Football

Greatest Moments

There has been endless debate about what college football game should be designated the "Game of the Century." A game such as the Texas-Arkansas match up in 1969 comes to mind for many people. But, perhaps, there has never been a game more deserving of that title than the epic 1935 showdown between SMU and TCU. It was a clash of two undefeated titans that drew national attention. The game came down to a 45-yard touchdown catch by SMU's Bobby Wilson. The play has been referred to as the "$85,000 pass" and takes its place as one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.

The stakes for the game could not have been any higher. The Southwest Conference title, a Rose Bowl bid, and probably the national championship would go to the winner. SMU was 10-0, and TCU, with slinging Sammy Baugh at the helm, was 11-0. It was No.1 vs. No. 2. Which team was ranked higher at the time differs depending on which school is talking about it.

The game drew unprecedented national attention as the National Broadcasting System sent it live across the country. This was the first such broadcast of a game ever in the Southwest. Grantland Rice was one of the dozens of sportswriters from all over the country that were sent to Fort Worth to cover the game. Both schools held pep rallies the week of the game with cheers of "On to the Rose Bowl" echoing across campus. On game day, nearly 37,000 fans made their way to TCU. The stadium only held 25,000 but that did not stop all 37,000 from making their way into the game one way or another. SMU's Bob Finley recalled, "Fans were all over everything, the hillside and the grass. They crawled over fences, pushed gatekeepers out of the way."

Prior to the game, SMU's coach Matty Bell had told Dallas News sports editor George White, "Now don't change your selection, but we're going to win this game." However, SMU was going to have to do it shorthanded as All-SWC back Harry Shuford was sidelined with an injury. Finley was given the play calling duties and led the Mustangs to a 14-0 lead. Bobby Wilson scored both times, once receiving and the other running.

But TCU was a great team, and they fought their way back to tie the score at 14 going into the fourth quarter. With a little more than eight minutes left in the game, Finley and company made arguably the most important play in school history. Matty Bell had sent in Jack Rabbit Smith to take over play calling duties for this series, but left Finley at quarterback. There was no sending in plays from the sidelines in those days. So what happened next came as a shock to Matty Bell as well.

On fourth and four at the TCU 39, Smith called for a fake punt, even though on the sideline Bell was sure they would try to kick it out of bounds inside the TCU 10. Finley, the team's normal punter, broke the huddle and headed to line up in formation when Wilson grabbed him and said, "Throw it as far as you can. I'll be there."

Finley recalls, "Wilson was out wide. I made as if to kick the ball, and the line slowed down. Then I backed up and threw it, and I was buried. I heard the people scream, and when I got up, I saw Wilson in the end zone, jumping up and down."

Finley's pass had sailed more than 45 yards in the air and came down to Wilson inside the five, where he caught it between a couple of TCU defenders, and dove into the end zone for the touchdown. SMU had taken the lead, 20-14. Baugh tried valiantly to bring the Horned Frogs back, but was denied by the Mustang defense.

SMU won the game, the conference, and the national championship. The win sent them to the Rose Bowl which in turn meant SMU would receive $85,000 in revenue. It was used to pay off the Ownby Stadium mortgage. The pass from Finley to Wilson thus became known as the $85,000 pass and one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.

THE COUNTDOWN
No. 90 :: First School Win (1915)
No. 89 :: Rutledge sets two school records (2003)
No. 88 :: Phillips 100 yard INT (1984)
No. 87 :: McCown completes 19 straight (1999)
No. 86 :: Brownlee kicks 57 yd. field goal (1985)
No. 85 :: Bennett records first career win (2002)
No. 84 :: SMU closes out the Cotton Bowl (1999)
No. 83 :: Ownby Stadium opens (1926)
No. 82 :: James sets SWC record (1982)
No. 81 :: Stewart named All-American (1993)
No. 80 :: Briggs sets new Mustang mark (2002)
No. 79 :: SMU defeats Arkansas 31-9 (1997)
No. 78 :: The 1980 Holiday Bowl (1980)
No. 77 :: Hopkins records 4 INTs (1981)
No. 76 :: Pony Express heads to Japan (1983)
No. 75 :: SMU plays in first ever bowl game (1924)
No. 74 :: Hayden Fry named head coach (1962)
No. 73 :: McIlhenny leads SMU over Baylor (1982)
No. 72 :: Flanigan sets total offense record (1997)
No. 71 :: Bell inducted into CFHOF (1955)
No. 70 :: Dickerson runs wild against A&M (1980)
No. 69 :: Charles breaks freshman record (2001)
No. 68 :: Johnson sets sack record (1999)
No. 67 :: Dupard leads pouding of Texas (1985)
No. 66 :: Sanders named first All-America (1928)
No. 65 :: Rossley breaks reception record (1994)
No. 64 :: First win over Texas (1924)
No. 63 :: Gregg returns to SMU (1988)
No. 62 :: Mann leads SMU over TCU (1926)
No. 61 :: Berry defines excellence (1954)
No. 60 :: Birth of the Mustang Name (1917)
No. 59 :: Ford scores first TD in Ford (2000)
No. 58 :: Wolf sets SWC record (1992)
No. 57 :: Meredith sets SWC record (1957)
No. 56 :: Choate Anchors SMU Defense (1978)
No. 55 :: SMU downs Texas (1965)
No. 54 :: Tolbert leads win over BU (1978)
No. 53 :: SMU downs Texas in Austin (1982)
No. 52 :: Partee kicks win over Baylor (1966)
No. 51 :: Hopkins recovers Pitt fumble (1983)
No. 50 :: Dickerson scores 19 TDs (1981)
No. 49 :: Romo breaks completion record (1990)
No. 48 :: LeVias breaks reception record (1968)
No. 47 :: SMU records 400th win (1997)
No. 46 :: SMU clinches winning season (1997)
No. 45 :: Walker on Life Magazine (1948)
No. 44 :: Rote No. 1 NFL Draft Pick (1951)
No. 43 :: SMU blanks TCU (1966)
No. 42 :: SMU downs UNT on Homecoming (1989)
No. 41 :: SMU RUNS over Razorbacks (1980)
No. 40 :: Richardson sets rushing record (1968)
No. 39 :: Wolf breaks NCAA record (1989)
No. 38 :: SMU downs Arkansas (1984)
No. 37 :: The Decision (1945)
No. 36 :: Doak Walker Day at SMU (1998)
No. 35 :: SMU Upsets A&M (1974)
No. 34 :: SMU Ties Ohio State (1978)
No. 33 :: SMU ties Penn State (1948)
No. 32 :: The Army game (1928)
No. 31 :: The TCU Game (1947)
No. 30 :: SMU comeback against Baylor (1975)
No. 29 :: Hixson leads nation in passing (1968)
No. 28 :: Back to the Cotton Bowl (1949)
No. 27 :: Smith picks off Marino (1983)
No. 26 :: The Aloha Bowl (1984)
No. 25 :: Mustang Mania (1978)
No. 24 :: First SWC Title (1923)
No. 23 :: LeVias Baffles Texas A&M (1966)
No. 22 :: Debut Of The Pony Express (1980)
No. 21 :: Undefeated SMU Beats Texas (1947)
No. 20 :: The Ohio State game (1950)
No. 19 :: Dickerson breaks SWC record (1982)
No. 18 :: Revenge against Houston (1992)
No. 17 :: Tie versus Texas A&M (1994)
No. 16 :: Win over Notre Dame (1951)
No. 15 :: Walker career accolades (1949)
No. 14 :: SMU ranked No. 2 (1982)
No. 13 :: The House That Doak Built
No. 12 :: Bluebonnet Bowl in 1968
No. 11 :: Opening of Ford Stadium (2000)
No. 10 :: The Navy Game (1963)
No. 9 :: Carter's block against Arkansas (1982)
No. 8 :: Miracle on Mockingbird (1989)
No. 7 :: The 1949 Notre Dame Game
No. 6 :: National Champions (1935)
No. 5 :: Signing of Jerry LeVias (1965)
No. 4 :: McIlhenny Cotton Bowl TD (1983)
No. 3 :: The Miracle Man (1982)
No. 2 :: The $85,000 Pass (1935)
No. 1 :: Doak Wins the Heisman (1948)
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