For many football fans in the state of Texas, the date November 9, 1974 is synonymous with Baylor upsetting Texas and leaving the lights on all night. But Waco was not the only site of a Southwest Conference upset that day. Texas A&M brought a perfect SWC record into the Cotton Bowl to battle the Mustangs. The Mustangs emerged victorious 18-14 in front of 44,463 screaming fans in one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
The night before the game, legendary comedian and performer Bob Hope was in town for the annual Pigskin Review. Hope ended the evening by proclaiming to the SMU faithful that "the Ponies are gonna send the Aggies home in baggies!" Such a declaration was considered to be extremely bold considering A&M was on target to go to the Cotton Bowl. The Aggies were ranked 5th in the Associated Press poll, with only a loss at Kansas keeping them from a perfect season thus far.
However, once the game started, Hope's prediction did not seem so bold after all. Early on, SMU's Oscar Roan grabbed a fumble out of mid-air at the A&M 14 and went into score. Later in the first half, it appeared that A&M was headed for a score when Bubba Bean was open for a pitchout but fumbled it to the ground. SMU star lineman Louis Kelcher was there for the recovery. The Ponies then drove 84-yards to set up a 21-yard field goal to extend their lead. The defense also set up the Ponies next score with an interception, placing SMU on the Aggie 20 yard line. Quarterback Ricky Wesson burst into the end zone on the next play to put the Mustangs ahead 16-0.
A&M fought back to narrow the score to 16-14. An SMU punt pinned the Aggies deep in their own territory, making A&M have to march the length of the field for the win. However, SMU's Steve Morton was able to fight through the Aggie line and record a quarterback sack in the end zone for a safety. The final two points gave SMU an 18-14 upset victory.
Even though A&M was 4-0 in Southwest Conference play coming into the game, Louis Kelcher could have cared less. He had a stellar day. He made 24 tackles, earning him nationwide Defensive Player of the Week honors by both Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press. On one series of downs, he made back-to-back tackles on screen passes on opposite sides of the field, both from his nose guard position.
Kelcher went on to earn All-America honors as well as being named SWC Defensive Player of the Year in 1974. He also set a school record for the most tackles for a loss in a season with 22. After graduating from SMU, he went on to a successful NFL career with the San Diego Chargers from 1975-83, and the San Francisco 49ers in 1984.
Kelcher was the anchor of a Mustang defense that was able to make big plays all day long against the heavily favored Aggies. SMU was able to prove Bob Hope's prediction correct with the upset over their highly ranked conference foe. The 1974 upset win over A&M in the Cotton Bowl takes its place on our countdown of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.