Shane Buechele threw a 25-yard touchdown to James Proche in the third overtime and No. 24 SMU beat Tulsa 43-37, coming back from a three-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter Saturday night to win in its first game as a ranked team in 33 years.
After Tulsa missed its second field goal in overtime, Proche made a leaping catch in the front corner of the end zone over a defender and got a foot down before going out of bounds. The play was initially ruled incomplete before being overturned on replay review.
SMU (6-0, 2-0 American) this week moved into the AP poll for the first time since October 1986, before NCAA sanctions that included the death penalty. The Mustangs didn't field a team in 1987 and 1988.
Xavier Jones ran for 121 yards and scored two game-tying touchdowns for SMU before he fumbled in the second overtime. But Tulsa couldn't take advantage when Jacob Rainey's 43-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Tulsa (2-3, 0-1) had the ball to start the third overtime, and went to a different kicker after failing to get a first down. But Zack Long was wide left on a 42-yard attempt.
Jones had a 4-yard TD run on a fourth-down play with 1:02 left in regulation. His 3-yard score force the second overtime after Zach Smith's fourth touchdown pass, a 7-yarder to Josh Johnson, opened the overtime scoring.
SMU is 6-0 for the first time since 1982, when it went on to an unbeaten season (11-0-1) with running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James.
The Mustangs were down 30-9 before touchdowns on their last three possessions in regulation. They Mustangs went at least 73 yards and converted fourth downs on each of those possessions.
Buechele, the former Texas quarterback, finished 23-of-40 passing for 280 yards with both of his TDs to Proche, who had 11 catches for 153 yards.
Smith was 23-of-41 for 346 yards, but also threw three interceptions before halftime. The first was returned 64 yards by Ar'mani Johnson for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane will bemoan the mistakes that cost them a chance for the upset on the road, considering the 23-9 halftime lead despite the three interceptions and the missed field goal that would have ended the game in the second overtime. They have lost 17 in a row to Top 25 teams since a 62-35 over No. 24 Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve nine years ago. Tulsa won the regular-season finale at home against SMU last November to keep the Mustangs from getting bowl eligible in coach Sonny Dykes' first season.
SMU: This matched the second largest comeback in school history, the largest being a win at Baylor in 1975 after being down 21 points. ... The Mustangs have scored at least 41 points in their last five games. While they needed two overtime touchdowns to do that against Tulsa, they clearly have plenty of offense with AAC passing leader Buechele, rushing leader Jones and two of the top receivers in Proche and Reggie Roberson Jr.
Tulsa is home next Saturday night to play Navy (2-2, 1-1), which is coming off a home loss to Air Force.
SMU has an open date before hosting Temple (4-1, 1-0) on Oct. 19.