1977 College Football Recap
For the third time in nine years, Notre Dame opened the new calendar year in the Cotton Bowl against a No.1 team from Texas.
The first time, on Jan.1, 1970, the Longhorns won 21–17 and clinched the national championship. A year later, the Irish returned to deny Texas a second straight title, winning 24–11.
This time around on Jan.2, 1978, No.5 Notre Dame jumped out to a 24–10 lead in the first half and won easily 38–10. When the dust settled, the two teams had traded placeds and the Irish were national champs for the seventh time in the 42 years of the AP poll.
Notre Dame was able to leapfrog the other three teams in front of it when the following happened on New Year's Day: No.2 Oklahoma lost the Orange Bowl to Arkansas, No.3 Alabama won the Sugar Bowl but against a lower ranked team (Ohio State), and No.4 Michigan lost the Rose Bowl (again).
Two bold coaching moves also marked the season. Dan Devine of Notre Dame decided to put green jerseys on his team when Southern Cal came to South Bend on Oct.22. The switch worked as the Irish beat USC for the first time in four years. Lou Holtz of Arkansas made his move right before the Orange Bowl when he suspeneded three key players then went out and beat Oklahoma anyway, 31–6.
Finally, Texas running back Earl Campbell won the Heisman, marking the trophy's return to the SWC after a 20–year absence.