Matt Cavanaugh named MVP of Sugar Bowl for Pitt’s national championship

Matt Cavanaugh, shown as he quarterbacks the University of Pittsburgh football team

AP Photo

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (WKBN) – The top ranked Pitt Panthers defeated Georgia, 27-3, in the 1977 Sugar Bowl to win the consensus national championship. Pitt, coached by Johnny Majors (who would leave for his alma-mater Tennessee after the game), finished with a perfect 12-0 mark.

The game’s Most Valuable Player was Panther quarterback Matt Cavanaugh, the Chaney graduate. Cavanaugh opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run. He also tossed a 59-yard score to Gordon Jones in the second quarter. He finished by passing for 192 yards on 10 of 18.

Cavanaugh was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1978 NFL Draft by New England. Cavanaugh was on three Super Bowl championship teams – twice as a player (San Francisco and New York Giants) and once as an assistant coach (Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator).

Pitt’s offense featured future NFL Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett – who ran for 202 yards on the ground in their memorable Bowl game.

Matt Cavanaugh, Junior/QB
1976 – 1046 yards, 59.1%, 9 TDs

Pittsburgh’s 1976 Results
Panthers 27 Georgia 3 (Sugar Bowl)
Panthers 24 Penn State 7
Panthers 24 West Virginia 16
Panthers 37 Army 7
Panthers 23 Syracuse 13
Panthers 45 Navy 0
Panthers 36 Miami, FL 19
Panthers 27 Louisville 6
Panthers 44 Duke 31
Panthers 21 Temple 7
Panthers 42 Georgia Tech 14
Panthers 31 Notre Dame 10

Countdown to College Football
August 14 – Top sports star in 1942 wins Heisman
August 15 – Before politics, Traficant started at QB for Pitt
August 16 – Roger Staubach meets Youngstown State
August 17 – “Best linebacker I ever coached” says Woody Hayes
August 18 – Sherman “Tank” runs wild for Miami of Ohio
August 19 – Sugar Bowl MVP aids Pitt in title game
August 20 – Lombardi award winner called New Castle home
August 21 – Walk-on Karlis kicks for Cincinnati
August 22 – K-State registers 1st bowl victory; Coleman named MVP
August 23 – Burke’s 400-yard game lifts Michigan State past Brady & Michigan
August 24 – Clarett shines for Buckeyes in memorable season
August 25 – Syracuse’s workhorse from Struthers
August 26 – Missouri’s dual-threat quarterback boosts Tigers to top Nebraska
August 27 – Penn State QB guides Nittany Lion faithful to Rose Bowl

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