In this era of gaudy Heisman stats, it’s easy to shrug off just how gaudy Andre Ware‘s numbers were during the 1989 season.
Ware’s 49 total touchdowns (running and passing) that year is currently tied with Cam Newton for third on the all-time Heisman list. Except Ware’s totals came in just 11 games compared to Newton’s 13. Indeed, Ware’s 4.45 touchdowns per game in 1989 is the best per-game rate in Heisman history. Extrapolate that rate to the 13 games played by all-time touchdowns leaders Sam Bradford and Marcus Mariota (53 total TDs) and you end up with a 58-touchdown season.
But the Houston Cougars of 1989 were on probation and ineligible for a bowl, limiting Ware’s opportunities. Nonetheless, what Ware did that season was spectacular.
This week in Heisman history (Sept. 2, 1989), the Galveston, Texas, native exploded out of the gates as he directed Jack Pardee’s run ‘n shoot offense to a 69-0 drubbing of UNLV in Houston’s season opener.
Ware, a junior, completed 30 of 48 passes for 390 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a score, bringing his total to six touchdowns on the day, tying the then-Heisman record set by Terry Baker in 1962.
It soon become commonplace for Houston to rack up huge point totals that season. The Cougars surpassed the 60-point barrier four more times — including a 95-point outburst against SMU — and averaged 53.5 points per game. Houston finished 9-2 and ranked 14th in the polls as Ware passed for 4,699 yards and 46 touchdowns. His 423 yards of total offense per game remains the best in Heisman history. Along the way, he set 26 NCAA records.
Ware’s Heisman marked the last of five Heismans won by the now-defunct Southwest Conference.