1976 Independence Bowl
1234 Total
Tulsa 7063 16
McNeese State 3386 20
DateDecember 13, 1976
StadiumState Fair Stadium
LocationShreveport, Louisiana
MVPTerry McFarland (offense)
Terry Clark (defense)
Independence Bowl

The 1976 Independence Bowl was a post-season college football bowl game between the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and the McNeese State Cowboys on December 13, 1976, at State Fair Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana. McNeese State upset a heavily favored Tulsa 20–16. This was the first-ever edition of the Independence Bowl, which drew its name from the ongoing celebrations of the United States Bicentennial.[1][2]: 140 


Between 1976–1980 the Independence Bowl featured the Southland Conference champion against an at-large opponent, with the Southland team playing host.[3] McNeese State clinched the championship and spot in the bowl game after defeating Southwestern Louisiana 20–19 on November 20.[4] For the at-large opponent the bowl organizers initially pursued Rutgers, which was then 10–0 and would finish the season undefeated. Rutgers declined the invitation, feeling snubbed by more prestigious bowls.[5] Rebuffed, the organizers considered Tulsa, Cincinnati, Memphis State, Boston College, and Ball State before selecting Tulsa, co-champion of the Missouri Valley Conference.[6]

Prior to the game, coverage favored Tulsa over McNeese State due in large part to sixteen of McNeese State's players being unable to play in the bowl.[7] Ten players were declared ineligible because they had redshirted in their freshman year and were thus fifth-year seniors. At the time, NCAA rules prohibited such players from participating in postseason play. Six more players were suspended from the team for violating team and school rules.[8] The players were accused of having a girl in their dormitory room, which McNeese State then prohibited. Some newspaper accounts alleged that "sexual molestation" had occurred.[9] Even before the game was played F. A. Dry, Tulsa's head coach, had accepted the head coaching job at TCU, though he stayed on at Tulsa for the bowl game.[10]

Scoring summary

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP Golden Hurricane Cowboys
1 Golden Hurricane Thomas Bailey 1-yard touchdown run, Steve Cox kick good 7 0
1 Cowboys 42-yard field goal by Jan Peebles 7 3
2 Cowboys 34-yard field goal by Jan Peebles 7 6
3 Cowboys Mike McArthur 1-yard touchdown run, 2-point run good 7 14
3 Golden Hurricane Mel McGowen 65-yard blocked field goal returned for touchdown, kick no good (blocked) 13 14
4 Golden Hurricane 38-yard field goal by Steve Cox 16 14
4 Cowboys Oliver Hadnot 25-yard touchdown run, 2-point pass incomplete 16 20
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 16 20



  1. ^ "McNeese Upsets Tulsa In Independence Bowl". Argus-Press. December 14, 1976. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  2. ^ Otto, David (2010). Insiders' Guide to Shreveport. Globe Pequot.
  3. ^ "About the Southland". Archived from the original on 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  4. ^ "Four make claim: Most bowl bids settled, who's No. 1?". Spokesman-Review. November 22, 1976. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  5. ^ "Rutgers Votes to Skip Independence Bowl" in The Washington Post (23 November 1976). Page D6. (No further authorship information available).
  6. ^ "Rutgers win streak on line". St. Joseph News-Press. November 24, 1976. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  7. ^ "McNeese wins despite problems". The Telegraph-Herald. December 14, 1976. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  8. ^ Bonnette, Louis (October 6, 2006). "Jim Murphy remembers the 1976 McNeese State football team". CBS Sports Network. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  9. ^ "Six Gridders Accused of Molesting Girl". Youngstown Vindicator. December 4, 1976. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  10. ^ "Dry Quits Tulsa Job". Spokane Daily Chronicle. November 29, 1976. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  11. ^ "2010 Media Guide" (PDF). Independence Bowl. 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-01.