BYU football: Cougar bowl games, then and now

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 27 2011 7:00 a.m. MST

But in the 1981 Holiday Bowl, the Cougars also made an incredible comeback. But it wasn't the BYU Cougars — it was the Washington State Cougars. BYU nearly pulled an SMU, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. After BYU defensive back Tom Holmoe — who's now the school's athletic director — picked off a WSU pass early in the third quarter, BYU took a 31-7 lead. But in fine Holiday Bowl tradition, BYU surrendered a comfortable lead as WSU came roaring back, scoring 21 third-quarter points. BYU, though, held on to win, 38-36.

In 1983, it was Steve Young catching the game-winning touchdown pass from Eddie Stinnett in the final two minutes as the Cougars triumphed, 21-17.

Oh yeah, and BYU captured the national title by defeating Michigan in 1984 as a gimpy Bosco threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Kelly Smith to cap the biggest win in Cougar history.

After the game, a reporter asked Wolverine defensive back Ivan Hicks if BYU was the best team in the land. "Yes, and I'll tell you why," Hicks replied.. "We played our hearts out there and they still won."

Yes, the early 1980s were very good to the Republican Party, Cabbage Patch Kids, and BYU football.

THE BLOWOUT BOWLS (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2009, 2010)

Call it coincidence. Call it fate. Call it yet one more inane statistic that's been unearthed. Whatever it is, every four years, from 1982 through 1998, BYU was involved in a blowout. Mostly, the Cougars found themselves on the wrong side.

In 1982, Ohio State, which had beaten Rose Bowl-bound Michigan, pasted the Cougars, 47-17, in the Holiday Bowl. In 1986, UCLA pummeled BYU in the Freedom Bowl, 31-10. Both games were second half blowouts. The Cougars trailed the Buckeyes 17-10 at halftime. Against the Bruins, BYU was down only 7-3 at intermission.

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, marking 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. In 2010, BYU clobbered UTEP, 52-24, in the New Mexico Bowl.


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 Schnellenberger. Months after witnessing BYU's commanding win, Schnellenberger 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 Schnellenberger's one and only season at the helm, in 1995, the Sooners finished 5-5-1.

But Schnellenberger 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.


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