Cotton Bowl



Boston College 45

Houston 28

BC Fight Song


Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie became the seventh Heisman Trophy winner to make a New Year’s Day appearance in the Cotton Bowl. With Flutie came the eyes of the nation. Throughout the year, the 5-9 superstar pulled off miracle after miracle, and by the time he and Boston College had reached Dallas, the name Doug Flutie and his school were virtual household words (video). The most unforgettable play of the 1984 college football season involved Boston College. It truly was a miracle. Miami (Fla.) had just taken a 45-41 lead with 28 seconds left to play. At that point, it looked hopeless for the Eagles, but Flutie went to work. On the game’s last play, he pulled off the incredible. As the clock expired, Flutie took the snap and rolled to his right, stopped and uncorked a 48-yard “Hail Mary” pass to Gerard Phelan in the end zone. Somehow, Phelan made the catch as he fell to the ground, and Boston College posted an amazing 47-45 victory over the defending national champions. It was that kind of season for the Eagles.

While the “Magic Flutie” was driving Boston College to a 9-2 season in the East, Houston was involved in one of the wildest championship scrambles in the history of the Southwest Conference. Heading into the season’s final weekend, five teams were in contention for the title. Yet, waiting until the last minute to decide things had become par for the course in the SWC. Since 1959, 12 conference championships had gone down to the final week. But, this was the tightest race ever, and when it was over, Houston had secured the coveted host role in the Cotton Bowl. So, the stage was set for the 49th Classic. It was bound to be a record breaking performance... and it was.

Flutie opened the floodgates early. To begin the Eagles’ second possession, the Heisman winner launched a 63-yard bomb to Kelvin Martin, sending BC in front, 7-0. Minutes later, Flutie went to the air again, this time to Troy Stradford over the middle for eight yards and a touchdown. And before the game was 30 minutes old, Flutie had tied a long-standing Classic record, tossing his third touchdown pass, a 13-yarder to Phelan, his clutch receiver. Houston also jumped into the record book in the first half when Earl Allen returned the Eagles' third kickoff 98 yards for the Cougars’ first score (video).


Quarterback Gerald Landry led Houston back to the end zone 22 seconds before the half, hitting Larry Shepherd for 15 yards. At intermission, the Eagles held a commanding 31-14 lead. But, the third quarter belonged totally to Houston. Fullback Raymond Tate crashed over from the two with four minutes left to make it 31-21. Less than a minute later, safety Audrey McMillian picked off a Flutie pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown, drawing the Cougars within three, 31-28. Houston appeared to be in high gear and on the road to a major upset. But, the Cougars never could deliver the knockout punch.

Momentum shifted back to Boston College in the fourth quarter. With 9:46 left to play, the Eagles launched the drive that would dash the Cougars’ hopes of an upset. The 44-yard drive consisted of nine consecutive rushing plays, Steve Strachan carried over from the four with just under six minutes left to push BC back to a comfortable 38-28 lead. Stradford then sealed the door shut moments later with his second touchdown of the afternoon, galloping 18 yards with 1:08 on the clock.

Stradford’s run propelled the Eagles to a 45-28 victory and boosted his rushing total for the day to 196, the second highest rushing performance ever in the Cotton Bowl. From the start there was little doubt that this game was destined to go down as one of the wildest offensive seminars the Classic had ever seen.


Flutie and the BC offense dominated the day.


 T.J. Turner moves in on Doug Flutie

Houston quarterback Gerald Landry.


Stradford led BC.

Tate led Houston rushers.


Attendance- 67,381

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
BC- Martin 63 pass from Flutie
BC- Stradford 8 pass from Flutie (Snow kick)
UH- Allen 98 kickoff return (Clendenen kick)
BC- FG Snow 31

Second Quarter
BC- Phelan 13 pass from Flutie (Snow kick)
BC- Strachan 2 run (Snow kick)
UH- Shepherd 15 pass from Landry (Clendenen kick)

Third Quarter
UH- Tate 2 run (Clendenen kick)
UH- McMillian 25 interception return (Clendenen kick)

Fourth Quarter
BC- Strachan 4 run (Snow kick)
BC- Stradford 18 run (Snow kick)

Individual Statistics

BC- Stradford 20-196, Strachan 23-91, Doug Flutie 4-51
UH- Tate 10-71, Landry 22-66, Pierson 8-17

BC- Flutie 13-37-180
UH- Landry 9-29-154

BC- Phelan 7-94, Martin 1-63, Stradford 4-16
UH- Hilton 5-97, Shepherd 2-47