In 1978, Mustang Mania ran wild. The country was put on notice that SMU football was back. Quarterback Mike Ford led one of the most potent offensive attacks in the nation. It was a three game road trip at the beginning of the 1978 season that proved these Mustangs were for real. First they knocked off Florida in Gainesville. Then they went on to narrowly lose at #4 Penn State, making the Nittany Lions come from behind to win. And they ended the road trip in Columbus, Ohio, ready to play the Ohio State Buckeyes in front of 87,712 fans, the largest crowd to ever see an SMU game. The Mustangs tied the heavily favored Buckeyes that day in one of the 90 greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
With 24 freshmen on its 60-man traveling squad, SMU battled the Buckeyes to a 35-35 tie. The Ponies missed a victory by about two feet when freshman kicker Eddie Garcia's 48-yard field goal sailed wide with two seconds left in the game.
Mike Ford passed for 341 yards, connecting on 36 of 57 passes, throwing for one touchdown and scoring two more with his legs. SMU never buckled, even when Ohio State took leads of 7-0, 14-13, and 35-21. Ford showed the poise of a proven leader by engineering comebacks.
Behind 35-21 in the fourth quarter, Ford drove his team 66 yards and 91 yards for scores taking the ball into the end zone himself each time from the one. And when the Ponies missed the extra point after their fourth touchdown, Ford made up for that by scoring a two-point conversion which tied it at 35-35 with 3:41 to go.
SMU got the ball back in the last minute, and Ford zipped them 34 yards up field in just 56 seconds to position the ball for Garcia's field goal try. When it barely missed, Woody Hayes left the field muttering, "At the end we were lucky to get out with a tie. Ford could throw in a hurry. There was not much chance to a good rush on him."
The entire country had seen what the Mustangs had done. The Ohio State performance earned Ford AP national Back of the Week and UPI Backfield of the Week awards for the second time that season. Coach Ron Meyer was honored as UPI national Coach of the Week. Ford was also named Sports Illustrated Player of the Week.
Mustang Mania was indeed alive and well. Ford finished the season ranked first in the nation in total yardage and second in passing. Ford proved that he was one of the premier quarterbacks in all of college football. His efforts at Ohio State in 1978 help make that game one of the 90 greatest Moments in SMU Football History.