Inspired by yet another shot at a Heisman Trophy winner, Texas A&M's football team, that noted bounty hunter of people dragging little bronze statues behind them, made the Brigham Young Cougars wish two things here Saturday night in Holiday Bowl 13: that they wouldn't award trophies until after the season is really over, and that they hadn't gotten out of bed.
Go ahead and add another notch on the barrel of A&M's Heisman hunting shotgun. They got another one all right. Ty Detmer had 24 straight 300-yard passing games coming into the contest. He never got close to No. 25. By halftime, this one was all over but the drawling.Every time Detmer looked up, there was an Aggie. They blitzed him like he had a bulls-eye on the side of his helmet. Or a Heisman Trophy. They manhandled and mutilated him on the way to a 65-14 win.
Just why A&M, an otherwise rather nondescript team the past five years, has specialized in mowing down America's Most Outstanding Football Player - and the team he plays for - nobody knows for sure. But there's no questioning their record.
- In the 1986 Cotton Bowl the Aggies defeated Auburn and Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson 36-16.
- In the 1987 Cotton Bowl the Aggies defeated Notre Dame and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown 35-10.
- And in a 1989 regular season game against the University of Houston the Aggies beat Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware 17-13.
There is one blemish. In 1988, the Aggies played Oklahoma State and Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders in a regular season game and lost, 52-15.
Nobody said they were invincible, although BYU may be thinking otherwise this morning. The Aggies treated Detmer like road kill. The quarterback who threw for an NCAA record 5,188 yards during the regular season ended this game on the bench, with a separated left shoulder, a separated right shoulder, and a headache the size of, well, Texas.
He was helped off the field twice, once for each shoulder, and after the second time the Cougars did something they'd never done before - they inserted backup quarterback Joe Evans for permanent duty even though they didn't have a five-touchdown lead.
After the first injury - midway through the second quarter, when the contest was still a contest - Detmer made a heroic re-entry. He had hustled off the field with trainer George Curtis and was examined in the same Jack Murphy Stadium training room where BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco had his knee examined midway through the second quarter of the 1984 Holiday Bowl against Michigan. The national championship was at stake in that game, and Bosco, despite a knee that looked and felt like hamburger, came back to play and lead the Cougars to a legendary-in-BYU-circles 24-17 win.
Detmer emerged from the stadium tunnel soon after BYU had regained possession of the ball after a Texas A&M touchdown. Evans had been in for one play. Detmer ran to the sideline, yelled "I'm going in there" to the coaches, and went into the game.
It might have been another dramatic deliverance.
But it wasn't. Not this time. Detmer's first pass was right on the numbers - the numbers of Texas A&M free safety Larry Horton, who was so stunned he dropped the ball.
From there it got worse.
For Detmer, the Heisman Jinx struck early.
It was a bad pairing. The Heisman Busters versus the Heisman Winner.Clearly, A&M was inspired. A team that ended the season unranked in the AP poll and shut out of the Southwest Conference title and the Cotton Bowl with losses to the hated Texas Longhorns and the only slightly less-hated Houston Cougars, had nothing to lose and plenty to gain.
At the beginning, Detmer looked like the Detmer who shredded regular season defenses for an average of 432 passing yards a game. On BYU's first possession he answered a Texas A&M opening touchdown with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to tight end Chris Smith.
But it all got kind of foggy after that. For BYU and for Detmer, the aftermath of winning the Heisman turned out to be like opening King Tut's Tomb. First a 59-28 loss to Hawaii and now this. If Detmer comes back and wins the trophy again next year, he may mail it back.