Throwback Thursday: The Miracle on Mockingbird

With SMU taking on UConn on Saturday in Dallas, it seems a good time to jump into the youtube time machine for a historic matchup between the Ponies and the Huskies from 1989. 

To the Bullets!

- SMU was in their first season post-death penalty and coached by legend Forest Gregg. 

Forest Gregg

Forest Gregg

- Gregg graduated from SMU before embarking on a Hall of Fame NFL career. He returned to his Alma Mater in 1988 to take over the Mustang program left in shambles by a pay-for-play scandal and the death penalty. 

- Gregg left the head coaching job of the Green Bay Packers to take the job on the Hilltop. 

- In the August of 1988, the Mustangs held practice with 15 recruits, 35 to 45 walk-ons, and four holdovers from the 1986 team. That squad practiced but didn't play a game that fall. 

- Technically the Mustangs could have fielded a team in 1988 but chose to take a voluntary hiatus to rebuild the program. 

- SMU moved its home field from Texas Stadium in Irving back on campus to quant Ownby Stadium with a capacity of just over 23,000. 

- The Mustangs opened their first post-death penalty season two weeks prior against SWC foe Rice. 

- SMU's roster featured four seniors, six juniors, and the rest freshmen. 41 of the Mustangs were on scholarships; another 70 were walk-ons. 

- SMU lost the opener 35-6 to Rice, snapping an eighteen game Owl losing streak in the process. 

- Two weeks later UConn came to town. The Huskies were, in most experts estimation, the lone winnable game on the Mustang slate. Gregg of course though differently, claiming the safer bet was on the team with experience over a bunch of freshmen. The game featured some firsts for UConn, the Huskies first trip across the Mississippi to play football; it was their longest road trip in school history and the first night game in the program's history. 

- For most of the game it seemed Gregg was correct, UConn opened up a 30-14 lead over the Mustangs led by quarterback Matt DeGennaro who finished the night with 339 yards and a touchdown. 

- UConn outgained the Mustangs 313 to 146 in the first half and led 23-7 at one point. 

- But with seven minutes left play, the Mustangs started back. First quarterback Mike Romo hit Mitch Glieber, one of the few holdouts from the 1986 team, for a 43-yard touchdown pass. SMU converted a two-point conversion and trailed 30 to 22. 

- SMU recovered a surprise onside kick and the subsequent drive ended in a 23-yard field goal, pulling the Mustangs within five at 30 to 25. 

- After a three and out, the Mustangs took over 55 yards from their first win since the 1986 season. 

Mike Romo

Mike Romo

- Romo and the Mustangs navigated those 55 yards in the remaining 2:25. On their way, they converted a fourth and one and eventually Romo found Mike Bowen standing by himself just inside the goal line for a four-yard score and bedlam ensued. 

- Mustang fans stormed the field, tried to take down the goal posts, and Forest Gregg called the win the greatest he'd ever been associated with. 

- Romo finished the day 34 of 64 for 358 yards and two touchdowns. 

- UConn went on to win eight games in 1989. The Mustangs beat North Texas a few weeks later for their second and last win of the 1989 campaign. 

- The UConn game became known as the Miracle on Mockingbird. Seems to suit it just fine. 

Here's the only footage we could find of that magical September night. 

Posted on September 28, 2017 and filed under SMU, Southwest Round-Up.