1965 Cotton Bowl Classic
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Date January 1, 1965
Season 1964
Stadium Cotton Bowl
Location Dallas, Texas
MVP Ronnie Caveness, Arkansas

Fred Marshall, Arkansas

Attendance 75,000
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 1964  1966 (Jan)

The 1965 Cotton Bowl Classic was a post-season college football bowl game with national championship implications[1] between the Southwest Conference champion Arkansas Razorbacks[2] and the champions of the Big 8, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.[2] Arkansas defeated Nebraska, 10-7 in front of 75,000 spectators, to win their first national title.[3][4][5]



The Razorbacks stormed into Dallas after going 10-0 and winning the Southwest Conference.[2] The Hogs defeated #1 Texas 14-13 in Austin to clinch the bowl berth, and the conference championship. Longhorn coach Darrell Royal went for two in the game and failed, giving the game, conference, bowl bid, and later the national crown to the Razorbacks.

Razorback guard Ronnie Caveness was named an All-American. Ken Hatfield again led the nation in punt return yards, with 518. Tom McKnelly scored 45 points kicking 27 extra points and 6 field goals, which tied him with LSU's Doug Moreau for fourth place nationally.

Arkansas had also entered the bowl season on a sour note, losing bowl games in 1961, 1962, and 1963.


Nebraska went 9-1, losing only a 17-7 contest to Oklahoma. The Huskers previous bowl trips were split at 2-2, with the two most recent contests being Nebraska victories.

Game summary

Arkansas and Nebraska met for the first time in this game in Dallas, Texas. Arkansas' number-one rated defense was giving up only 5.7 points per game, where Nebraska's #7 scoring offense was scoring 24.9 points per contest.

A standing room only crowd watched as the Hogs opened the scoring on a Tom McKnelly field goal, but the Huskers responded with a Harry Wilson punching it in from one yard out. The third quarter passed with no scoring before Arkansas quarterback Fred Marshall took over in the fourth quarter. Engineering an 80 yard drive with little time, Marshall pitched to Bobby Burnett, who scampered in from the three yard line with the game's final touchdown.


The Razorbacks were selected as national champions by the Football Writers Association of America and the Helms Athletic Foundation as the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide lost their bowl game against the Texas Longhorns in the Orange Bowl.[6][7] Because the final AP and Coaches (UPI) Polls were released before bowl games were played at the time, the Crimson Tide was selected national champions by the AP and Coaches (UPI) Polls.[8] Because of the controversy, the AP Poll decided to wait until after the bowl games to select their champion in the 1965 season.

Arkansas improved to 3-4-2 in bowls with the win, while Nebraska's record in the postseason dropped to 2-3. Nebraska ended sixth in the AP poll, while Arkansas ended the season second despite being the only undefeated team.[9]

Jerry Jones, the Arkansas co-captain, went on to build the stadium where the Cotton Bowl Classic is now played.

Ken Hatfield of Arkansas returned to the Cotton Bowl Classic in 1989 as the Razorbacks head coach, where Arkansas was defeated by UCLA (quarterbacked by Troy Aikman whom Jones signed for the Dallas Cowboys.)


  1. Robertson, Walter. "Porkers, Longhorns Bowling Champs." 1/2/1965. Story. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved on February 19, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Major Conference Champions." 1964 SWC Champions. Retrieved on July 13, 2008.
  3. "2009 AT&T Cotton Bowl-Past Classics." History. The official site of the 2009 Cotton Bowl Classic. Retrieved on February 19, 2009
  4. "Arkansas 10, Nebraska 7." Summary. Retrieved on February 19, 2009.
  5. "1964 College Football Recap." Arkansas- 1964 National Champions. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.
  6. "All-Time Grantland Rice Trophy Winners". Football Writers Association of America. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  7. Kirlin, Bob. "Helms Athletic Foundation/Bill Schroeder National Champions of College Football 1883-1982". Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  8. Kirlin, Bob. "Coaches' polls (UPI 1950-1990, CNN/USA Today 1991-present)". Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  9. "Final AP Top 10." 1964 AP Poll. Retrieved on July 11, 2008.
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