On February 10th, 1988, an 18-year old strong armed quarterback from San Antonio was standing outside the SMU football office at 7:30 in the morning. Because of NCAA rules, he couldn't have contact with SMU coached until 8 am. He decided to walk around campus for thirty minutes before returning to Coach Forrest Gregg's office. When he returned, he became SMU's first signee since football returned to the Hilltop. That young man was quarterback Mike Romo. Mustang fans were excited about his natural passing ability and knew he could be something special. What fans may not have expected was that Romo was going to be breaking numerous records during his first two seasons at the helm of the Mustang attack. In 1990, Romo broke his own record by completing 40 passes in a single game for one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
On November 10, 1990, the Mustangs traveled down to Houston to take on the Rice Owls in a battle of Southwest Conference rivals. The Mustang fell behind early and looked to Romo to lead a desperate comeback charge. Even though the comeback came up just short, Romo proved why he was one the greatest quarterbacks in SMU history. Most quarterbacks would love to be able to put the kind of numbers Romo did in fourth quarter alone.
The sophomore Romo tied an NCAA record with 35 plays in the fourth quarter. He shares the record with Chris Rowland of Washington, who had 35 plays in the fourth quarter against California in 1973. He also set an NCAA record for the most completions in a quarter when he completed 21 of 31 passes for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns in the final quarter. The previous record was held by Ben Bennett of Duke, who had 20 against Navy in 1982.
By the end of the game, Romo had broken his own SMU record with 40 pass completions on 62 attempts, plus four touchdowns. He also fell one yard short of his school record with 449 passing yards. He shattered a Southwest Conference record by attempting 114 consecutive passes without an interception. The old record was 99 by David Rascoe of TCU in 1988.
Romo ended his career at SMU ranked in the top three of every major passing statistical category in school history. His 40 completions at Rice were only a portion of his career total of 601, ranking him second behind Chuck Hixson. He also has six of the twenty best passing days by a Mustang quarterback. It is noteworthy that every one of those games occurred in either 1989 or 1990. His 40 completions against Rice in 1990 have earned him a place in SMU history and a spot in our countdown of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.