarian-athlete): Matt Barkley, USC
- Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- Johnny Unitas Award (senior/4th year quarterback): Collin Klein, Kansas State
- Kellen Moore Award (quarterback): Collin Klein, Kansas State
- Manning Award (quarterback): Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- Sammy Baugh Trophy (quarterback, specifically passer): Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech
- Doak Walker Award (running back): Montee Ball, Wisconsin
- Jim Brown Trophy (running back): Montee Ball, Wisconsin
- Fred Biletnikoff Award (wide receiver): Marqise Lee, USC
- Paul Warfield Trophy (wide receiver): Marqise Lee, USC
- Dave Rimington Trophy (center): Barrett Jones, Alabama
- Outland Trophy (interior lineman): Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
- Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
- Lott Trophy (defensive impact): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
- Bill Willis Award (defensive lineman): John Simon, Ohio State
- Dick Butkus Award (linebacker): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
- Jack Lambert Trophy (linebacker): Jarvis Jones, Georgia
- Lombardi Award (defensive lineman): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
- Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end): Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
- Lou Groza Award (placekicker): Cairo Santos, Tulane
- Ray Guy Award (punter): Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
- AP Coach of the Year: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
- Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year Award: Nick Saban, Alabama
- Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award: Bill Snyder, Kansas State
- Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
- Maxwell Coach of the Year: Bill O'Brien, Penn State
- Paul "Bear" Bryant Award: Bill O'Brien, Penn State
- SN Coach of the Year: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
- The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
- Woody Hayes Trophy: Urban Meyer, Ohio State
- Walter Camp Coach of the Year: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
- The FBS record for most consecutive passes attempted from the start of a season with no interceptions, previously set by Trent Dilfer of Fresno State in 1993, was broken twice on October 20:
- First, in a day game, Geno Smith of West Virginia set a new mark of 273 before throwing his first interception in a 55–14 loss to Kansas State.
- In a night game, Colby Cameron of Louisiana Tech surpassed that record in the Bulldogs' 70–28 win over Idaho, ending the game at 275 attempts in the season without an interception.
- On November 10, Cameron broke Russell Wilson's FBS career record for most consecutive passes attempted without an interception (379) in Louisiana Tech's 62–55 win over Texas State. Cameron's interception-free streak ended one week later in the second quarter of the Bulldogs' 48–41 overtime loss to Utah State. His single-season streak ended at 428 attempts, and his overall record, which included pass attempts in the 2011 Poinsettia Bowl, ended at 444.
- In the same game in which Cameron broke Wilson's no-interceptions mark, his teammate, running back Kenneth Dixon, set three single-season FBS freshman records:
- Dixon finished the game with 25 total touchdowns, breaking the record of 23 set by Marshall Faulk of San Diego State in 1991. He finished the season with 28 touchdowns (the Bulldogs did not play in a bowl despite a 9–3 record).
- Of those 25 touchdowns, 24 were on the ground, breaking the previous record of 21 rushing touchdowns set by Faulk and equaled in 2009 by Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech. Dixon ended the season with 27 rushing TDs.
- Dixon ended the game with 150 points on the season, breaking Faulk's previous record of 140. He ended the season with 168 points.
- On November 24, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball scored his 79th career touchdown during the Badgers' 24–21 loss to Penn State, breaking the previous record of Miami (OH) running back Travis Prentice.
- In the Big Ten Championship Game on December 1, Ball added to his collection of FBS records. In the Badgers' 70–31 win over Nebraska, he scored three touchdowns, all on the ground. Ball, who had entered the game tied with Prentice for the most FBS career rushing touchdowns, took sole possession of the record, ending the game with 76. He also tied Prentice's FBS record for most career games with multiple touchdowns, at 25.
This list is restricted to coaching changes that took place on or after May 1, 2012. For coaching changes that occurred earlier in 2012, see 2011 NCAA Division I FBS end-of-season coaching changes.
Preseason and in-season
|Idaho||Robb Akey||October 21||Fired||Jason Gesser (interim)|
|Tennessee||Derek Dooley||November 18||Fired||Jim Chaney (interim)|
End of season
Most watched regular season games in 2012
|1||December 1, 4:00 ET||No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Alabama||CBS||16.2 Million*||9.8 Rating||SEC Championship|
|2||November 24, 8:00 ET||No. 1 Notre Dame vs. USC||ABC||16.1 Million*||9.4 Rating||Notre Dame-USC Rivalry|
|3||November 3, 8:00 ET||No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 LSU||CBS||11.3 Million||6.8 Rating||Alabama-LSU Rivalry|
|4||November 10, 3:30 ET||No. 15 Texas A&M vs. No. 1 Alabama||CBS||9.6 Million||6.1 Rating||Manziel beats Bama|
|5||November 24, 12:00 ET||No. 19 Michigan vs. No. 4** Ohio State||ABC||9.5 Million||5.8 Rating||The Game|
|6||October 27, 8:00 ET||No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 8 Oklahoma||ABC||8.6 Million||5.2 Rating|
|7||November 24, 3:30 ET||No. 4 Florida vs. No. 10 Florida State||ABC||8.5 Million||5.1 Rating||Florida–Florida State rivalry|
|8||November 17, 8:00 ET||No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 2 Oregon||ABC||8.3 Million||5.1 Rating|
|9||September 1, 8:00 ET||No. 8** Michigan vs. No. 2** Alabama||ABC||7.9 Million||4.8 Rating||Cowboys Classic|
|10||October 6, 3:30 ET||No. 4** LSU vs. No. 10** Florida||CBS||7.5 Million||4.6 Rating||Florida–LSU rivalry|
Note(*): Games rate in the top six most watched games of the last 20 years.
Note(**): Rankings reflect AP Poll Standings. (All others rankings reflect BCS Standings at the time of the game)
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- Media related to 2012 NCAA Division I FBS football season at Wikimedia Commons