1978 Cotton Bowl Classic

The 1978 Cotton Bowl Classic was the 42nd edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, on Monday, January 2. Part of the 1977–78 bowl game season, it matched the top-ranked and undefeated Texas Longhorns of the Southwest Conference (SWC) and the #5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, an independent. A record crowd of 76,701 turned up to see the coronation of the Longhorns championship season, but Notre Dame surprisingly won as they dominated the Longhorns 38–10.[2][3][4][5][6]

1978 Cotton Bowl Classic
42nd Cotton Bowl Classic
1234 Total
Notre Dame 32177 38
Texas 3700 10
DateJanuary 2, 1978
StadiumCotton Bowl
LocationDallas, Texas
MVPBob Golic       (N. Dame LB)
Vagas Ferguson (N. Dame RB)
FavoriteTexas by 7 points[1]
RefereeVance Carlson (Big Eight)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersLindsey Nelson, Paul Hornung, Paul Alexander, and Don Criqui
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 1977  1979

New Year's Day was on Sunday in 1978, and the major college bowl games were played the following day.

Teams edit

Notre Dame edit

Fifth-ranked Notre Dame entered the game at 10–1. In September, they were upset by Mississippi in Jackson,[7] but had won all nine games since.

Texas edit

Texas had won all eleven games; the closest margins were in October against Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Game summary edit

Televised by CBS, the game kicked off at around 1 p.m. CST, as did the Sugar Bowl on ABC.[8]

Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell of Texas gained 116 yards on 29 carries, but was kept out of the end zone.[4] Tied at three after the first quarter, the Irish scored three touchdowns in eight minutes to lead 24–3; Texas finally got in the end zone late in the second quarter to narrow the lead to fourteen points at halftime. Notre Dame then shut out the Longhorns in the second half while scoring two more touchdowns.[2][3][4][5][6]

The 28-point loss by the Longhorns resulted in complete chaos in the final polls, with Notre Dame vaulting past #3 Alabama to win the national championship.[9][10][11]

Scoring edit

First quarter

  • Notre Dame – Dave Reeve 47-yard field goal, 11:35 remaining (after fumble recovery by Ross Browner) ND 3–0
  • Texas – Russell Erxleben 42-yard field goal, 6:07. Tie 3–3

Second quarter

  • Notre Dame – Terry Eurick 6-yard run (Reeve kick), 14:56 (after fumble recovery by Jim Browner) ND 10–3
  • Notre Dame – Eurick 10-yard run (Reeve kick), 11:37 (after fumble recovery by Willie Fry) ND 17–3
  • Notre Dame – Vagas Ferguson 17-yard pass from Joe Montana (Reeve kick), 7:28 (after interception by Doug Becker) ND 24–3
  • Texas – Mike Lockett 13-yard pass from Randy McEachern (Erxleben kick), 0:01 ND 24–10

Third quarter

  • Notre Dame – Ferguson 3-yard run (Reeve kick), 6:49 (after interception by Steve Heimkreiter) ND 31–10

Fourth quarter

  • Notre Dame – Ferguson 26-yard run (Reeve kick), 9:41 (after fake punt attempt) ND 38–10

Statistics edit

Statistics Notre Dame      Texas     
First downs 26 16
Rushing yards 53–243 50–130
Passing yards 156 160
Passing 14–32–1 11–24–3
Total offense 85–399 74–290
Fumbles–lost 0–0 3–3
Turnovers 1 6
Punts–average 5–30.4 3–40.0
Penalties–yards 4–37 1–5

Aftermath edit

Texas' loss opened the door to the national championship for several teams: second-ranked Oklahoma was soundly beaten 31–6 by #6 Arkansas in the Orange Bowl nightcap, and in between, fourth-ranked Michigan fell 27–20 to #13 Washington in the Rose Bowl.[12] That left third-ranked Alabama and #5 Notre Dame as the primary teams for the title.

Alabama felt that with their convincing 35–6 win over #9 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, they would be champions due to the losses by Texas and Oklahoma,[13] but the pollsters saw it differently. Notre Dame was voted number one in every poll. Perhaps the rout by fellow SWC member Arkansas in the Orange Bowl made the difference as it made Notre Dame's victory over Texas (who had won at Arkansas in mid-October) even more impressive.

References edit

  1. ^ "Cotton Bowl should decide who's tops". Nashua Telegraph. (New Hampshire). UPI. December 31, 1977. p. 16.
  2. ^ a b Underwood, John (January 9, 1978). "Shake down the thunder". Sports Illustrated. p. 9.
  3. ^ a b c d "Texas fumbles title and Irish fall on it". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 3, 1978. p. 2C.
  4. ^ a b c d e Mizell, Hubert (January 3, 1978). "Notre Dame corrals 'Horns, Campbell in 38-10 cruise". St. Petersburg Times. (Florida). p. 1C.
  5. ^ a b c d Loomis, Tom (January 3, 1978). "Irish put in bid for No. 1, beat Texas in all phases". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). p. 18.
  6. ^ a b c d Bock, Hal (January 3, 1978). "Devine feels Irish No. 1 after easy victory". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). p. 16.
  7. ^ "Irish stunned by Ole Miss". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. September 18, 1977. p. D1.
  8. ^ "Sports on TV". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). January 2, 1978. p. 15.
  9. ^ "AP, UPI agree – it's Notre Dame". St. Petersburg Times. (Florida). AP, UPI. January 4, 1978. p. 1C.
  10. ^ "It might not add up, but Irish are clearly No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). AP, UPI. January 4, 1978. p. 3C.
  11. ^ "January 2, 1978 - Notre Dame 38, Texas 10" (PDF). AT&T Cotton Bowl. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 28, 2020.
  12. ^ "How they fared". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). January 3, 1978. p. 6B.
  13. ^ Browning, Al (January 3, 1978). "No. 1? Bear doesn't know". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama).