1978 Cotton Bowl Classic

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1978 Cotton Bowl Classic
1 2 3 4 Total
Notre Dame 3 21 7 7 38
Texas 3 7 0 0 10
Date January 2, 1978
Season 1977
Stadium Cotton Bowl
Location Dallas, Texas
MVP RB Vagas Ferguson (Notre Dame)
LB Bob Golic (Notre Dame)
Referee Vance Carlson (Big Eight)
Attendance 76,701
United States TV coverage
Network CBS
Announcers Lindsey 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 January 2, 1978, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The bowl game featured the Notre Dame Fighting Irish versus the Southwest Conference champion Texas Longhorns. A record crowd 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. The loss by the Longhorns resulted in complete chaos in the polls, with Notre Dame vaulting past Alabama to win the national championship.[1]

Scoring summary

First Quarter

  • 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

  • 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 fumblerecovery 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

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

Fourth Quarter

  • 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. However, second-ranked Oklahoma was beaten 31–6 by Arkansas in the Orange Bowl, and fourth-ranked Michigan was beaten 27–20 by Washington in the Rose Bowl. That left third-ranked Alabama and fifth-ranked Notre Dame as the teams left standing. Alabama felt that if they won, they would be champions due to the losses by Texas and Oklahoma, 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 Notre Dame 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