College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.
American football (known as football in the United States and gridiron in some other countries) is a sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field 120 yards long by 53.33 yards wide with goalposts at each end. The offense attempts to advance an oval ball (the football) down the field by running with or passing it. They must advance it at least ten yards in four downs to receive a new set of four downs and continue the drive; if not, they turn over the football to the opposing team. Points are scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown, kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal or by the defense tackling the ball carrier in the offense's end zone for a safety. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.
American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sport of rugby football. The first game of American football was played on November 6, 1869 between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules resembling rugby and soccer. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football", established the snap, eleven-player teams and the concept of downs, and later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone and specified the size and shape of the football.
The Bowl Championship Series (BCS), in American football, is a selection system that creates five bowl match-ups involving ten of the top ranked teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), including an opportunity for the top two to compete in the BCS National Championship Game.
The BCS relies on a combination of polls and computer selection methods to determine relative team rankings, and to narrow the field to two teams to play in the BCS National Championship Game held after the other college bowl games. The American Football Coaches Association is contractually bound to vote the winner of this game as the BCS National Champion and the contract signed by each conference requires them to recognize the winner of the BCS National Championship game as the official and only Champion. The BCS was created to end split championships and for the Champion to win the title on the field between the two teams selected by the BCS. Despite this objective on one occasion it failed to produce a consensus champion, as the 2003 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with a split title.
The Associated Press (AP) College Poll provides weekly rankings of the top 25 NCAA teams in one of three Division I college sports: football, men's basketball and women's basketball. The rankings are compiled by polling sportswriters across the nation. Each voter provides his own ranking of the top 25 teams, and the individual rankings are then combined to produce the national ranking by giving a team 25 points for a first place vote, 24 for a second place vote, and so on down to 1 point for a twenty-fifth place vote. Ballots of the voting members in the AP Poll are made public.[dead link]
A college football national championship in the highest level of play in the United States, currently the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), is a designation awarded annually by various third-party organizations to their selection(s) of the best college football team(s). Division I FBS football is the only NCAA sport in which a yearly champion is not determined by an NCAA-sanctioned championship event. Because of this, it is sometimes unofficially referred to as a "mythical national championship".
Due to the lack of an official NCAA championship, determining the nation's top college football team has often engendered controversy. A championship team is independently declared by various individuals and organizations, often referred to as "selectors". These choices are sometimes not unanimous. While the NCAA has never officially endorsed a championship team, it has documented the choices of several selectors in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records. In addition, various third party analysts have independently published their own lists of what they have determined to be the most legitimate selections for each season. These are also often at odds with each other as well as individual school's claims on national championships, which, for any particular season, may or may not correlate to the selections published elsewhere.