Notre Dame came into this game with an 8-2 record, having won eight straight after dropping their first two games and was headed to the Cotton Bowl. For three quarters, USC moved the ball at will and was overwhelming the Irish. Trailing 24-6, Irish quarterback Joe Montana found his touch in the fourth quarter and led a spectacular comeback which saw Notre Dame take a 25-24 lead with 45 seconds remaining. Aided by a questionable call, the Trojans moved into field goal range and with four seconds left, Frank Jordan drilled the game winner 27-25. Montana would work his magic one last time in the Cotton Bowl.