American Football Database
1979 Cotton Bowl Classic
1 2 3 4 Total
University of Houston 7 13 14 0 34
University of Notre Dame 12 0 0 23 35
Date January 1, 1979
Stadium Cotton Bowl
Location Dallas, Texas, USA
Attendance 32,500
United States TV coverage
Network CBS
Announcers: Lindsey Nelson, Paul Hornung
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 1978  1980

The 1979 Cotton Bowl Classic, popularly called the Chicken Soup Game,[1] was a football game played between the University of Notre Dame and the University of Houston. The game took place on an unusually cold day in Dallas, Texas, played the day after Dallas's worst ice storm in 30 years. Quarterback Joe Montana, who had the flu, led Notre Dame to a come-from-behind victory in the second half after eating a bowl of chicken soup.[2]

The game

In the first quarter, Notre Dame scored the first 12 points of the game, but Houston scored a touchdown off of a turnover. Aided by the direction of the wind, Houston gained the lead in the second quarter and led 20–12 at halftime. When the teams returned to the field to start the second half, Joe Montana remained in the locker room.[1]

During the game, Montana's body temperature had dipped to 96 degrees and he had to fight off hypothermia. He was forced to retire to the locker room where the ND medical staff warmed Montana by feeding him chicken bouillon, and by covering him with warm blankets.[3]

By the fourth quarter, Houston had built a 34–12 lead over Notre Dame. Montana returned to the field with 7:37 remaining on the game clock and was cheered actively by the Notre Dame fans.[3] In the last seconds of the game, Notre Dame was behind, but had possession of the ball. With six seconds left, Montana threw the ball out of bounds, which stopped the game clock and just two seconds remained.[3]

The final play was a touchdown pass to receiver Kris Haines with 0:00 on the clock. Placekicker Joe Unis was forced to kick the extra point twice after a Notre Dame penalty, but was successful both times, and Notre Dame won the game 35–34.[4]

A strong wind from the north impacted both the temperature and the outcome of the game; nearly all of the game's 69 combined points were scored by the team defending the north end zone.


The game is one of the most notable games in Montana's entire football career (both collegiate and professional).[3] It was his final game for Notre Dame and helped to reinforce his image with football fans as "The Comeback Kid". Six-months after the game, Notre Dame put out a promotional film called Seven and a Half Minutes to Destiny. Dan Devine, Notre Dame's head coach, called the movie a "Joe Montana film".[3]

Years later, the game has become recognized as one of the most important games in the history of college bowl games.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The List: Greatest Bowl Games". ESPN. Archived from the original on 19 December 2008. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  2. Dave Anderson, "Joe Cool Has Coped With Cold." New York Times, January 18, 1994, (accessed November 26, 2007).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Born to be a quarterback". August 13, 1999. Archived from the original on 9 August 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2007.
  4. Mike Jones, "Irish windfall thaws UH lead, 35–34," Dallas Morning News, January 2, 1979, (accessed November 26, 2007).

External links