In the first quarter, Notre Dame scored on a 50 yard Oliver field goal, giving the Irish a 3-0 lead. Another Notre Dame scoring opportunity in the first quarter was foiled when Bulldog freshman Terry Hoage blocked a field goal. Hoage had been a last minute addition to the roster by coach Vince Dooley for his kick blocking ability. Due to good field position would eventually result in Georgia's Rex Robinson booting a 46 yard field goal of his own to tie the game at 3.
On the ensuing kickoff, a communication gaffe between the Irish's deep return players resulted in neither one fielding the kick which bounced at the one yard line and was recovered by Georgia's Bob Kelly. Two plays later Georgia's Herschel Walker scored on a 1 yard touchdown run as Georgia led 10-3.
In the second quarter, Walker scored on a 3 yard run making the score 17-3. In the third quarter, Notre Dame scored on a 1 yard run to make the score 17-10. Georgia's defense held on to that lead giving Georgia the victory and the 1980 National Championship.
Herschel Walker was named Sugar Bowl MVP. Bulldog defensive back Scott Woerner made several key plays throughout the day including a late game interception that sealed the win.