1978 Cotton Bowl Classic

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1978 Cotton Bowl Classic
1234 Total
Notre Dame 32177 38
Texas 3700 10
DateJanuary 2, 1978
StadiumCotton Bowl
LocationDallas, Texas
MVPRB Vagas Ferguson
(Notre Dame)
LB Bob Golic
(Notre Dame)
RefereeVance Carlson (Big Eight)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersLindsey Nelson, Paul Hornung, Paul Alexander, and Don Criqui
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 1977  1979

The 1978 Mobil Cotton Bowl Classic was the 42nd edition of the college football bowl game, played on Monday, January 2 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The bowl game featured the independent Notre Dame Fighting Irish versus the Southwest Conference champion Texas Longhorns. A record crowd of 76,701 turned up to see the coronation of the Longhorns championship season, but fifth-ranked Notre Dame spoiled everything as they dominated the Longhorns 38–10.[1][2][3]

Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell gained 116 yards on 29 carries, but was kept out of the end zone.[3] Tied at three after the first quarter, the Irish scored three touchdowns in eight minutes and led 24–10 at halftime, then shut out the Longhorns in the second half.[1] The loss by the Longhorns resulted in complete chaos in the final polls, with Notre Dame vaulting past Alabama to win the national championship.[4][5][6]

Scoring summary[edit]

First Quarter[edit]

  • Notre Dame - Dave Reeve 47-yard field goal, 11:35 remaining (this set up by a fumble recovery by Ross Browner)
  • Texas - Russell Erxleben 42-yard field goal, 6:07 remaining.

Second Quarter[edit]

  • Notre Dame - Terry Eurick 6 yard touchdown run (Reeve kick), 14:56 remaining (set up by a fumble recovery by Jim Browner)
  • Notre Dame - Eurick 10 yard touchdown run (Reeve kick), 11:37 remaining (this happening after a fumble recovery by Willie Fry)
  • Notre Dame - Vagas Ferguson 17-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana (Reeve kick), 7:28 (This occurring after a pass interception by Doug Becker)
  • Texas - Mike Lockett 13-yard touchdown pass from Randy McEachern (Erxleben kick), 0:01 remaining

Third Quarter[edit]

  • Notre Dame - Ferguson 3-yard touchdown run (Reeve kick), 6:49 remaining (this happening after a pass interception by Steve Heimkreiter)

Fourth Quarter[edit]

  • Notre Dame - Ferguson 26-yard touchdown run (Reeve kick), 9:41 remaining (after a fake punt attempt)


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 Washington in the Rose Bowl.[7] That left third-ranked Alabama and fifth-ranked Notre Dame as the primary teams for the title. Alabama felt that with their convincing win, they would be champions due to the losses by Texas and Oklahoma,[8] but the pollsters saw it differently. Notre Dame was voted number one in every poll. Perhaps the victory by fellow Southwest Conference member Arkansas in the Orange Bowl made the difference as it made Notre Dame's victory over Texas (who had beaten Arkansas 13–9 in October) even more impressive.


Statistics N. D. Texas
First Downs 26 16
Rushing Yards 243 131
Passing Yards 156 160
Total Yards 399 291
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-3
Penalties-Yards 4-37 1-5
Punts-Average 5-30.4 3-40.0

McEachern of Texas threw three interceptions, while Montana of Notre Dame threw one.


  1. ^ a b Underwood, John (January 9, 1978). "Shake down the thunder". Sports Illustrated: 9.
  2. ^ "Texas fumbles title and Irish fall on it". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 3, 1978. p. 2C.
  3. ^ a b Mizell, Hubert (January 3, 1978). "Notre Dame corrals 'Horns, Campbell in 38-10 cruise". St. Petersburg Times. (Florida). p. 1C.
  4. ^ "AP, UPI agree – it's Notre Dame". St. Petersburg Times. (Florida). AP, UPI. January 4, 1978. p. 1C.
  5. ^ "It might not add up, but Irish are clearly No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). AP, UPI. January 4, 1978. p. 3C.
  6. ^ http://media.attcottonbowl.com/resource/history/1978/rsrc/1978-Classic-Recap.pdf
  7. ^ "How they fared". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). January 3, 1978. p. 6B.
  8. ^ Browning, Al (January 3, 1978). "No. 1? Bear doesn't know". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama).