1977 Sugar Bowl

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1977 Sugar Bowl
1 2 3 4 Total
Pittsburgh 7 14 3 3 27
Georgia 0 0 3 0 3
Date January 1, 1977
Season 1976
Stadium Louisiana Superdome
Location New Orleans, Louisiana
MVP QB Matt Cavanaugh (Pittsburgh)
Attendance 76,117
United States TV coverage
Network ABC
Announcers Keith Jackson and Ara Parseghian
Sugar Bowl
 < 1975 1978

The 1977 Sugar Bowl, part of the 1976 bowl game season, took place on January 1, 1977 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana between the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Georgia Bulldogs.

Background[edit]

Pittsburgh had been ranked #9 in the preseason AP Poll, with their first game being against #11 Notre Dame, which they won 31-10, making them rise to #3 the following week. On November 6th, they finally rose to #1 with Michigan losing to Purdue. They soon beat West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl and Penn State at Three Rivers Stadium to finish the regular season undefeated, soon receiving an invite to the Sugar Bowl for the chance to win the national championship. This was the first time the Panthers had made bowl appearances in consecutive seasons since 1955-56 (with 1956 being the last year they had made the Sugar Bowl). Tony Dorsett (who had rushed for 1,948 yards) won the Heisman Trophy, the first Panther to win it. Georgia had started 4-0, but a loss to Ole Miss dropped them from #4 to #11. But the Bulldogs finished the season with six straight victories to get back to being ranked #4 along with being champion of the Southeastern Conference, their first SEC title since 1968. This was Georgia's fourth straight bowl appearance and first Sugar Bowl since 1969. This was the first year in which the SEC was the official conference tie-in to the Sugar Bowl, along with the first Sugar Bowl played on New Year's Day since 1972.[1]

Game summary[edit]

Pittsburgh took control early, driving 80 yards in 12 plays that culminated with a Matt Cavanaugh touchdown run. Seven minutes into the second quarter, Cavanaugh heaved a pass to Gordon Jones for 59 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0. Before the half ended, Tony Dorsett scored a touchdown from 11 yards out to make it 21-0. The key to their lead was the fact that Georgia utilized a 6-2 defense that focused on Dorsett exclusively, which made it easier for the receivers to catch passes since they were being given one-on-one coverage, which Pittsburgh took advantage of in the first half, passing for 185 yards while Dorsett was held to 65 yards. But in the second half, he broke through, rushing for 137 yards in the second half. A fumble on the first drive of the second half by the Panthers gave the ball to Georgia at the Panther 26, but the Bulldogs could only forward it to the Pittsburgh 7 before Allan Leavitt kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Georgia their first (and as it would turn out, only) points of the game. In the third quarter, Panther kicker Carson Long countered with a 42 field goal to make it 24-3. In the fourth quarter, he kicked a 31 yarder to make the final score 27-3. With the win, Pittsburgh was declared national champions, their first since 1937. Tony Dorsett rushed for 202 yards on 32 carries, scoring one touchdown. Running back (and future Georgia coach) Ray Goff rushed for 76 yards on 17 carries. Matt Cavanaugh threw 10-of-18 for 192 yards for one touchdown for Pittsburgh while being named MVP. Robinson threw 2-of-15 for 2 interceptions and 33 yards. [2][3]

Scoring summary[edit]

  • Pittsburgh: Cavanaugh 6-yard run (Long kick)
  • Pittsburgh: Jones 59-yard pass from Cavanaugh (Long kick)
  • Pittsburgh: Dorsett 11-yard run (Long kick)
  • Georgia: Leavitt 25-yard field goal
  • Pittsburgh: Long 42-yard field goal
  • Pittsburgh: Long 31-yard field goal

Aftermath[edit]

Majors left Pittsburgh for his alma mater Tennessee after the game ended. This remains Pittsburgh's last championship. Pittsburgh has returned once to the Sugar Bowl, while Georgia has returned six times. The two teams would meet in the Sugar Bowl in 1982.

Statistics[edit]

Statistics Pittsburgh Georgia
First Downs 24 14
Yards Rushing 288 135
Yards Passing 192 46
Total Yards 480 181
Punts-Average 5-36.8 8-42.1
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4–2
Interceptions Thrown 0 4
Penalties-Yards 6-66 4-30

References[edit]