BYU football: Cougars' bowl history as rich as it is varied
But BYU mounted a patented comeback, punctuated by quarterback Steve Sarkisian's 28-yard touchdown pass to K.O. Kealaluhi with about four minutes remaining. It was preserved by a game-saving interception by cornerback Omarr Morgan. On first-and-10 from the BYU 12-yard line, Morgan anticipated a slant pass and picked it off with 55 seconds remaining.
Not only did the triumph secure BYU's top-5 finish in the final rankings, but it also gave the Cougars an NCAA-record 14th win that season.
GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME FROSTBITE (1998, 2001)
When the weather's nice in Memphis, the Liberty Bowl isn't a bad place to play. But when the weather's bad, you'd better bundle up. That humidity, as they say, will go right through you.
The Cougars went to the Liberty Bowl twice in four years, but you couldn't blame the cold weather for BYU's poor showing in both games.
In their first trip to Memphis, the Cougars were waxed 41-27 by No. 10 Tulane, a team with an undefeated record and seeking some respect. In the hometown of Elvin Presley ("The King"), the Green Wave rolled by the Cougars thanks in large part to the performance of quarterback Shaun King. If not for a 21-point outburst in the fourth quarter by BYU, the loss would have been much, much worse.
Three years later, the Cougars returned to Liberty Bowl, but they didn't want to be there. After starting the year 12-0 under first-year coach Gary Crowton, BYU fell at Hawaii, 72-45, in the regular-season finale. The Cougars had been upset that they were snubbed from Bowl Championship series consideration before playing the Warriors. So BYU settled for the Liberty Bowl. The Cougars had begun the season putting up 70 points in the season-opener against Tulane. They led the nation in scoring that year. But with running back Luke Staley out with a foot injury, BYU's offense could manage only 10 points against Louisville in the Liberty Bowl. The Cardinals dominated the Cougars, 28-10. BYU's lone touchdown came on a 10-yard run by 6-foot-7, 305-pound Dustin Rykert on a tackle-eligible trick play.
By the time that game ended, the ink in pens of sportswriters standing on the sideline had frozen.
THE "Y"-2K BOWL (1999)
Talk about strange places to hold a bowl game. How about Detroit? In December? What, was Siberia booked? At least the Motor City Bowl was played inside the confines of the Superdome.
Despite the bone-chilling temperatures outside, BYU experienced a meltdown of gigantic proportions against undefeated Marshall.
Like Tulane a year earlier in the Liberty Bowl, Marshall had something to prove against BYU. How ironic that in 1984, the Cougars were the upstart team looking for respect in a bowl against a traditional national power. In back-to-back bowl years, BYU faced a version of its former self.
Marshall was nationally ranked and feeling snubbed by the college football world. In both cases, Tulane and Marshall pulled a BYU, beating the team with the bigger name and reputation. The Cougars, who had started the season 8-1, stumbled badly toward the end, culminating with a disastrous effort in the Motor City Bowl.
BYU mustered a field goal, early in the first quarter, and was shut out from there.
It turned out to be the final game for longtime offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who ended up leaving BYU for North Carolina State weeks later. As it turned out, it was LaVell Edwards' final bowl game (he retired after the 2000 season).
How bad was the Motor City Bowl? Well, at the time (just days before Jan. 1, 2000), there were plenty of concerns about Y2K, talk about how computers could malfunction and send society into total chaos. Well, chaotic described BYU that day. It was a "Y"-2K disaster. The Cougar offense experienced the equivalent of a power outage, its motor stopped running, the game plan was short-circuited, its supply of composure ran out and senior quarterback Kevin Feterik was overthrown. And Marshall law was in full effect. By the time the clock struck 0:00, the Thundering Herd, led by NFL-bound quarterback Chad Pennington, had trampled BYU, 21-3.
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