1986 Cotton Bowl Classic
50th Cotton Bowl Classic
1234 Total
Auburn 7630 16
Texas A&M 123615 36
DateJanuary 1, 1986
StadiumCotton Bowl
LocationDallas, Texas
MVPDomingo Bryant (A&M SS)
Bo Jackson    (Auburn RB)
FavoriteAuburn by 2 points[1][2]
RefereeSam Maphis (Big Eight)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersBrent Musburger,
Ara Parseghian
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 1985  1987

The 1986 Cotton Bowl Classic was the 50th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, January 1. Part of the 1985–86 bowl game season, it matched the sixteenth-ranked Auburn Tigers of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Texas A&M Aggies of the Southwest Conference (SWC).[1] A slight underdog, Texas A&M won by twenty points, 36–16.[3][4][5][6]


Main article: 1985 NCAA Division I-A football season


Main article: 1985 Auburn Tigers football team

Auburn was highlighted by running back Bo Jackson, who rushed for 1,786 yards and won the Heisman Trophy for a team that at one point was ranked #1 before losing to Tennessee September 28. The Tigers finished 8–3, but their 3-3 conference record was only good enough for sixth in the SEC, finishing behind the three teams that had beaten them (Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama).

Texas A&M

Main article: 1985 Texas A&M Aggies football team

Jackie Sherrill was in his fourth year as head coach of the Aggies: in his previous three years, A&M finished 16–16–1. They won the Southwest Conference championship for the first time since 1976; their previous appearance in the Cotton Bowl was eighteen years earlier in 1968.

Game summary

Televised by CBS, the game kicked off shortly after 12:30 p.m. CST, as did the Fiesta Bowl on NBC.[1]

Bo Jackson started the scoring for Auburn with a touchdown run early in the game after a fumble recovery. But A&M responded with their own touchdown run by Harry Johnson, and they scored just three minutes later, but it was only 12–6 A&M, due to a missed extra point and a failed conversion attempt. Jackson stuck back for Auburn by catching a 73-yard touchdown pass from Pat Washington to give Auburn the lead again, though they missed the conversion attempt. Scott Slater kicked a 26-yard field goal to give A&M the lead again at halftime, 15–13.

Anthony Toney increased A&M's lead with a two-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, but another failed conversion attempt meant it was still a one possession lead at 21–13. Auburn mustered a field goal by Chris Johnson to make it 21–16 entering the fourth quarter. Auburn drove to the A&M six-yard line as the fourth quarter began, but they were stuffed four times. Auburn was given another chance when A&M punted, but Jackson was stuffed again at A&M's 27. From that point on, A&M took control. With 2:22 to go, Keith Woodside caught a touchdown pass, as they also succeeded in gaining the two-point conversion. After an interception seconds later, Anthony Toney added on with his second rushing touchdown of the day to make it 36–16 as time expired.[3][4][5][6][7]


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter

Outstanding players of the game


Statistics    Auburn    Texas A&M
First Downs 16 21
Yards Rushing 54–198 48–186
Yards Passing 154 292
Passing (C–A–I) 7–17–2 16–26–1
Total Offense 71–352 74–478
Return Yards 48 51
Punts-Average 5-43.8 5–45.0
Fumbles-Lost 2–1 1–1
Turnovers 3 2
Penalties-Yards 1–5 5–45
Time of possession 30:46 29:14


Texas A&M played in the next two Cotton Bowls (1987, 1988), winning the latter. Auburn went on to five more consecutive bowl games under Dye before he resigned after the 1992 season. They returned to the Cotton Bowl 21 years later, and defeated Nebraska, 17–14.


  1. ^ a b c "Today's bowl games: Cotton". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 1, 1986. p. 5C.
  2. ^ "The latest line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 1, 1986. p. 36.
  3. ^ a b c d Hoffer, Richard (January 2, 1986). "Not to be Bo-ed over, Texas A&M rips". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). (Los Angeles Times). p. 3B.
  4. ^ a b c d Forman, Mike (January 2, 1986). "Aggies stop Bo, win Cotton Bowl". Victoria Advocate. (Texas). p. 1B.
  5. ^ a b c d "Aggies stop Jackson in Cotton Bowl". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Knight News Service. January 2, 1986. p. 24.
  6. ^ a b McMillan, Tom (January 2, 1986). "Vindication". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 20.
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)