10 moments that made BYU and NFL quarterback Jim McMahon famous — and infamous

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15 2013 5:24 p.m. MDT

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McMahon, an overtly non-religious man, heaved up a prayer and came away with BYU's first-ever bowl win

The moment has gone down in BYU legend, and with good reason.

Cougar fans today look back at BYU's storied bowl history with pride and admiration, but in 1980, all BYU had to look back at was several consecutive losses in the Holiday Bowl against Midwestern teams.

Enter the Pony Express in 1980. At the height of SMU's NCAA rule breaking, the Mustangs of SMU earned a berth to the Holiday Bowl to face BYU. Through more than 56 of the 60 minutes of game time, they held a 20-point lead on BYU.

McMahon led the Cougars back to the win, the final touchdown coming as time expired.

What more could Cougar Nation have asked from this Hall of Famer than BYU's first-ever bowl win?
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Enid, OK

God bless Jim McMahon!

I saw the Miracle Bowl on black and white TV. My dad said it was a lost cause and left but I hung in there and watched them win it all. When Clay Brown caught the winning TD I went outside in the dead of night and screamed as loud and as long as I could. Didn't matter to me one bit that it was probably 11 o'clock at night and my neighbors were probably all sleeping. Who cared? We'd won, baby, and we'd won BIG!

Yes, God bless Jim McMahon!


Mission Viejo, CA

I was watching in New Haven CT in the middle of the night. Lying on my couch, morose as Dickerson and James tore the Cougar defense up. Then came the Dickerson TD. Nail in the coffin. But BYU blocked the punt. Jimmy Mac completed the Hail Mary. Kick was good!

Most unbelievable gave I've ever seen.

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

I didn't realize Brandon Davies had been cut by the basketball team...where in the world did that tidbit come from? Suspension, yes. But cut?

newhall, CA

I went to school with Jim and had three classes with him. I have nothing but the greatest respect for him because he never changed who he was and was the consummate teammate and leader. I still believe he was one of the greatest QBs in BYU history and he should have won the Heisman, and yes, he should be inducted into BYU's Hall of Fame. I just finished watching the Miracle Bowl and I will admit it brought back memories and teary eyes. Those were the days when the Blue could put up points with a potent offense. I'm looking for that day to begin anew. Thanks for all the wonderful memories Jim, from BYU to the NFL, and God bless you in your recovery and health; I hope your newly found treatment will continue to give you relief and peace of mind without those migraine headaches.

Don't Feed the Trolls
Salt Lake City, UT

"McMahon was and is overtly not a member of the Mormon Church, which at the time of his enrollment at BYU was by far the exception,"

Non-Mormon (at the time of their enrollment) BYU QB's, just off the top of my head...
Before Jimmy Mac:
Gary Sheide
Marc Wilson
Robbie Bosco?
Ty Detmer
Steve Sarkisian

Tom Holmoe
Clay Brown

I could go on, but then again, it isn't MY job as a "journalist" to research a story...


I always remember the Coors Light sticker he had on his helmet during his senior year, along with all his "big play" stickers.

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