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

Published: Friday, Dec. 17 2010 11:00 a.m. MST

In 1990, BYU fans had complained when they heard Texas A&M would be the Cougars' opponent in the Holiday Bowl. The Cougars were ranked No. 13 and boasted a 10-2 record. The unranked Aggies were 8-3.

But Texas A&M blasted BYU, 65-14, It marked the Cougars' worst bowl defeat and, at the time, it was Edwards' worst loss in his career. A&M cruised to a 37-7 lead at the half and proceeded to add 28 second half points.

"Before the game," Tuckett said, "I remember standing on the sidelines and, seeing (Texas A&M's) size, I thought, 'What in the heck are we doing playing against them?"

Four years later, there would be another blowout. In '94, it was BYU's turn to administer a beating with a big 31-6 victory over Oklahoma. The tide turned back on the Cougars in they 1998 Liberty Bowl, where they lost to Tulane, 41-27.

Later, in 2006 and 2009, respectively, BYU beat up on the two Oregon schools in the Las Vegas Bowl by a combined score of 82-28. The Cougars pounded Oregon, 38-8, and Oregon State, 44-20.


The 1994 Copper Bowl in Tucson, Ariz., marked the final game for Cougar quarterback John Walsh, who would, days after a 31-6 walloping of Oklahoma, announce that he would be making himself eligible for the NFL draft.

Walsh said goodbye by completing 31-of-45 passes for 454 yards and four touchdowns against a downtrodden Sooner team. It was, at the time, the most convincing bowl victory in Cougar history.

For Oklahoma, it was the final game for lame-duck coach Gary Gibbs. In attendance that night, sitting in the press box, was his successor, Howard Schnellenburger. Months after witnessing BYU's commanding win, Schnellenburger talked as if it was the nadir of Sooner football history. He called it "the line of demarcation" for the program and claimed OU would go up dramatically from there.

In Schnellenburger's one and only season at the helm, in 1995, the Sooners finished 5-5-1.

But Schnellenburger was prophetic in a sense. In 1999, Oklahoma ended up hiring some guy named Bob Stoops, and the Sooners became, once again, one of the premier programs in the country.

Meanwhile, Walsh wasn't drafted until the seven round of the 1995 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and never played a down in the NFL.


Playing at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas, BYU found itself playing in its first New Year's Day bowl game in front of 71,000 fans, about 40,000 of whom were clad in Kansas State-purple. But probably even more people cheered against the Cougars that day — including the Bowl Alliance, the precursor of the Bowl Championship Series.

The Bowl Alliance snubbed BYU despite its 13 wins, No. 5 ranking, a stifling defense and a powerful offense. The snub cost BYU an $8 million payday at the Fiesta Bowl (instead, the Cougars earned a $2 million payout from the Cotton Bowl).

If it wasn't enough of a slap in the face to be rejected by the Fiesta Bowl, the Kansas State Wildcats showed disrespect for BYU all week long during Cotton Bowl festivities. They wouldn't talk or shake hands with Cougar players. They saved their talking for the field, where they belittled BYU and its conference, the WAC.

The Cougars, meanwhile, let their play speak for them, registering a dramatic 19-15 victory over the Wildcats.

It was a contest that featured a safety by BYU and a 41-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass by K-State on the final play of the half (ironically, BYU had scored on a 41-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass on the final play of the game to defeat SMU in 1980), sending the two teams into the locker room at halftime with the Wildcats ahead by the baseball-like score of 8-5.

Things didn't go much better for the Cougars in the third quarter as K-State grabbed a 15-5 advantage.

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