1980 Cotton Bowl Classic

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1980 Cotton Bowl Classic
1234 Total
Nebraska 7007 14
Houston 07010 17
DateJanuary 1, 1980
StadiumCotton Bowl
LocationDallas, Texas
MVPTerry Elston (QB, Houston)
David Hodge (LB, Houston)
FavoriteNebraska by 3½ points [1][2]
RefereeRobert Aillet (SEC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersLindsey Nelson (Play-by-play 1st qtr only),[3] Frank Glieber (Sideline 1st, then play-by-play), and Paul Hornung
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 1979  1981

The 1980 Cotton Bowl Classic was played on January 1 in Dallas, Texas, and matched the Houston Cougars and Nebraska Cornhuskers.[4][5]


The Cougars were co-champions of the Southwest Conference with Arkansas, who they beat midway through the season. While Arkansas was invited to the Sugar Bowl, the Cougars were invited to the Cotton Bowl Classic for the second straight year, their third in four seasons. Nebraska finished second in the Big Eight Conference for the fifth time in Tom Osborne's seventh season, after losing to Oklahoma to end the regular season. The Huskers were invited to their first Cotton Bowl in six years and eleventh straight bowl season.

Game summary[edit]

Halfback Jarvis Redwine put Nebraska on the scoreboard first with a 9-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter after an 85-yard drive. But Houston responded midway through the second quarter with their own drive, 71 yards in six plays which culminated with a touchdown run by quarterback Terry Elston that tied the score at seven each at halftime.[6]

The third quarter was scoreless and Kenny Hatfield kicked a field goal to give the Cougs a 10–7 lead with 8:25 remaining. But Nebraska recovered a Houston fumble at the 31 late in the quarter and scored six plays later on a six-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Quinn to tight end Jeff Finn to take the lead at 14–10. After the kickoff, Houston started at their own 34 with 3:48 remaining, and Elston drove his team to the Nebraska six with nineteen seconds left. It was fourth and one as Elston snapped the ball, scrambling and throwing through two defenders' hands to Eric Herring in the end zone, to give Houston the lead with twelve seconds left. Nebraska could not work a miracle of their own as the Cougars gained their second Cotton Bowl win in three years.[6][7]


First quarter

Second quarter

  • Houston - Terry Elston 8 run (Kenny Hatfield kick)

Third quarter

No scoring

Fourth quarter

  • Houston - Field goal, Hatfield 41
  • Nebraska - Jeff Finn 6 pass from Jeff Quinn (Sukup kick)
  • Houston - Eric Herring 6 pass from Elston (Hatfield kick), 0:12 remaining
Source: [4][5][6]


Statistics   Houston    Nebraska 
First Downs 18 13
Rushes–yards 61–206 41–136
Passing yards 119 91
Passes 9–19–0 11–22–1
Total yards 325 227
Punts–average 7–42.0 10–40.6
Fumbles–lost 7–3 1–1
Turnovers by 3 2
Penalties-yards 2–22 7–90
Source: [4][5][6]


Houston climbed to fifth in the final AP poll and Nebraska dropped to ninth. The Cornhuskers went to bowls for the next eighteen years under Osborne before his retirement, but not to the Cotton Bowl; they returned in 2007. The Cougars returned five years later but lost, and have not won a Cotton Bowl since this game.


  1. ^ "Latest line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 1, 1980. p. 22.
  2. ^ "Nebraska has edge in Cotton". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 1, 1980. p. 20.
  3. ^ "Laryngitis leaves Lindsey speechless". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 2, 1980. p. C2.
  4. ^ a b c "Houston can forget year-old nightmare". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. January 2, 1980. p. 3D.
  5. ^ a b c "Houston sub comes through to nip Huskers". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. January 2, 1980. p. 1, part 2.
  6. ^ a b c d "Tipped catch gives Cougars victory". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. January 2, 1980. p. 43.
  7. ^ http://media.attcottonbowl.com/resource/history/1980/rsrc/1980-Classic-Recap.pdf