1978 Sugar Bowl

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1978 Sugar Bowl
1234 Total
Ohio State 0006 6
Alabama 013814 35
DateJanuary 2, 1978
StadiumLouisiana Superdome
LocationNew Orleans, Louisiana
MVPJeff Rutledge (Alabama QB)
FavoriteAlabama by 1 point [1][2]
RefereePercy Penn (SWC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersKeith Jackson and Ara Parseghian
Sugar Bowl
 < 1977  1979

The 1978 Sugar Bowl, part of the 1977 bowl game season, took place on January 2, 1978, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.[3] The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Ohio State Buckeyes of the Big Ten Conference.[4] The teams were led by their respective hall of fame head coaches, Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes,[5] who were the winningest active coaches. Slightly favored,[1][2] third-ranked Alabama won in a rout, 35–6.[4][6]



Alabama finished the regular season as SEC champions with a record of 10–1; the only loss was at Nebraska (31–24) in week two.[7] On November 19, bowl officials announced that Alabama would face Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.[8] The appearance marked the eighth for Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and their 31st overall bowl appearance. It was the Tide's second game against a Big Ten opponent, the first was at Wisconsin in the 1928 regular season.[8][5]

Ohio State[edit]

Ohio State finished the regular season as co-champions of the Big Ten with a record of 9–2. Their only defeats were to Oklahoma by a point (29–28) on a disputed late field goal in week three and at rival Michigan Wolverines (14–6) to close the regular season. On November 19, bowl officials announced that Michigan would play in the Rose Bowl and that Ohio State would face Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.[8][9] The appearance marked the first for Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, and their 12th overall bowl appearance.[8] It was the Buckeyes' first game against an SEC team since 1935,[5] when they defeated Kentucky in the season opener.

Game summary[edit]

After a scoreless first quarter Alabama scored the first points of the evening on a one-yard Tony Nathan touchdown run to cap a 10-play, 76-yard drive.[10] On their next offensive possession, Bama scored again on a 27-yard Jeff Rutledge touchdown pass to Bruce Bolton to take a 13–0 lead at the half.[10]

In the third quarter, Rutledge had his second touchdown on a 3-yard pass to Rick Neal. Following a successful two-point conversion pass to Nathan, Alabama led 21–0, the score at the quarter's end.[10] The Buckeyes scored their only points of the game early in the fourth when Rod Gerald threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Jim Harrell, but failed on the two-point try and the score was 21–6.[10] Bama closed the game with a pair of touchdown runs, the first from one yard by Major Ogilvie, and the second by Johnny Davis on a seven-yard run to make the final score 35–6.[10]

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP Ohio State Alabama
2 11:31 10 plays, 76 yards Alabama Tony Nathan 1-yard touchdown run, Roger Chapman kick good 0 7
2 4:08 11 plays, 76 yards Alabama Bruce Bolton 27-yard touchdown reception from Jeff Rutledge, Roger Chapman kick no good 0 13
3 1:13 13 plays, 67 yards Alabama Rick Neal 3-yard touchdown reception from Jeff Rutledge, 2-point pass good 0 21
4 13:34 Ohio State Jim Harrell 38-yard touchdown reception from Rod Gerald, 2-point pass failed 6 21
4 6:30 14 plays, 84 yards Alabama Major Ogilvie 1-yard touchdown run, Roger Chapman kick good 6 28
4 5:09 4 plays, 24 yards Alabama Johnny Davis 7-yard touchdown run, Roger Chapman kick good 6 35
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 6 35



While #3 Alabama won easily, top-ranked Texas and #2 Oklahoma were both upset by large margins in their bowl games. Fifth-ranked Notre Dame defeated Texas 38–10 in the Cotton Bowl and gained the top spot in both final polls.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b Browning, Al (January 2, 1978). "Bryant: Worthy of being here?". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). p. 11.
  2. ^ a b Gugger, John (January 2, 1978). "Emotion is lacking in Sugar Bowl game". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). p. 23.
  3. ^ a b "Hungry Tide wanted Sugar more and got it easily". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. January 3, 1978. p. 2C.
  4. ^ a b Putnam, Pat (January 9, 1978). "The Bear and Bama cast their ballot". Sports Illustrated. p. 10.
  5. ^ a b c "Coaches sweet on Sugar". Milwaukee Sentinel. wire services. January 2, 1978. p. 5, part 2.
  6. ^ "Buckeyes blown out in 35-6 'Bama rout". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 3, 1978. p. 20.
  7. ^ "Huskers upset Tide". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. September 18, 1977. p. D4.
  8. ^ a b c d Hayes, Hal (November 20, 1977). "It's Bear vs. Woody on Bourbon Street". The Tuscaloosa News. p. B1. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  9. ^ "Michigan defense rosy beating Ohio State, 14–6". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. November 20, 1977. p. D2.
  10. ^ a b c d e "How Bama won Sugar". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). January 3, 1978. p. 12. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  11. ^ "AP, UPI agree – it's Notre Dame". St. Petersburg Times. (Florida). AP, UPI. January 4, 1978. p. 1C.
  12. ^ "It might not add up, but Irish are clearly No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). AP, UPI. January 4, 1978. p. 3C.