“That was an exceptional year in college football,” Archie Manning recalled. “There were a lot of real good teams all across the country. But I honestly felt, despite the loss to Texas (which may well have decided the national championship), that we had drawn the best team anywhere in the Sugar Bowl. Arkansas was one heck of a football team.”
At the end of the day most observers would say the Sugar Bowl had drawn two of the very best.
The spotlight was temporarily taken from superstar Manning, a mild-mannered, red-haired quarterback who also may have been the best in the country, when work-horse fullback Bo Bowen took a pitch and sideswiped defenders 69 yards to the end zone.
Arkansas missed a chance – and a field goal – by driving to the Rebel 23. Six plays later, Ole Miss was in front 14-0.
In a display of Manning’s hell-bent-for-leather style, on fourth-and-one at the 18, he hightailed it around right end, ran over two Hogs at the 15, then slashed through several more before high-stepping into the end zone.
Bill Montgomery, an outstanding quarterback in his own right, answered with an 81-yard 13-play drive. Bill Burnett, taking a pitch at the 12, got outside containment, split a couple of Rebels at the goal and scored. Bill McClard’s PAT was wide, leaving the score at 14-6.
Back came the Rebels, and shortly Cloyce Hinton kicked a Sugar Bowl record 52-yard field goal. “I’ll tell you, we were just a hot football team,” said Manning. “Everything was working for us.”
That was a good thing for Ole Miss, because every point would ultimately prove precious.
There were just under five minutes remaining until the half when Hinton made his kick. When Arkansas was held to a three-and-out, the door was opened for another Ole Miss score. From the Rebel 30, Manning eased his offense downfield, and when two Razorback defensive backs went with tight end Jim Poole across the middle, receiver Vern Studdard was open at the 15. He grabbed Manning’s pass and went in untouched. “Archie rolled away from the direction I took, and I started downfield, stopped, and came back for the pass. The backs had gone across to stop Archie and I was all alone,” Studdard said.
In the two-and-a-half minutes remaining, Montgomery furiously lashed the Razorbacks 80 yards to get back in the game. Dicus caught a 47-yard touchdown pass when the Ole Miss secondary got twisted up in its assignments. With the score at 24-12, Broyles elected to go for a two-point conversion, which failed.
“You know, we had 260 yards offense at the half,” Montgomery said, “So we couldn’t be disappointed with that aspect. We just didn’t score enough points.”
Hinton added to the Ole Miss margin with a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter, but McClard answered with a 35-yarder for Arkansas.
A pair of fourth period interceptions put the Hogs back in the hunt. Glenn Cannon, who was having a spectacular day in the Rebel secondary, picked off Montgomery in the end zone after he drove Arkansas to the Ole Miss 11.
Dennis Berner returned the favor – and the ball back to the 11 – by picking off Manning. The upshot was that in three plays Montgomery had Arkansas within five points of the Rebels. Montgomery rolled right, was hit hard by Hap Farber, and still managed to get the ball to fullback Bruce Maxwell. That cut it to 27-22.
In the final minutes, it was left to Cannon to preserve the victory for Ole Miss breaking up several passes. With less than two minutes to play, and Arkansas at the Rebel 40, Montgomery found Dicus at the 25, who made the catch but fumbled when Cannon hit him. The defender recovered. “I just hit Dicus,” Cannon said, “and when I saw the ball jump loose, I hopped on it…I knew it was over then.”
Ironically, the pass that Dicus fumbled was his sixth catch for 171 yards, breaking his own receiving yardage record from the 1969 game by two yards.
Ole Miss, in what had to be in some ways its most frustrating season, had upset its fourth Top 10 opponent. The Rebels and Arkansas each broke three Sugar Bowl records in amassing a whopping total of 954 yards. If not the most important game played that day, it was the most entertaining.
Unfortunately only a few more than the stadium crowd of 82,500 would know just what a spectacle the 1970 Sugar Bowl really was. The game drew a television rating of 8.3.
Since records had been kept, going back to 1964, it was the worst rating for any major bowl.
Story excerpted from the book “Sugar Bowl Classic: A History” by Marty Mulé, who covered the game and the organization for decades for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Miss: Bowen 69-yard run (King kick)
Miss: Manning 18-yard run (King kick)
Ark: Burnett 12-yard run (Kick failed)
Miss: Hinton 52-yard field goal
Miss: Studdard 30-yard pass from Manning (King kick)
Ark: Dicus 47-yard pass from Montgomery (Pass failed)
Miss: Hinton 36-yard field goal
Ark: McClard 36-yard field goal
Ark: Maxwell 6-yard pass from Montgomery (McClard kick)