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BYU football: Cougars' bowl history as rich as it is varied

Published: Friday, Dec. 17 2010 11:13 a.m. MST

BYU played in two games in Japan against Japanese all-star teams at the end of the '77 season in an Oriental Extravaganza called the Silk Bowl, which was an exhibition contest only.

"It was a great experience for the team, a great trip for the kids," Tuckett remembers. "You don't get to go to Tokyo very often."

And what was the quality of Japanese football? "They know the game pretty well, but they were just overmatched," Edwards said. "They were competitive little guys. The night before the game I remember thinking, 'This would really be big if we lose.'"

They didn't, of course.

The Cougars must have been a big hit in Japan. The following year, BYU defeated UNLV, 28-24, in its regular-season finale, in Yokohama.

BEATING BYU, BY GEORGE (1978, 1987)

When George Welsh coached the Naval Academy to victory over BYU in the inaugural Holiday Bowl in 1978, it was a special experience in more ways than one for him. That day, Dec. 22, happened to be his wedding anniversary.

Ironically, nine years later, to the day, on Dec. 22, 1987, Welsh, who was then the coach at the University of Virginia, met BYU in the All-America Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., and won again.

More ironic still is that in 1978, Welsh beat BYU, 23-16. In 1987, Welsh won by the almost identical score, 22-16.

Who knows if Mrs. Welsh enjoyed those two anniversaries.

Years later, though, the Cougars exacted a measure of revenge against Mr. Welsh. In 2000, Edwards' final season at the helm, the Cougars rallied from a 21-point halftime deficit to claim a 38-35 overtime victory over Welsh, who retired at the end of the season.

SHOULDA, COULDA, WOULDA, OOPS (1979, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993)

Six times in bowl games, BYU not only played well enough to win, but also should have won. In 1979, the loss came after the aforementioned missed field goal that cost the Cougars a victory. In 1985, Robbie Bosco threw a pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown — Ohio State's only TD of the game. The Buckeyes picked off two more passes in the end zone that day on their way to a 10-7 win.

In the 1989 Holiday Bowl against Penn State, a number of bizarre plays occurred, like a two-point conversion attempt that was returned 102 yards for a score and a 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown late in the game in a 50-39 Nittany Lions' victory.

"This was the screwiest game I've ever been involved in, and we've had our share," Edwards said afterward. "Don't ask me about any turning points because I wouldn't be able to tell you."

In the 1991 Holiday Bowl, favored Iowa halted BYU's potential game-winning drive to preserve a 13-13 tie. BYU missed an extra point attempt in the second quarter.

In the 1992 Aloha Bowl in Honolulu, Christmas Day in paradise began wonderfully for the Cougars against Kansas. Before you could say Mele Kalikimaka, freshman Hema Heimuli returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.. But Jayhawk defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield spent the afternoon chasing quarterback Tom Young, who was making his first, and only, career start for BYU. (Later, Tom's brother, Steve, and Stubblefield were teammates with the San Francisco 49ers). The Cougars also shot themselves in the foot by missing an extra point and two field goals that day before losing, 23-20.

In 1993, the 6-5 Cougars were coming off their worst season in 20 years. The top-10 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes weren't happy one bit about being relegated to the Holiday Bowl and felt they deserved to be in the Rose Bowl. The Cougars actually outplayed the Buckeyes for much of the game, but BYU squandered opportunities as OSU won, 28-21. Three times in the second half, BYU drove into the Buckeyes' red zone without scoring.

TY'S FOES AND WOES (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991)

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