SMU beats Houston in highest-scoring game in regulation in college football history

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SMU topped Houston 77-63 on Saturday in the highest-scoring regular-season game in college football history. The ridiculous matchup between AAC powers surpassed Pitt’s 76-61 victory over Syracuse in 2016 when the Panthers and Orange combined for 137 points and nearly 1,300 yards of offense — with 47 points coming in the fourth quarter alone. 

The only game that ranks ahead of SMU-Houston on the all-time list is the legendary 2018 battle between LSU and Texas A&M that went to seven overtimes. The 74-72 decision in favor of the Aggies ultimately convinced the NCAA to change the overtime rules to prevent another such game; now, the third overtime and beyond results in a 2-point shootout.

The Mustangs and Cougars combined for 1,352 yards of offense, with 907 yards coming through the air. Mustangs quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw nine touchdowns, tying a single-game record vs. a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent and four players for the second-best single-game mark vs. any competition. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune threw for 527 yards and seven touchdowns in a losing effort as three receivers finished with more than 100 yards. However, Tune also threw three interceptions, including a game-ending pick that allowed SMU to run out the clock. 

Ironically, three of the five quarterbacks with the best single-game passing touchdown numbers, apart from Mordecai, came from Houston. Former Coogs quarterback David Klinger set the record with 11 passing touchdowns in an 84-21 win over Eastern Washington on Nov. 17, 1990. Klinger also threw for nine touchdowns in a 73-3 win over Louisiana Tech in 1991. Case Keenum, the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns, also threw a nine-touchdown game in 2011. The other two players were San Diego State’s Dennis Shaw in 1969 and Washington State’s Anthony Gordon in 2019. 

The battle between SMU and Houston was the last (for now) between the two historic rivals before the Cougars depart for the Big 12. Outside of a 10-year period after the dissolution of the Southwest Conference, these two Texas schools have been conference-mates consistently since 1976. 

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