On October 21, 1989, a significant achievement was garnered in college football for the first time ever. It was on this day that the Houston Cougars played against the Mustangs of SMU in a Southwest Athletic Conference matchup. SMU had resumed play as a program in 1989 after being handed the "death penalty" in 1987 and volunteering to not play in 1988. Houston had been placed on probation in 1988, and that would last five years.
Jack Pardee had brought in the run-and-shoot offense to Houston, and it helped them set all kinds of offensive records. It helped that Pardee had Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware at quarterback to lead them on the field.
Forrest Gregg had mostly freshman playing on the field for SMU as they were back on the field playing. Because of the loss of scholarships and transfers going elsewhere after the death penalty, Gregg fielded a team of mostly undersized and underweight players.
The Cougars wasted no time in scoring in this game as Ware completely dismantled the Mustangs defense. He threw a touchdown pass of 62 yards to Paul Smith in the first quarter, but it was in the second quarter that he dominated. He ended up with 177 passing yards in the opening quarter.
Ware threw for 340 yards and five touchdown passes in the second quarter which are both records for a single quarter of play. He threw a 7-yarder to Patrick Cooper, a 40-yard and 87-yard to Brian Williams, and 3-yard and 28-yard touchdowns to Manny Hazard. Houston led 59-14 at halftime, and Ware threw for 517 yards and six touchdowns in that half which are records. The previous record for 372 passing yards in a half were set by Jim McMahon of BYU in 1980. UTEP's Brooks Dawson had the record of 304 passing yards in a quarter which was set in 1968.
Houston was on pace to score over 100 points in the game, and they were the last team to do so in 1968 against Tulsa when they won 100-6.
Ware sat out the second half, and backup David Klingler took over. With the game out of reach, Klingler was still throwing deep as he had four touchdown passes in the second half. Houston won the game 95-21. This angered many SMU players and fans, and in particular Forrest Gregg.
Houston kept piling on the yards, and easily passed Nebraska's D-1A record of 883 total yards in a single game against New Mexico State in 1983. Houston became the first major college team in NCAA history to have over 1,000 total offensive yards in a single game after finishing with 1,021 yards.
Bitterness existed between the two schools for sometime after many felt that Houston needlessly ran up the score on SMU. This is evidenced by the fact that Klingler threw the ball deep on many occasions in the second half when Houston already had a big lead.
Houston finished 9-2 on the season and 14th in the AP Poll as well as second behind Arkansas in the SWC standings. Pardee left Houston after the 1989 season. Houston could not play in a bowl game that year because of probation. They are now coached by Kevin Sumlin, who is in his first year.
SMU's only two wins of the 1989 season came against D-1AA opponents at the time(Connecticut and North Texas). They've only had one winning season since returning to football which came in 1997. The program has never recovered from their penalty that costed them playing in the 1987 and 1988 seasons. Veteran coach June Jones is now in charge of turning the Mustangs around on the football field.
The sanctions brought to SMU and Houston as well as four other conference schools in the 1980s helped contribute to the demise of the Southwest Athletic Conference shutting down after the 1995 season. In those days, television rights were lost to schools on probation which meant the SWC suffered serious financial issues later. SMU and Houston are currently playing in Conference USA.
However, the scandals did little to stop Houston from setting many offensive records at that time as well as Ware becoming the only Heisman Trophy winner in the school's history. This day still angers many SMU fans, and Houston still remembers the record-breaking performance even without national exposure on that Saturday afternoon in October of 1989.
Houston Cougars logo courtesy of faniq.com.
Andre Ware photo courtesy of daveyobrien.com
Thanks for viewing, and I hope you enjoyed today's FSD History Flashback!
This was part 2 of today's FSD History Flashback. Check the previous entry: Phillies win their first World Series on October 21, 1980