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NCAA.com | January 1, 2019

Cotton Bowl: History and everything else you need to know

Clemson heads to the CFP national title game

One of college football's greatest bowl games played its latest edition when No. 2 Clemson beat No. 3 Notre Dame in the 83rd Cotton Bowl, 30-3.

The following is some Cotton Bowl history, including the founder of the game, when the first game was played, notable moments and the final score of every Cotton Bowl game. 

The first Cotton Bowl

The first Cotton Bowl was played in 1937 when Texas oil tycoon and real estate developer J. Curtis Sanford financed the game out of his own pocket. TCU defeated Marquette in that first game, 16-6, in front of about 17,000 fans. The game featured two of the nation's premier quarterbacks in TCU’s Slingin’ Sammy Baugh and Marquette’s Ray “Buzz” Buivid. Rice beat Colorado the next year in front of 37,000 fans.

Who plays in the Cotton Bowl

The game featured the Southwest Conference winner until the conference's disbandment in 1996. It then featured a Southeastern Conference team against a Big 12 team. However, beginning in 2014, the Cotton Bowl Classic became one of the rotating hosts of a game in the new playoff format.

A 13-member committee appointed by the College Football Playoff selects the pairings for the six bowl games. This selection process takes place on the first Sunday of December. In the years when the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is not hosting a national semifinal game, the Playoff selection committee will assign a displaced conference champion, a top-ranked champion from a non-contract conference, or another highly-ranked team as the game’s participants.

How the Cotton Bowl fits into the College Football Playoff

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic was selected on April 24, 2012, as one of six bowl games to comprise the College Football Playoff. During this 12-year agreement, the Classic is part of a rotation for the national semifinals once every three years. In addition to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, the New Year’s Six lineup includes the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual.

Notable moments from the Cotton Bowl

  • The 1954 game featured one of the most unusual plays in football history (above). Dickey Maegle of Rice was running in the open field when Tommy Lewis of Alabama came off the bench and tackled him. Even though Maegle was down at the 42-yard line, he was given credit for a touchdown.
  • Sixteen days before the first Cotton Bowl game, Dr. George I. Bennett, a blind man and a practicing Dallas chiropractor purchased the first Cotton Bowl tickets, two seats on the 50-yard line.
  • The 1947 Cotton Bowl between Arkansas and LSU would be one of several games to become known as "The Ice Bowl." It was played in a wintry mix in front of about 38,000 brave souls. The final score? 0-0.
  • The first interracial Cotton Bowl was played in 1948 between SMU and Penn State, which had not been to a bowl in the previous quarter-century. Penn State ended up staying at a Naval Air Station outside of Dallas because no Dallas hotels would allow Penn State's two African-American players to stay there.
  • In 1949, Doak Walker of SMU became the first Heisman Trophy winner to play in the Cotton Bowl.
  • In 1961, Ernie Davis, who would go on to become the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner, ran for a touchdown, caught a Cotton Bowl record 87-yard touchdown pass and intercepted a pass for a third touchdown to lead Syracuse to a 23-14 win against Texas — and the national championship.
  • In 2010, the Cotton Bowl Classic moved to Cowboys Stadium. Ole Miss beat Oklahoma State 21-7.
  • The Cotton Bowl is named in 2013 one of six bowl games to comprise the College Football Playoff. It will host the national semifinals once every three years beginning in 2015.

Information compiled from the Cotton Bowl media guide and NCAA archives.

Cotton Bowl results and winners from 1937 to today:

 
YEAR WINNER SCORE LOSER SCORE
1937 TCU 16 Marquette 6
1938 Rice 28 Colorado 14
1939 Saint Mary's (Calif.) 20 Texas Tech 13
1940 Clemson 6 Boston College 3
1941 Texas A&M 13 Fordham 12
1942 Alabama 29 Texas A&M 21
1943 Texas 14 Georgia Tech 7
1944 Texas 7 Randolph Field 7
1945 Oklahoma A&M 34 TCU 0
1946 Texas 40 Missouri 27
1947 LSU 0 Arkansas 0
1948 SMU 13 Penn State 13
1949 SMU 21 Oregon 13
1950 Rice 27 North Carolina 13
1951 Tennessee 20 Texas 14
1952 Kentucky 20 TCU 7
1953 Texas 16 Tennessee 0
1954 Rice 28 Alabama 6
1955 Georgia Tech 14 Arkansas 6
1956 Ole Miss 14 TCU 13
1957 TCU 28 Syracuse 27
1958 Navy 20 Rice 7
1959 TCU 0 Air Force 0
1960 Syracuse 23 Texas 14
1961 Duke 7 Arkansas 6
1962 Texas 12 Ole Miss 7
1963 LSU 13 Texas 0
1964 Texas 28 Navy 6
1965 Arkansas 10 Nebraska 7
1966 LSU 14 Arkansas 7
1966 * Georgia 24 SMU 9
1968 Texas A&M 20 Alabama 16
1969 Texas 36 Tennessee 13
1970 Texas 21 Notre Dame 17
1971 Notre Dame 24 Texas 11
1972 Penn State 30 Texas 6
1973 Texas 17 Alabama 13
1974 Nebraska 19 Texas 3
1975 Penn State 41 Baylor 20
1976 Arkansas 31 Georgia 10
1977 Houston 30 Maryland 21
1978 Notre Dame 38 Texas 10
1979 Notre Dame 35 Houston 34
1980 Houston 17 Nebraska 14
1981 Alabama 30 Baylor 2
1982 Texas 14 Alabama 12
1983 SMU 7 Pittsburgh 3
1984 Georgia 10 Texas 9
1985 Boston College 45 Houston 28
1986 Texas A&M 36 Auburn 16
1987 Ohio State 28 Texas A&M 12
1988 Texas A&M 35 Notre Dame 10
1989 UCLA 17 Arkansas 3
1990 Tennessee 31 Arkansas 27
1991 Miami 46 Texas 3
1992 Florida State 10 Texas A&M 2
1993 Notre Dame 28 Texas A&M 3
1994 Notre Dame 24 Texas A&M 21
1995 USC 55 Texas Tech 14
1996 Colorado 38 Oregon 6
1997 BYU 19 Kansas State 15
1998 UCLA 29 Texas A&M 23
1999 Texas 38 Mississippi State 11
2000 Arkansas 27 Texas 6
2001 Kansas State 35 Tennessee 21
2002 Oklahoma 10 Arkansas 3
2003 Texas 35 LSU 20
2004 Ole Miss 31 Oklahoma State 28
2005 Tennessee 38 Texas A&M 7
2006 Alabama 13 Texas Tech 10
2007 Auburn 17 Nebraska 14
2008 Missouri 38 Arkansas 7
2009 Ole Miss 47 Texas Tech 34
2010 Ole Miss 21 Oklahoma State 7
2011 LSU 41 Texas A&M 24
2012 Arkansas 29 Kansas State 16
2013 Texas A&M 41 Oklahoma 13
2014 Missouri 41 Oklahoma State 31
2015 Michigan State 42 Baylor 41
2015* Alabama 38 Michigan State 0
2017 Wisconsin 24 Western Michigan 16
2017** Ohio State  24 USC 7
2018 Clemson 30 Notre Dame 3
*Game played on Dec. 31; **Game played on Dec. 29

 

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