1972 Orange Bowl
38th Orange Bowl
National Championship Game[1]
1234 Total
Alabama 0060 6
Nebraska 141437 38
DateJanuary 1, 1972
StadiumOrange Bowl
LocationMiami, Florida
MVPJerry Tagge   (Nebraska QB)
Willie Harper (Nebraska DE)
FavoriteNebraska by 6 points [2]
RefereeR. Pete Williams (SEC)
(split crew between SEC and Big Eight)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersJim Simpson and Kyle Rote
Orange Bowl
 < 1971  1973
College Football Championship Game
 < 1969 (Dec) 1973 (Jan)

The 1972 Orange Bowl was the 38th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on Saturday, January 1. The final game of the 1971–72 bowl season, it matched the top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers of the Big Eight Conference and the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). This was a rematch of the 1966 Orange Bowl, where Alabama defeated Nebraska to win the national championship. Both teams were undefeated; Nebraska, the defending national champion, built a large lead in the first half and won 38–6.[2][3][4][5][6]


Main article: 1971 NCAA University Division football season


Main article: 1971 Alabama Crimson Tide football team


Main article: 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team

Game summary

Six-point favorite Nebraska entered the game on a 31-game unbeaten streak,[2][7] and scored first on a two-yard touchdown run by Jeff Kinney. Future Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers scored on a 77-yard punt return on the final play of the first quarter, as Nebraska led 14–0. In the second quarter, quarterback Jerry Tagge and Gary Dixon added touchdown runs of one and two yards respectively, as Nebraska led convincingly 28–0 with over eight minutes remaining in the first half. There was no additional scoring before halftime as the Husker defense stifled the Tide's previously potent Wishbone offense with All-American running back Johnny Musso.[8]

In the third quarter, Bama's Terry Davis scored on a three–yard touchdown run making the score 28–6, eliminating the shutout. Nebraska's Rich Sanger kicked a 21-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter, and a one-yard touchdown run by reserve senior QB Van Brownson made the final score 38–6.[5]

With top-ranked Nebraska's 32-point victory, the 1972 Orange Bowl was one of the most lopsided meetings of #1 vs #2, specifically in a season-ending bowl game.


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter


Statistics  Alabama  Nebraska
First Downs 16 15
Rushes–yards 58–241 47–133
Passing yards 47 159
Passes (C–A–I) 3–13–2 11–20–0
Total Offense 71–288 67–292
Punts–average 7–43.3 5–42.4
Fumbles–lost 5–2 3–2
Turnovers 4 2
Yards penalized 4–58 4–50

Final polls

Nebraska (13–0) was first in both major polls and was the consensus national champion, having defeated the next three teams in the final AP Poll released on January 3: Oklahoma, Colorado, and Alabama.[11][12][13] The Huskers earned all 55 first-place votes in the AP poll; in the UPI coaches poll released in early December, they received 29 of the 31 first-place votes, with the other two to Alabama.[14]


  1. ^ Written at New York. "Award for top team delayed". The Times-News. Twin Falls, Idaho. United Press International. December 7, 1971. Retrieved March 8, 2023. ...it was decided not to award a championship by ballot but rather to let these teams meet on the field and play for the MacArthur Bowl.
  2. ^ a b c d e Taylor, Jim (January 2, 1972). "Nebraska blast Alabama". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). p. F1.
  3. ^ a b c "Nebraska rips Tide, still No. 1". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 2, 1972. p. 1, sports.
  4. ^ a b c Reed, Delbert (January 2, 1972). "Cornhuskers kill Crimson Tide dream, 38-6". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). p. 1B.
  5. ^ a b Jenkins, Dan (January 10, 1972). "All yours, Nebraska". Sports Illustrated. p. 8.
  6. ^ "Huskers the greatest?". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 3, 1972. p. 2B.
  7. ^ "Orange coaches cautious". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 1, 1972. p. 11.
  8. ^ Grimsley, Will (January 3, 1972). "College grid power switches to Big 8". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Florida). Associated Press. p. 18.
  9. ^ a b "Game-by-game recaps: 1972" (PDF). 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl media guide. January 2019. p. 35.
  10. ^ a b "Bowl games: 1972 Orange Bowl" (PDF). 2005 Nebraska Cornhuskers football media guide. (supplement). 2005. Archived from the original on July 23, 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ Thomas, Ben (January 5, 1971). "Nebraska wins the vote as nation's best college club". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. p. 3B.,
  12. ^ "Huskers solid No. 1". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. January 4, 1972. p. 20.
  13. ^ 1970 College AP Poll Archived 2012-11-14 at the Wayback Machine cfbdatawarehouse.com
  14. ^ Madden, Bill (December 7, 1971). "Coaches agree". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). UPI. p. 32.