|1972 Orange Bowl|
|38th Orange Bowl|
National Championship Game
|Date||January 1, 1972|
|MVP||Jerry Tagge (Nebraska QB)|
Willie Harper (Nebraska DE)
|Favorite||Nebraska by 6 points |
|Referee||R. Pete Williams (SEC)|
(split crew between SEC and Big Eight)
|United States TV coverage|
|Announcers||Jim Simpson and Kyle Rote|
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). Both teams were undefeated; Nebraska, the defending national champion, built a large lead in the first half and won 38–6.
Main article: 1971 NCAA University Division football season
Main article: 1971 Alabama Crimson Tide football team
Main article: 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team
Six-point favorite Nebraska entered the game on a 31-game unbeaten streak, 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.