Prior to the start of the 1997 season, the last time the Mustangs had enjoyed a winning season, Reagan was in the White House and the Cosby Show was the No.1 show in America. However, on November 15, 1997, SMU recorded a 42-41 win at Tulsa to secure its first winning season since 1986. With the win, the Mustangs extended their winning streak to five games, the longest winning stretch for SMU since winning the last six games of the 1984 season and the first two of the 1985 campaign. Their victory at Tulsa in 1997 takes its spot as one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
The SMU offense was clicking on all cylinders against the Golden Hurricane as it rolled up 440 yards of total offense, with 385 of them on the ground. They also were able to put 42 points on the board, a season high. In fact, the 42 points were the most for SMU since defeated New Mexico, 52-31, on October 26, 1996, in the Cotton Bowl and the most in a road game since a 42-13 triumph at Navy on November 20, 1993.
Despite the offensive explosion, the Mustangs found themselves in a real dogfight. The game, like the Utah game, came down to a PAT. After rallying with 20 fourth quarter points to pull within one point at 42-41, Tulsa needed to convert a PAT with 18 seconds remaining to tie the game. They failed. It was defensive end Warwick Woodard who prevented the PAT as he flew toward kicker James Anderson and disrupting the Tulsa timing. The rush caused the holder to mishandle the snap and the result was a broken play. A desperation toss to end zone landed far from any potential scoring threat and the Mustangs claimed the win.
Several Mustangs had noteworthy days. Kelsey Adams rushed for 143 yards, Ramon Flanigan for 111, and Jeff Pennington had a career high 72 yards on the ground. Adam's performance placed him among the SMU elite. He earned his fifth consecutive 100-yard game the season. The last SMU player to do this was Eric Dickerson in 1982. His four touchdowns placed him in a tie with Dickerson's 1981 game against Grambling State. Adam's even earned a spot in the November 24th edition of Sport Illustrated.
The win against Tulsa moved SMU into a two-way tie with New Mexico for first place in the WAC Mountain Division. The last time an SMU team found itself in position to win its division was in 1984. The Mustangs finished with a 6-5 record. Of the five losses, four of them were by 8 points or less. The 1997 Mustangs fought hard all season long and earned a winning season making it one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.