One characteristic that all great teams share is that they rise to the occasion when faced with adversity. Trailing in the fourth quarter on the road against a conference rival is not an ideal situation for any football team. Add to this situation the fact that a loss would ruin an undefeated season and probably cost the team a shot at a conference title, the pressure is about as high as it could be. This was the situation the Mustangs found themselves in 1982 when they traveled down I-35 to Waco to battle the Baylor Bears. The Mustangs looked to their field general, Lance McIlhenny to lead them back in what was one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
A determined Baylor Bear defense used an eight-man line to hold SMU to just 97 yards rushing, the Mustangs' lowest output in four years. The Bears jumped out to a 13-0 lead at halftime while completely shutting down the vaunted Pony Express. SMU was forced to go to the air and Lance McIlhenny responded by throwing three touchdown passes. McIlhenny and company stormed back to take the lead in the third quarter on two touchdown passes, one that went to flanker Jackie Wilson for 78 yards.
However, the lead was short-lived as the Bears responded in the first minute of the fourth quarter to retake the lead 19-14. As time started to run out on the Mustangs, Lance McIlhenny engineered one of the greatest drives in school history. Using a mixture of draws and short passes, McIlhenny marched the Pony Express 75 yards in 13 plays for the winning touchdown. With just under three minutes to play, McIlhenny hit tight end Ricky Bolden for a three yard touchdown. It was the second fourth quarter come-from-behind effort of the year. The Mustangs improved to 5-0 on the season en route to an undefeated season and a trip to the Cotton Bowl.
The composure McIlhenny showed was a characteristic he used throughout his career at SMU. McIlhenny finished as SMU's and the SWC's all-time winningest quarterback with a combined record of 34-5-1. In 1982, he was named to the All-SWC first team and led the SWC in passing efficiency with a 133.0 rating. McIlhenny's leadership during the fourth quarter drive to beat Baylor in 1982 takes its place as one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.