1973 Sugar Bowl

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1973 Sugar Bowl
1 2 3 4 Total
Notre Dame 6 8 7 3 24
Alabama 0 10 7 6 23
Date December 31, 1973
Season 1973
Stadium Tulane Stadium
Location New Orleans, Louisiana
MVP Tom Clements, Notre Dame QB
Referee Gene Calhoun (Big Ten)
Attendance 85,161
United States TV coverage
Network ABC
Announcers Chris Schenkel, Bud Wilkinson and Howard Cosell
Nielsen ratings 25.3
Sugar Bowl
 < 1972 (Dec) 1974

The 1973 Sugar Bowl, part of the 1973 bowl game season, took place on December 31, 1973, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, competing as a football independent. Notre Dame was victorious in by a final score of 24–23. The game received a 25.3 Nielsen Rating, making it one of the highest-rated college football games of all time. [1]



The 1973 Alabama squad finished the regular season with an 11–0 record, as conference champions and as national champions as determined by the Coaches' Poll.[2] Following their victory over Auburn, university officials announced they accepted an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl.[3] The appearance marked the sixth for Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, their 27th overall bowl game appearance and their first all-time meeting against Notre Dame.[3]

Notre Dame[edit]

The 1973 Notre Dame squad finished the regular season with an 10–0. Following their victory over Miami, university officials announced they accepted an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl.[3] The appearance marked the first for Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, and their fifth overall bowl game appearance.

Game summary[edit]

Notre Dame opened the scoring with a Wayne Bullock 6-yard touchdown run, and after a missed extra point took an early 6–0 lead.[4] In the second quarter, Alabama took the lead on a 6-yard Randy Billingsley touchdown run, only to see the Irish go up 14–7 on the following play. On the ensuing kickoff, was returned 93-yards for a touchdown by Al Hunter.[4] The Tide cut the lead to 14–10 late in the quarter on a 39-yard Bill Davis field goal.[4] In the third quarter, the teams traded touchdowns with Alabama scoring first on a 5-yard Wilbur Jackson touchdown run and Notre Dame on a 12-yard Eric Penick touchdown run to make the score 21–17 entering the final period.[4] After quarterback Richard Todd made a 25-yard touchdown reception from Mike Stock on a beautiful trick play, Davis missed the extra point to only put Alabama up 23–21.[4] The Irish responded with a 19-yard field goal by Bob Thomas to take the lead 24–23 with 4:26 remaining in the game.[4] Late in the 4th quarter Alabama pinned Notre Dame back deep in Irish territory with a punt, hoping to get the ball back within easy range of a game-winning field goal, however, on third and long Irish QB Tom Clements connected with backup TE Robin Weber on a long pass that gave the Irish a first down and allowed them to run out the clock. With their victory, the Associated Press awarded the Irish the national championship in ranking them #1 in their final poll.[5]

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP Notre Dame Alabama
1 3:19 6 plays, 64 yards 2:32 Notre Dame Wayne Bullock 6-yard touchdown run, Bob Thomas kick no good 6 0
2 7:30 7 plays, 52 yards 2:40 Alabama Randy Billingsley 6-yard touchdown run, Bill Davis kick good 6 7
2 7:17 None None Notre Dame Al Hunter 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, 2-point pass good 14 7
2 0:39 7 plays, 69 yards 2:40 Alabama 39-yard field goal by Bill Davis 14 10
3 11:02 11 plays, 93 yards 3:57 Alabama Wilbur Jackson 5-yard touchdown run, Bill Davis kick good 14 17
3 2:30 1 play, 12 yards 0:07 Notre Dame Eric Penick 12-yard touchdown run, Bob Thomas kick good 21 17
4 9:33 5 plays, 39 yards 2:14 Alabama Richard Todd 25-yard touchdown reception from Mike Stock, Bill Davis kick no good 21 23
4 4:26 11 plays, 79 yards 5:13 Notre Dame 19-yard field goal by Bob Thomas 24 23
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 24 23


  1. ^ Pennington, Bill (December 8, 2012). "Before Computer Rankings and the Superdome, There Was Notre Dame vs. Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Alabama wins National Title in UPI Poll". The Los Angeles Times. United Press International. December 5, 1973. p. B3. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Reed, Delbert (November 17, 1973). "It's official: Tide-Irish in Sugar Bowl". The Tuscaloosa News. p. B1. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "1973 Sugar Bowl". 2010 Notre Dame Football Supplement (PDF). South Bend, IN: Notre Dame Athletics Media Relations. 2010. p. 116. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Final word in polls: Notre Dame #1". The Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. January 3, 1974. p. 13. Retrieved January 25, 2011.