With the losses of #1 Michigan State in the Rose Bowl and #2 Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl earlier in the day, the game had turned into a defacto national championship game, as the AP would be taking a post-bowl vote for the first time ever.
Alabama scored first on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Steve Sloan to Ray Perkins as Alabama took a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, Nebraska's Bob Churchich threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Tony Jeter to tie the game at 7. Alabama's Les Kelly scored on a 4-yard touchdown run as the Crimson Tide led 14-7. Sloan and Perkins connected for the second time of the game, as Alabama led 21-7. An 18-yard field goal before halftime gave Alabama a 24-7 lead.
In the third quarter, Churchich threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Ben Gregory as Nebraska narrowed the deficit to 24-13. Steve Bowman scored on a 1-yard touchdown run giving Alabama a 32-13 lead. In the fourth quarter, Churchich scored on a 1-yard run making it 32-20. Bowman scored on a 3-yard run as Alabama led 39-20. Churchich threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tony Jeter as the final score was Alabama 39, Nebraska 28.