Deseret News archives

How will the Cougars’ matchup with Tulsa in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl measure up in BYU bowl history lore? Time will tell. Here are our top-10 BYU bowl games.

1981 Holiday Bowl — BYU 38, Washington State 36
Deseret News archives

The Cougars jumped out to a 31-7 lead in the third quarter following a Tom Holmoe interception return for a touchdown. They then had to withstand a scoring onslaught by Washington State to preserve the victory. Jim McMahon threw for 342 yards in the game, including a critical 11-yard TD pass to Scott Pettis to put BYU up 38-28 midway through the fourth quarter.

1988 Freedom Bowl — BYU 20, Colorado 17
Ravell Call, Deseret News

Ty Detmer, in relief duty, went 11-for-19 passing for 129 yards, which helped usher in his remarkable career. With the Cougars trailing 17-14 in the fourth quarter, kicker Jason Chaffetz came through with field goals from 35 and 31 yards to help BYU prevail.

1994 Copper Bowl — BYU 31, Oklahoma 6
Gary McKellar

BYU completely dominated play from start to finish, scoring 24 straight points before the Sooners responded with a touchdown of their own in the fourth quarter. John Walsh completed 31 of 45 passes for 454 yards and four touchdowns.

2009 Las Vegas Bowl — BYU 44, Oregon State 20
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

The game was supposed to be a close one, but following an opening touchdown by the Beavers, the Cougars reeled off 37 straight points for the easy victory. In the howling wind, quarterback Max Hall finished off his Cougar career by throwing for three touchdowns despite the adverse conditions.

2007 Las Vegas Bowl — BYU 17, UCLA 16
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

BYU was supposed to win easily over the Bruins, but found themselves at the mercy of a 28-yard Bruin field goal attempt with just seconds remaining that would send them home with a loss. Freshman defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna busted through the Bruin line, however, blocking the attempt and giving BYU their second-ever Las Vegas bowl victory.

2006 Las Vegas Bowl — BYU 38, Oregon 8
Tom Smart, Deseret News

Most would agree that the Cougars had one their best teams ever in 2006 and they proved as much by dismantling Oregon by 30 points. It was BYU's first bowl victory since the 1997 Cotton Bowl and the game was never in doubt, with John Beck throwing for 375 yards and two touchdowns and Curtis Brown adding 122 yards rushing and two TDs of his own.

1983 Holiday Bowl — BYU 21, Missouri 17
Associated Press

BYU scored its game-winning touchdown with 23 seconds left on one of the most memorable plays in BYU history. Quarterback Steve Young handed the ball off to Eddie Stinnett, then received the Stinnett halfback pass for a touchdown.

1997 Cotton Bowl — BYU 19, Kansas State 15
Associated Press

The Cougars trailed for most of this New Year's Day bowl before exploding for 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, which included a Steve Sarkisian touchdown pass to K.O. Kealaluhi with three-and-a-half minutes left in the game that proved to be the difference. Omar Morgan sealed the victory for the Cougars, picking off a pass with less than two minutes left after the Wildcats drove it down to the BYU 17. The victory gave the 1996 Cougars a record 14 wins on the season, their only loss coming early in the season at Washington.

1984 Holiday Bowl — BYU 24, Michigan 17
Associated Press

BYU wrapped up its national championship season with this bowl victory. Quarterback Robbie Bosco turned in a gutty performance, playing with a severe knee injury for the better part of the second half. Bosco hit Kelly Smith with a touchdown pass with 1:23 remaining to give BYU the win — and more importantly its first national championship.

1980 Holiday Bowl — BYU 46, SMU 45
Deseret News archives

It's a game that most BYU fans will never forget and has its place in history as one of the greatest comebacks in college football history. BYU scored 21 points in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the game, which included the famous last-second Hail Mary pass from Jim McMahon to Clay Brown to give the Cougars their improbable victory. It was also BYU's first bowl victory ever.