The January issue of Sport Magazine rates the top 10 college bowl games of the 1980s, and three of them are Holiday Bowls featuring teams from BYU.
The 1980 Holiday Bowl between BYU and SMU, the 1989 Holiday Bowl between BYU and Penn State and the 1984 Holiday Bowl between BYU and Michigan are ranked Nos. 2, 6 and 8 on the magazine's list.No. 1 is the 1984 Orange Bowl, when Miami upset Nebraska 31-30 to win the national championship. Others making the top 10 include the 1983 Sugar Bowl, the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, the 1982 Sugar Bowl, the 1981 Orange Bowl, the 1988 Orange Bowl and the 1987 Sun Bowl.
In the 1980 Holiday Bowl, BYU scored 21 points in the final 3:58 to come from behind and win 46-45. In the 1989 Holiday Bowl, BYU lost 50-39 to Penn State in a wild offensive show. And in the 1984 Holiday Bowl, BYU won 24-17 over Michigan in a game that featured a heroic performance by BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco, who was badly injured in the first half. The Cougars won the 1984 national championship by virtue of that win.
It could be argued that other Holiday Bowls should have been on the top 10 list as well. In terms of exciting games, at least four other games in the '80s featured more dramatics than either the 1989 or the 1984 games.
In 1983, BYU beat Missouri 21-17 on a halfback pass from Eddie Stinnett to quarterback Steve Young with 23 seconds remaining. In 1985, Arkansas beat Arizona State 18-17 on a 37-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining. In 1986, Iowa beat San Diego State 39-38 on a 41-yard field goal with four seconds remaining. And in 1987, Iowa came back to defeat Wyoming 20-19 by scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
In its 12-year history, the Holiday Bowl has had only two games not decided in the final quarter - the 1982 game (Ohio State 47, BYU 17) and the 1988 game (Oklahoma State 62, Wyoming 14).
The only common opponent during the regular season for Texas A&M and Brigham Young was the University of Hawaii.
A&M played the Rainbow Warriors in Honolulu to open the season and came away with a 28-13 win. BYU played the Rainbow Warriors in Honolulu to close the season and lost 59-28.
Texas A&M Coach R.C. Slocum sees little similarity between the Houston Cougars - a team that defeated A&M by a 36-31 score during the regular season - and the BYU Cougars.
"The only comparison is you expect them both to throw a lot of balls," said the coach. "Other than that, their offenses are a lot different."
Slocum on BYU quarterback Ty Detmer: "He has the ability to turn negative plays into positive plays. That's what scares me. This kid isn't easy to get to."
Slocum on his ball-control, run-oriented game plan: "We're not a drop-back, throw-it-50-times kind of team. We like to take the football and keep it a long time once we get it."
BYU cornerback Brian Mitchell has extra incentive for Saturday's game. A native of Waco, Texas, his favorite team growing up was Texas A&M. He wanted to play for the Aggies. But they never recruited him.
Two of Mitchell's high school teammates in Waco will be suiting up for A&M - linebacker Anthony Williams and cornerback Eric Moore.
"Seems like I've got something to prove," said Mitchell. "Half my friends in high school went to A&M."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Sonny Detmer, on the rap that his six-foot son, Ty, isn't very tall for a quarterback: "But he's got high eyes. Heck, you take a guy like John Elway, he's got 14 inches of forehead."