1979 Cotton Bowl Classic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

1979 Cotton Bowl Classic
The Chicken Soup Game
1234 Total
Notre Dame 120023 35
Houston 713140 34
DateJanuary 1, 1979
StadiumCotton Bowl
LocationDallas, Texas
MVPQB Joe Montana (Notre Dame)
LB David Hodge (Houston)
FavoriteNotre Dame by 3 points[1][2]
RefereePete Williams (SEC)
Attendance72,000 [3] (32,500 est. actual)[4]
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersLindsey Nelson, Paul Hornung and Frank Glieber
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 1978  1980

The 1979 Cotton Bowl Classic, popularly called the Chicken Soup Game,[5] was a football game played between the University of Notre Dame and the University of Houston.[6][7] The game took place on an unusually cold day in Dallas, Texas, played the day after the city's worst ice storm in thirty years. Quarterback Joe Montana, who had the flu,[7] led Notre Dame to a come-from-behind victory in the second half after eating a bowl of chicken soup. [8] The Irish outscored the Cougars 23–0 in the fourth quarter.

The game[edit]

In the first quarter, Notre Dame scored the first 12 points of the game, but Houston scored a touchdown off a turnover. Aided by the direction of the wind, Houston gained the lead in the second quarter and led 20–12 at halftime. When the teams returned to the field to start the second half, Joe Montana remained in the locker room.[5]

During the game, Montana's body temperature had dipped to 96 °F (35.6 °C) and he had to fight off hypothermia. He was forced to retire to the locker room where the ND medical staff warmed Montana by feeding him chicken bouillon, and by covering him with warm blankets.[9]

By the fourth quarter, Houston had built a 34–12 lead; Montana returned to the field with 7:37 remaining on the game clock and was cheered actively by the Notre Dame fans.[9] Notre Dame had closed the gap to six points; with a half minute left and fourth down and one on their own 29, Houston went for the first down and was stopped.[10] With six seconds left on the eight-yard-line, Montana threw the ball out of bounds and only two seconds remained.[9]

The final play was a touchdown pass to receiver Kris Haines as time expired. Placekicker Joe Unis was forced to kick the extra point twice after a Notre Dame penalty, but was successful both times, and Notre Dame won by a point, 35–34.[11][12][13]

With a high temperature of 24 °F (−4 °C), a strong 30 mph (50 km/h) north wind impacted both the subzero wind chill and the outcome of the game;[10] all but seven of the game's 69 combined points were scored by the team defending the north end zone.[14] Because of the weather, the stadium was less than half full in the first half and as few as 7,000 remained at game's end.[4]


The game is one of the most notable games in Montana's entire football career.[9] It was his final game for Notre Dame and helped to reinforce his image with football fans as "The Comeback Kid." Six months after the game, Notre Dame put out a promotional film called Seven and a Half Minutes to Destiny. Notre Dame head coach Dan Devine called the movie a "Joe Montana film."[9]

The game has become recognized as one of the most important in the history of college bowl games.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Houston, Irish want to have fun". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 1, 1979. p. 32.
  2. ^ "Irish are 'serious' for Cougs". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 1, 1979. p. 21.
  3. ^ http://media.attcottonbowl.com/resource/history/1979/rsrc/1979-Classic-Recap.pdf 1979 Classic Recap
  4. ^ a b "Montana, Haines team up final time for Notre Dame". Pittsburgh Press. January 2, 1979. p. B4.
  5. ^ a b "The List: Greatest Bowl Games". ESPN. Archived from the original on December 19, 2008. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  6. ^ "Notre Dame hot on Dallas ice". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. January 2, 1979.
  7. ^ a b Looney, Douglas S. (January 8, 1979). "Cotton Bowl". Sports Illustrated. p. 14.
  8. ^ Anderson, Dave (January 18, 1994). "Joe Cool has coped with cold". New York Times. p. B13.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Born to be a quarterback". cnnsi.com. August 13, 1999. Archived from the original on August 9, 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2007.
  10. ^ a b "Houston's big gamble backfired". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 2, 1979. p. 17.
  11. ^ "Long-practiced pass gives Irish victory over Houston, weather". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. January 2, 1979. p. 2D.
  12. ^ Mike Jones, "Irish windfall thaws UH lead, 35–34," Dallas Morning News, January 2, 1979, http://www.whas11.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/colleges/cottonbowl/history/1979.html[permanent dead link] (accessed November 26, 2007).
  13. ^ http://media.attcottonbowl.com/resource/history/1979/rsrc/1979-Classic-Recap.pdf
  14. ^ http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/nd/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/FBRecSuppBowlRecaps.pdf

External links[edit]