1979 Fiesta Bowl
9th edition
1234 Total
Pittsburgh 3373 16
Arizona 0037 10
DateDecember 25, 1979
StadiumSun Devil Stadium
LocationTempe, Arizona
MVPMark Schubert (Pittsburgh K)
Dave Liggins    (Arizona SS)
FavoritePittsburgh by 8 to 9 points[1][2]
RefereePercy Penn (SWC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersCharlie Jones, Len Dawson
Fiesta Bowl
 < 1978  1980

The 1979 Fiesta Bowl was the ninth edition of the college football bowl game, played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona on Tuesday, December 25. Part of the 1979–80 bowl game season, it matched the tenth-ranked independent Pittsburgh Panthers and the unranked Arizona Wildcats of the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10). Favored Pittsburgh never trailed and won 16–10.[3][4][5]

This was the last of four consecutive Fiesta Bowls played on Christmas Day.


Main article: 1979 NCAA Division I-A football season


Main article: 1979 Pittsburgh Panthers football team

This was Pittsburgh's second Fiesta Bowl appearance; the first was six years earlier.


Main article: 1979 Arizona Wildcats football team

Despite finishing third in the Pac-10 with an overall record of 6–4–1, Arizona was invited; it was their first bowl appearance in eleven years.

Game summary

Televised by NBC, the game kicked off on Christmas Day shortly after 1:30 p.m. MST.[1][2]

Pittsburgh kicker Mark Schubert gave his team a lead they never relinquished with two field goals for a 6–0 lead at halftime. Arizona responded with a Brett Weber field goal, but Panther tight end Benjie Pryor caught a touchdown pass from true freshman quarterback Dan Marino to increase the lead to 13–3 at the end of three quarters.

Schubert added a third field goal, but Arizona halfback Hubert Oliver scored from a yard out to close the margin to six points at 16–10. After Pittsburgh punted the ball back, the Wildcats looked to drive for the winning points with 1:05 left. But just seven seconds later, quarterback Jim Krohn's pass was intercepted by Terry White and the Panthers won their first Fiesta Bowl.[3][4][5]

Schubert was the first kicker named offensive MVP.[6]


First quarter

Second quarter

Third quarter

Fourth quarter



Statistics Pittsburgh    Arizona   
First Downs 20 20
Yards Rushing 44–127 38–91
Yards Passing 172 226
Passing 15–29–2 18–35–3
Return Yards 37 46
Total Offense 73–299 73–317
Punts–Average 5–34.2 4–39.8
Fumbles–Lost 1–0 2–1
Turnovers 2 4
Penalties–Yards 10–89 7–85


Pittsburgh returned to the Fiesta Bowl four years later, but as of 2020 have yet to win another. Arizona finally won a bowl game in 1986, and returned to the Fiesta Bowl in 1994.


  1. ^ a b "Pittsburgh is anxious to prove team's strength". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). Associated Press. December 25, 1979. p. !C.
  2. ^ a b Axelrod, Phil (December 25, 1979). "Panthers confident for Fiesta showdown". Piitsburgh-Post Gazette. p. 73.
  3. ^ a b c d "Pittsburgh gets a kick from the Fiesta". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire service reports. December 26, 1979. p. 1D.
  4. ^ a b "Pitt's 'Missile Toe' puts 'kiss of death' on Arizona". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). Associated Press. December 26, 1979. p. 30.
  5. ^ a b "Schubert's leg gives Pitt 16-10 Fiesta Bowl win". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. December 26, 1979. p. 18.
  6. ^ "1979 Fiesta Bowl - Pittsburgh vs. Arizona". Archived from the original on November 2, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2015.