The BYU Cougars have a bye this week, but their Nov. 10 matchup with Idaho will be Bronco Mendenhall's 100th game as BYU head coach. So we decided to take a look back at the five best wins, along with the five worst losses, of the Bronco Era. Disagree with our selections? Add yours in the comments.
Reeling from consecutive losses to Air Force, Florida State and Nevada, the 1-3 Cougars entered Romney Stadium in Logan having won 10 straight games against the Aggies.
That streak ended in short order, as USU quarterback Diondre Borel led the Aggies to a 17-0 first-half lead and never looked back. Cougar QB Jake Heaps threw 55 passes but only completed 27 (unless you count his two interceptions as well).
In the end, the Aggie faithful stormed the field, and Bronco and the Cougars left Logan with a 1-4 record for the first time since 1973.
The 2009 season ended on a high note for the Cougars, as they came into the Las Vegas Bowl with a 10-2 record and a No. 14 national ranking. Despite losses to Florida State and TCU earlier in the year, Max Hall and the Cougars were firing on all cylinders against No. 18 Oregon State, Bronco Mendenhall's alma mater.
Hall threw three touchdown passes in his final game as a Cougar, Harvey Unga added 71 rushing yards and a touchdown, and the BYU defense forced three turnovers.
This was one of the biggest rivalry matchups in recent memory; the Utes came in undefeated with a No. 8 national ranking, while the No. 16 Cougars were no slouches themselves at 10-1. The Mountain West title was at stake, and in Utah's case, so was a trip to the BCS.
The game, unfortunately, didn't live up to its billing, as Utah dominated from the start. Max Hall had perhaps the worst game of his BYU career, throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble, and the Utes' Brian Johnson was nearly flawless.
Utah went on to defeat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and the Cougars were consigned to yet another Las Vegas Bowl appearance.
BYU hasn't had much luck against the Horned Frogs in recent years, but in the early part of TCU's Mountain West Conference membership, the two teams were evenly matched.
In this game, the Cougars avenged a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Frogs the previous year and snapped No. 17 TCU's 13-game winning streak in the process. Quarterback John Beck threw three touchdown passes and Curtis Brown added over 100 yards of total offense.
The win put the Cougars in the MWC driver's seat and also gave TCU its first conference loss since joining the MWC.
From 2008 on, victories over the Horned Frogs were hard to come by for BYU...as in, the Cougars lost four straight games to them before exiting the Mountain West Conference. But this 2008 loss may have hurt the most.
BYU came into the game with a No. 9 national ranking and a 16-game winning streak. Winning this one would have set the Cougars on the road straight to the BCS.
But it was not to be. Quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver Jeremy Kerley made sure of that. Kerley actually became the Frogs' most effective runner on the day, notching 77 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The loss ended BYU's undefeated season and any BCS hopes.
These days, the Oregon Ducks are known for their explosive offense, but in 2006, they laid an egg against a Cougar team hungry for its first bowl win since 1996.
The No. 19 Cougars shut out Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon for three quarters, with Oregon's final score coming well after the game had been decided.
In their final games as Cougars, quarterback John Beck, running back Curtis Brown and tight end Jonny Harline all starred.
"I couldn't think of a more fitting ending," Bronco Mendenhall told reporters after the game.
After upsetting Oklahoma (we'll get to that) and throttling Tulane to start the season, the Cougars came into their home matchup against Florida State with BCS aspirations. Led by Max Hall and Harvey Unga, the 7th-ranked Cougars would leap into the BCS race with a win over the Seminoles.
That...didn't happen. Future NFL quarterback Christian Ponder threw for two touchdowns and ran for 77 yards and another score, as Hall threw three interceptions to a ball-hawking Seminole defense. The Cougars trailed 30-14 at halftime and couldn't recover.
"I think Florida State was more prepared in general than we were tonight, really from beginning to end," Mendenhall said after the loss.
The game later known as The Answered Prayer started out as anything but. BYU came in as a ranked team at 9-2, and the 7-4 Utes had struggled through a competitive conference season. BYU took an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and it seemed that the Cougars would run away with the game.
But the Utes, led by quarterback Brett Ratliff, stormed back with 24 straight points to take the lead into the fourth quarter. The rivals traded blows in the final frame, as Ratliff connected on a touchdown pass to Brent Casteel with 1:!9 to play.
That proved to be just enough time for John Beck, who marched the Cougars down the field and found tight end Jonny Harline in the end zone, cradling the ball on his knees as Cougar fans rejoiced.
It might not have been the most meaningful loss on this list, but it's certainly the most embarrassing. With BYU's shift to independence and Utah beginning its life in the Pac-12, the yearly rivalry game took place much earlier in the season. And Cougar faithful would surely prefer that it had never happened at all.
BYU immediately dug itself a hole as, on the third play from scrimmage, quarterback Jake Heaps fumbled a poor snap into the end zone, where the Utes pounced on it for a touchdown. And things only got worse from there, as the Cougars coughed up seven turnovers and Utah scored 30 unanswered points in the second half.
The lopsided result didn't ruin the Cougars' season, and it may have even helped to clarify Mendenhall's quarterback decision between Heaps and Riley Nelson. But Y. fans will carry the scar for a long time.
The Sooners came into this season-opening matchup with a No. 3 ranking, national title ambitions, and a Heisman-candidate quarterback in Sam Bradford. One of those things was gone by halftime, as BYU linebacker Coleby Clawson drilled Bradford into the turf at Cowboys Stadium, injuring Bradford's shoulder.
Despite trailing 10-7 at that point, the energy and momentum the hit provided caused quarterback Max Hall to exclaim, "We're gonna win!" to Cougar fans as the teams left the field for halftime.
Hall's guarantee proved prophetic, as the Cougar defense stifled Sooners backup Landry Jones in the second half and Hall connected with McKay Jacobson for the game-winning touchdown.
While the Cougars would lose to Florida State two weeks later, shattering their BCS hopes, the win still ranks as the best in Bronco Mendenhall's time as head coach.
Related: See the 5 best wins (and 5 worst losses) of Kyle Whittingham's Utah coaching career