1985 Cotton Bowl Classic
49th Cotton Bowl Classic
1234 Total
Boston College 1714014 45
Houston 77140 28
DateJanuary 1, 1985
StadiumCotton Bowl
LocationDallas, Texas
MVPSteve Strachan (FB, BC)
Bill Romanowski (LB, BC)
FavoriteBoston College by 6½ [1][2][3]
RefereeJohn McClintock (Big 8)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersLindsey Nelson, Pat Haden,
and Ara Parseghian
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 1984  1986

The 1985 Cotton Bowl Classic was the 49th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday, January 1. Part of the 1984–85 bowl game season, it matched the No. 8 Boston College Eagles (independent) and the unranked Houston Cougars of the Southwest Conference (SWC).[2][4] Boston College never trailed and won 45–28.[5][6][7][8][9]


Main article: 1984 NCAA Division I-A football season

Boston College

Main article: 1984 Boston College Eagles football team

Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie gained national attention on November 23, when he led the Eagles to a memorable 47–45 win at Miami,[10][11] in what would be called Hail Flutie. He left school as the NCAA’s all-time passing yardage leader with 10,579 yards,[4] a consensus All-American, and the first quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy in thirteen years.[12] This was BC's first Cotton Bowl appearance in 45 years, since January 1940. Boston College finished the regular season with a 9–2 record, and was the recipient of the Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy (emblematic of the 'Eastern championship' in Division I FBS).


Main article: 1984 Houston Cougars football team

Houston shared the Southwest Conference title for the first time since 1979. By virtue of their defeat of conference co-champion SMU during the season, the Cougars made their first Cotton Bowl appearance in five years. SMU defeated Notre Dame in the Aloha Bowl on December 28; the Mustangs finished with ten wins and were eighth in the final AP poll.[13] Houston was the first unranked team to represent the SWC in the Cotton Bowl in 17 years.

Game summary

The game kicked off shortly after 12:30 p.m. CST, as did the Fiesta Bowl on NBC.[14] The game time temperature in Dallas was 32 °F (0 °C) with gusty winds, freezing rain, and the artificial turf was slick.[6][7][8]

The Eagles rolled to a 31–14 lead at halftime on Flutie's three touchdown passes (to three different receivers) and a Steve Strachan 2-yard touchdown run, despite the Cougars' two quick ways of scoring touchdowns, one of which occurring when Larry Shepherd caught a Gerald Landry pass for a touchdown with 22 seconds left in the half.[15][16]

Raymond Tate narrowed the lead with his touchdown late in the third quarter. Audray McMillian intercepted a Flutie pass and returned it 25 yards to the end zone to make it 31–28 as the third quarter ended. But the Eagles scored with 5:45 remaining on a Strachan 4-yard touchdown run. Troy Stradford sealed the game with a 18-yard touchdown run with 1:06 to go in the fourth quarter as Boston College won their first Cotton Bowl.[17][18]


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter


Statistics Boston
First downs 22 15
Rushes–yards 50–357 42–202
Passing yards 180 154
Passes 13–37–2 9–29–2
Total yards 537 356
Punts–average 8–29 10–33
Fumbles–lost 2–1 3–2
Turnovers 3 4
Penalties–yards 7–64 7–66
Time of possession 34:41 25:19


Boston College improved to 10–2 and climbed to No. 5 in the final AP poll.[13] Through 2024, neither team has returned to the Cotton Bowl Classic.


  1. ^ "The latest line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 1, 1985. p. 39.
  2. ^ a b "Cotton Bowl". Pittsburgh Press. December 31, 1984. p. D3.
  3. ^ "Betting line". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). January 1, 1985. p. 15.
  4. ^ a b "Boston College, Flutie pound Houston, 45-28". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. January 2, 1985. p. 1, part 2.
  5. ^ a b c Forman, Mike (January 2, 1985). "Eagles hold on to win Cotton Bowl". Victoria Advocate. (Texas). p. 1B.
  6. ^ a b Freeman, Denne H. (January 2, 1985). "Flutie goes out a winner in Cotton Bowl, 42-28". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. B2.
  7. ^ a b Blaudschum, Mark (January 2, 1985). "BC reaches the summit with victory". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). (Dallas Morning News). p. 34.
  8. ^ a b Underwood, John (January 14, 1985). "And so it came to pass..." Sports Illustrated. p. 98.
  9. ^ "49th Classic, 1985 – 2019-20 – Past Classics". Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  10. ^ "'Hail Mary' decides it, 47-45". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. November 24, 1984. p. 3C.
  11. ^ Underwood, John (December 3, 1984). "It wasn't a fluke. It was a Flutie". Sports Illustrated. p. 22.
  12. ^ "Flutie can believe it now: the Heisman is his". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 2, 1984. p. 1B.
  13. ^ a b "It's close, but Washington is No. 2". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). wire services. January 3, 1985. p. 19.
  14. ^ "Sports menu". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). January 1, 1985. p. 20.
  15. ^ a b c Vescey, George (January 2, 1985). "Flutie ways farewell with victory, 45-28". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). (New York Times). p. 3C.
  16. ^ "Flutie struggles, but Eagles soar". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. January 2, 1985. p. D2.
  17. ^ a b c Sherrod, Blackie (January 2, 1985). "Flutie of Boston College fantastic before the flaws". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). (Dallas Morning News). p. 26.
  18. ^ "January 1, 1985 - Boston College 45, Houston 28" (PDF). AT&T Cotton Bowl.