Cougars beat undefeated Maryland to win the Cotton Bowl

The 1976 Houston Cougars charged through the Southwest Conference en route to their first Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day, 1977. On their way to the SWC crown, the Coogs beat three top-20 teams in league play: #9 Texas A&M, #5 Texas Tech 27-19, and #20 Texas 30-0 at Memorial Stadium in Austin.

A win at Rice on November 27 clinched the conference title and a trip to Dallas. There, Houston met undefeated Maryland. The #4 Terrapins came into the game having shut out their last three opponents and had allowed just 17 points in their previous five games.

But the Cougars came out determined and scored 21 first-quarter points, all in six minutes and all on the ground. Maryland had not allowed a rushing TD in over 22 quarters; in fact, the Terps had given up 21 or more points just once in 1976, a September game at Syracuse (UM won 42-28).

But early miscues doomed them: Maryland missed a 20-yard field goal before UH defensive back Mark Mohr blocked a punt and then recovered a Terp fumble.

Alois Blackwell scored two of those first-quarter TDs and had 149 yards in the game. Maryland was a top-10 team against the run, but Houston rushed for 320 yards.

Wilson Whitley chases Manges // Photo by The Houstonian

Maryland ran for 120 yards on 40 attempts. UM’s top-three rushers combined for 107 yards (34 rushes) while UH’s second-highest, Dyral Thomas, had 104 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts.

On New Year’s Eve day, the high in Dallas reached 69 degrees, but plunged more than 50 degrees that night. The official low on New Year’s Day was 21, and the temperature at kickoff was 29.

“The cold weather doesn’t mean anything,” said Houston coach Bill Yeoman just before the game. “It’s the same way if it’s wet or any other thing. We beat Rice in 37-degree weather, and the chill factor was lower.”

Houston won 30-21 for the school’s first major New Year’s Bowl game win. The 10-2 Cougars finished 4th in the country, their highest ranking ever. See also: Video highlights from the 1977 Cotton Bowl

1st Downs1720
- Rushing714
- Passing 104
- Penalty02
Passing Yards179108
Total Plays/Yards72/29972/428


Video highlights of the 1977 Cotton Bowl

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