The 1986 Houston-Oklahoma State game is notable for several reasons. For the record, Houston won the game 28-12 in Stillwater, but other storylines have left their mark. The game featured the two all-time winningest coaches in the programs’ respective histories.
One was winding down, while the other was just getting started.
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For UH, the game ended up being Bill Yeoman’s last win in Cougar red. Yeoman suffered through a 1-10 season in 1986, including losing to Tulsa the week after Oklahoma State (OSU lost to Tulsa the week before the UH game).
Starting QB Gerald Landry suffered a hip pointer in the second quarter against the Cowboys, pushing back-up Mark Davis into action with UH up 7-0. Davis was 6/7 for 108 yards, which was more passing yards than UH would average that season. Landry was bothered by the injury for much of the year, and he and Davis each played that season, neither establishing themselves as a clear-cut starter.
For Oklahoma State, freshman Mike Gundy debuted at quarterback. Starter Ronnie Williams was benched at the half in favor of the 5’11” kid who led the Midwest City HS Bombers a year prior.
In the first plays of his career, Gundy handed off twice to start the second half, then completed a pass on a 3rd and 3. On the next play, he fumbled, but Thurmond Thomas recovered it.
Gundy ended 12/22 for 163 yards and a 28-yard TD pass while the RB tandem of Thomas (1985 Consensus All-American) and freshman Barry Sanders (1988 Heisman winner) struggled to get going against the Cougar defense. OSU averaged under 3 ypc in the game.
Gundy and the Cowboys got their revenge in the opener in 1987, shutting out UH 35-0 in Jack Pardee’s debut. Oklahoma State went 10-2 and finished #11 in the AP Poll that season. Both teams finished in the top 20 in 1988. A year after Sanders’ Heisman, Houston’s Andre Ware won his.
The win was #160 for Yeoman, a total that pushed him to the College Football Hall of Fame. Gundy won his 160th game earlier this year against Kansas.
Lagniappe: Both teams lost to Tulsa in 1986, a team led by second-year head coach Don Morton. Morton won the 1983 D2 national title before going to Tulsa a year later. After posting a 13-9 in two years with the Hurricane, he bolted to Wisconsin after the 1986 season, where he won just 3 Big Ten games in three years. He’d lost 16 of 17 when he filmed one of the cringiest commercials in CFB history:
Within a year, he would be dead. Coaching-wise, anyway. He was fired a year after the 1989 season and never coached again.