College football history is replete with mind-boggling scoring explosions. Individual teams have surpassed the 100-point barrier 194 times since 1884, with most of these blowouts coming during the leather helmet era. Georgia Tech’s record 222-0 crushing of Cumberland in 1916 remains the gold standard for such performances.
While Heisman history doesn’t feature any 100-point games, it came awfully close back in 1989. Thirty years ago this week, Houston defeated Southern Methodist, 95-21, as eventual Heisman winner Andre Ware threw for 517 yards and six touchdowns while playing just the game’s first half.
The numbers produced by the Cougars on that day (Oct. 21, 1989) in the Astrodome were outlandish. Ware set NCAA marks for most yards in a quarter (340 in the second), most yards in a half (517) and most touchdown passes in a quarter (five in the second). Ware combined with sophomore David Klinger to throw an NCAA-record-tying 10 touchdown passes and an NCAA-record 771 yards. Overall, Houston piled up an NCAA-record 1,021 yards — a mark that still stands.
“It was just another day,” Ware told the media afterwards. “Just another day at the office.”
It was also the most points ever scored in a game by a team with a Heisman winner. Those ’89 Cougars would go on to average 53.5 points per game, the second-best scoring average of all time behind the 1944 Army squad that featured future Heisman winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis.
(On a side note, Houston’s scoring prowess was the source of some controversy back then. SMU’s football program was just starting up again following a two-year NCAA-imposed ‘death penalty’ and some observers weren’t happy that the Cougars piled on so many points. However, those same Mustang freshmen who suffered at the hands of Houston in 1989 were able to exact some revenge in 1992 when SMU beat the Cougars, 41-16).
Ultimately, it was this kind of production that propelled Ware to the Heisman Trophy. Houston was a team saddled by NCAA probation in 1989, so the Cougars were not allowed to appear on television. That meant the vast majority of Heisman voters didn’t get to see him play. That would normally be the kiss of death for a Heisman contender, but Ware’s gaudy numbers could not be ignored by those who bothered to read the box scores. He finished that season with 4,699 passing yards and 46 touchdowns in just 11 games and narrowly beat out Indiana running back Anthony Thompson in the Heisman vote. He was the fifth, and last, Heisman winner from the now-defunct Southwest Conference and the only winner to come from a team on probation.
Most points in a game by a team featuring that year’s Heisman winner
95, Andre Ware, Houston vs. SMU, 1989
84, Mike Rozier, Nebraska vs. Minnesota, 1983
83, Vic Janowicz, Ohio State vs. Iowa, 1950
77, Jason White, Oklaoma vs. Texas A&M, 2003
77, Johnny Rodgers, Nebraska vs. Army, 1972
75, Frank Sinkwich, Georgia vs. Florida, 1942
73, George Rogers, South Carolina vs. Wichita St., 1980
72, Earl Campbell, Texas vs. Rice, 1977
70, Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M vs. SC State, 2012
70, Lamar Jackson, Louisville vs. Charlotte, 2016
69, Jameis Winston, Florida State vs. Murray St., 2013