|1966 Cotton Bowl Classic|
|31st Cotton Bowl Classic|
|Date||December 31, 1966|
|MVP||Kent Lawrence (Georgia TB)|
George Patton (Georgia T)
|Favorite||Georgia by 6½ to 7 points|
|Referee||Harold Matthews (SWC)|
(split crew: SWC, SEC)
|United States TV coverage|
|Announcers||Jack Drees, Pat Summerall|
The 1966 Cotton Bowl Classic (December) was the 31st edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, on December 31.[a] It matched the No. 10 SMU Mustangs of the Southwest Conference (SWC) and the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).[b] Kickoff for the Saturday game was 1:30 p.m. CST and it was televised by CBS.
This was the first playing of the Cotton Bowl Classic in December—the "1967 game" was moved to New Year's Eve because New Year's Day was a Sunday in 1967. The decision to move the game had been announced in January 1966. The other major bowls (Sugar, Orange, Rose) were played on January 2.
Main article: 1966 NCAA University Division football season
Main article: 1966 SMU Mustangs football team
The #10 Mustangs (8–2) had won the Southwest Conference (SWC) championship (6–1) for the first time since 1948, led by fifth-year head coach Hayden Fry. They won all five games at the Cotton Bowl, their home stadium through 1978.
Main article: 1966 Georgia Bulldogs football team
Fourth-ranked Georgia (9–1) shared the Southeastern Conference (SEC) title (6–0) with #3 Alabama, with a one-point loss to Miami as their only blemish. They completed the regular season with a rivalry win over previously undefeated Georgia Tech. Led by Vince Dooley, in the third of his 25 seasons as head coach, the Bulldogs were a seven-point favorite. It was their first appearance in a major bowl in seven years.
On the second play from scrimmage, Georgia's Kent Lawrence ran 74 yards for a touchdown. SMU responded with a field goal later in the quarter, but Georgia scored ten more points (highlighted by a Billy Payne touchdown catch from Kirby Moore) to lead 17–3. Mike Richardson of SMU scored a touchdown from a yard out to narrow the lead, but the kick was blocked, and it was 17–9 at halftime.
Those were SMU's last points, as Georgia held the Mustangs in check the rest of the game. The Bulldogs scored once more in the fourth quarter, on a four-yard Ronnie Jenkins touchdown run, to seal the game. Ultimately, it was Georgia's rushing attack that won the game for the Bulldogs, who had 244 more rushing yards than the Mustangs, who could only muster forty.