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Thursday, October 23, 2008
Updated: October 28, 11:01 AM ET
Cold moments: When weather and sports collide

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Cotton Bowl

8. 1979 Cotton Bowl, Notre Dame vs. Houston

Date: Jan. 1, 1979

Weather: Dallas is encased in an ice storm. Wind chill factor: minus 7

What happened: A few years back, we called this contest -- "The Chicken Soup Game" -- the third greatest bowl game ever. The contest was played in the Cotton Bowl's frigid, howling wind, and Notre Dame got off to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter. In the second and third quarters, Houston scored 34 straight points. Notre Dame team aides were in the locker room warming Joe Montana with chicken soup trying to help him combat the flu and hypothermia. Montana managed to warm up and came back late in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter he ran for one TD, passed for another as time ran out and also passed for two two-point conversions to lead the Irish to an extraordinary comeback victory. Montana recalled his feeling waking up on game morning to gaze upon a crystalline Dallas: "It was beautiful -- beautiful if you were spending the day looking out a window." That's what most ticket holders did: The stands were more than half empty as a result of a record 39,500 no-shows.

Steve Van Buren

9. 1948 NFL Championship, Chicago Cardinals vs. Eagles

Date: Dec. 19, 1948

Weather: Relentless driving snow, gusty winds

What happened: Some thought the NFL had gone too far in not postponing this contest, played in abominable conditions in Philly's Shibe Park. The game started 30 minutes late, in part because the players had to be recruited to help remove the hay and snow-laden tarp. A few minutes later, the field -- and its markings -- were rendered invisible. Commish Bert Bell decreed measurements verboten, relying on the head ref to make the first down and TD calls by keen observation alone. Somehow, the underdog Eagles managed to draw 28,864 out to the old stadium, and those wet, freezing, miserable fans suffered through three quarters of 0-0 play before Steve Van Buren, who gained 98 yards on the afternoon, took a handoff and ran five yards for the game's only touchdown. The Cards never advanced past the Eagles 31, and their longest offensive play gained a paltry 11 yards. The Eagles had much less trouble moving the ball, dominating more than the 7-0 final tally indicated. Philly gained 225 yards on the ground (and seven in the air), putting kicker Cliff Patton in position to miss three field goals. But who cared? The Eagles had won their first NFL championship.

--Jeff Merron