An added bonus to the 1988 Cotton Bowl was Notre Dame’s Tim Brown, a Dallas native
and the 53rd winner of the Heisman Trophy. Brown’s presence marked the third time in
four seasons the Heisman winner would play in the Cotton Bowl. He also was the Irish’s
seventh Heisman winner, but the first ever to play in a bowl game.
Brown and the Irish were the talk of the town, and the excitement led right up to kickoff.
The game was barely three minutes old when Brown delivered. Having returned the
opening kickoff 37 yards, Brown helped Notre Dame gain an early lead when quarterback
Terry Andrysiak hit his All-America receiver with a 17-yard scoring pass.
Down 7-0, the Aggies countered on Scott Slater’s 26-yard field goal on the final play of
the first quarter, but at that point the game belonged clearly to Notre Dame. The Irish took
the ensuing kickoff and marched 51 yards for
Ted Gradel’s 36-yard field goal and a 10-3
Four minutes later, Notre Dame was on
the move again. Driving from their own 20.
Andrysiak and Brown quickly moved the Irish
back into scoring position. On second down
at the A&M 18, Andrysiak dropped back to
pass and his target was tight end Andy Heck.
A&M’s Alex Morris read the play and made a
leaping interception in the corner of the end
zone for what proved to be the key play of the
The Aggies seized the opportunity and
stormed through the Notre Dame defense,
needing only six plays to move 80 yards and
tie the game. Freshman running back Darren
Lewis ended the drive, surprising the Irish
defense by throwing 24 yards to Tony Thompson for the touchdown.
Things got worse for Notre Dame. On
their first play following the A&M score, the
Irish fumbled the ball back to the Aggies. Tony
Jones made the recovery at the Notre Dame
21 and four plays later, freshman running back
Larry Horton carried two yards for the go-ahead score. A successful two-point conversion pushed the Aggies to an 18-10 half-
time lead. Texas A&M didn’t let up in the second half. Quarterback Bucky Richardson,
another one of the Aggies’ talented freshmen, scored twice to ice the game, and Slater added another field goal.
Taking a cue from the offense, Aggie defenders began to dominate, setting up four of A&M’s six scores with turnovers. The A&M “Wrecking Crew,” composed of linebackers Adam Bob,
Aaron Wallace, Dana Batiste, and John Roper, and noseguard Sammy O’Brient,
smothered the Notre
Dame attack. After
catching six passes
for 105 yards in the
game’s first 22 minutes, Brown was shut down completely and did
not make another reception following Morris’ key interception. In the fourth quarter, he was ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct.It
was a decisive victory for A&M, 35-10.