BYU football's worst upset — 1985 loss to UTEP

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  • Utah'95 FPO, AE
    Dec. 13, 2010 11:51 p.m.

    So we are to believe that UTEP won because:

    -They tapped BYU's phone lines from the booth to the coaches on the sideline.

    -The Cougars were playing with Montezuma's revenge from their trip South of the Border the night before the game.

    Certainly it must be something other than stubbornly insisting on throwing rather than rushing the ball against a team that was dropping NINE into coverage!

    I have great respect for LaVell Edwards, but if that truly is how the Miners were playing defense that day, BYU deserved to lose.

  • SportsFan Orem, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 6:53 p.m.

    Pebble of the Marne

    Sorry, but you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

    The majority of National Media (that is the AP Poll voters, that's who they are in case you didn't understand that) voted BYU #1 in 1984.

    In 2004, the AP voted Utah #4


    In 2008, the AP voted Utah #2

    Despite what a few outliers might have thought, the majority of national media felt that BYU deserved the National Championship in 1984, but didn't feel that Utah deserved National Championship in either 2004 or 2008.

    Your personal opinion, or the personal opinions of a few critics and haters, is meaningless.

    NCAA Official Website
    NCAA History
    Football Bowl Subdivision
    Bowl Championship Series
    Year School Selecting organization
    2003 Louisiana State BCS
    2004 Southern California BCS
    2008 Florida BCS

    Consensus National Champions
    Year School Selecting organization
    1983 Miami (Fla.) AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI
    1984 Brigham Young AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI
    1985 Oklahoma AP, FWAA, NFF, USA/CNN, UPI
    2003 Southern California AP, FWAA

    If Utah had actually deserved to win the championship in 2004 or 2008, they would have won it; at least in the AP poll.

  • Rock Of The Marne Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 13, 2010 4:03 p.m.

    TrollPolice , Wrong O oh delusional BYU fan. While many thought BYU shouldn't have been NC given the beat a 6-5 team in a third rate bowl (AKA Holiday Bowl) and had beaten no teams in the final AP top 25, many people in the national media fans alike thought Utah should have been NC as they were the only undefeated team in 2008 and had beaten 4 team in the final top 25 (2 in the top ten) and won a big time bowl (AKA Sugar Bowl) convincingly over a SEC team that had been #1 most of the season. Any football fan outside of Happy Valley Utah would say Utah 08 did far more to deserve a NC than very lucky 84 BYU. Sometimes though it is better to be lucky than really good and 1984 proves that.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 2:00 p.m.

    All you Ute Fans, not to worry. You will be playing in the Las Vegas Bowl for the forseeable future, if you succeed in the Pac10 that is. Isn't that where the Pac10 sends the, like, 4th place team?

  • TrollPolice Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 11:10 a.m.

    It's interesting to see the chest beating of Utah trolls who probably weren't even born when BYU lost to UTEP in 1985.

    Hit the wayback machine!

    From 1972 to 1987, BYU was 15-1 versus Utah. The only Utah win during that time period was a 22-23 upset in 1978. BYU paid Utah back for that little indisgression the following year, 27-0, and then took it a step further in 1980, laying down the largest beatdown in the history of the rivaly, 56-6.

    A week after losing to UTEP, BYU beat Wyoming 59-0, and followed that up with a 44-0 pasting of Utah State.

    Interestingly, the exact same scores of the games that followed the famous Jake Locker unsportsmanlike debacle in 2008.

    A month after the UTEP game, undefeated and #4 ranked Air Force came to Provo and lost to BYU 28-21; AFA finished 12-1, #8/#5 in 1985, probably the greatest team in Air Force Academy history.

  • FAYM Fruit Heights, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 10:14 a.m.

    Gotta be right up there with Utah beating Bama in the Sugar Bowl.

    Anything can happen anytime.

    It's why ya just gotta love college sports.

    More reason for a playoff.

  • eagle Provo, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 8:42 a.m.

    I do vividly remember the super prevent defense employed by UTEP as they put nine back to defend the pass and rushed two the whole night. BYU could have chose to run the ball all night at the undersized UTEP defenders but chose to keep on passing against this defense without two of its top starting receivers. It was frustrating. And indeed three interceptions in each loss were key in the outcome of those games lost by BYU. Two of them (one against UTEP and the other against Ohio State) came inside the 10 yard-line as BYU was heading in for a score.

    BYU still finished inside the Top 20 that year and even after the UTEP loss, so I think the loss(es) and their impact on things was greatly exaggerated. BYU when it beat Miami that year got to as high as #4 in the polls and finished very high in Sarkisian's senior year. The fact that BYU could lose to very lowly UTEP and only drop 10 spots showed just how much BYU and Lavell were respected at that time. Utah lost to Notre Dame and dropped 10 spots.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Dec. 13, 2010 8:39 a.m.

    The UTEP coach was trying to save his job. Former UTEP players have said that the phones from the press box to the sidelines had been tapped so that UTEP knew everything that was being said and knew each play before it was run. The Cougars should have won anyway, but they were over confident.

  • TrollPolice Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 8:25 a.m.

    Howard S.

    Utah fans are simply jealous that the Utes have never even come close to sniffing a national championship in football.

    BYU was THE most deserving team to be selected national champions in 1984, as evidenced by the fact that EVERY major college football poll of the day voted BYU #1 -- the very definition of a CONCENSUS NATIONAL CHAMPION!

    The fact that a few haters and "traditionalists" dispute it, is meaningless.

    Try to make a case for any other team winning the championship in 1984, and I'll be happy to shoot holes in your argument.

  • BP Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 7:50 a.m.

    You think it was bad for you all...we lived in El Paso that year! My family never heard the end of it.

    The prevailing rumor I remember was that the BYU team had gone to Juarez the night before the game, and that half the team was sick with Montezuma's revenge...but I'm thinking the nine man zone is the real reason BYU lost.

  • nottyou Riverton, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 7:43 a.m.

    I think BYU's worst loss was when we lost to Utah in 1993. Other than the previous year, the Utes hadn't been to a bowl game in 28 years (what would have been a perfect BCS bowl record during that time period) and that loss started a modern day rivalry. Up to that point, for three decades, you never saw Red in Utah or Salt Lake county.

  • Utah'95 FPO, AE
    Dec. 13, 2010 12:30 a.m.

    Interesting article. I particularly like the reference to BYU suggesting that UTEP must have tapped their phone lines. Surely no one can beat the Cougars without cheating!

    Fast forward to the year 2010. Now we hear the complaint that "the MWC wants to stick it to BYU for leaving the conference" every time a bad call goes against the Cougars.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • fresnogirl Fresno, CA
    Dec. 12, 2010 10:54 p.m.

    Talk about reaching waaay back. I was in Jr. High when this happened. Why are so many Ute fans acting like it has any bearing on today or on them? Weird.

  • Howard S. Taylorsville, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 10:01 p.m.

    MUSSing with U | 9:14 p.m. Dec. 12, 2010
    Baltimore, MD

    Mr. MUSSing says: "The BCS was created for one reason, and one reason only, to keep all of the money in the good ol' boys club."

    And trust me Mr. Mussing, it feels great to be in the club.

    Not that BYU will ever know the feeling.

  • Howard S. Taylorsville, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 9:55 p.m.

    Orem Parent | 4:53 p.m. Dec. 12, 2010
    Orem, UT

    "The only ones STILL disputing the 84 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP are ute fans because they'll NEVER have one."

    Orem Parent should google "disputed national championships" and he/she will discover that a broad variety of college football fans, observers, and commentators still dispute the 84 championship awarded to BYU.

  • MUSSing with U Baltimore, MD
    Dec. 12, 2010 9:14 p.m.


    Yours is just another example of the whining that pervades the folks on the hill who "live across the green" with jealousy.

    The BCS was created for one reason, and one reason only, to keep all of the money in the good ol' boys club.

  • Outsideview Federal Way, WA
    Dec. 12, 2010 9:07 p.m.

    Never doubt BYU's ability to play down to another teams level.

  • Texas Ute Fan Austin, Texas
    Dec. 12, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    Go Miners!

  • SJ Bobkins Gilbert, AZ
    Dec. 12, 2010 8:58 p.m.

    I was living in Tucson in 1985, along with 15 friends and fellow BYU fanatics we drove the 300-400 miles into El Paso to see the game. BYU was rated #7 after putting a big whipping 38-3 on the Washington team that felt "cheated" to have not finished the 1984 year as #1 in the land. After that game it was only the national media that tried to downplay BYU's nat'l championship. The Huskies seemed fine with it. Norm Chow has horrible games when it seems he didn't care about football anymore, this was one. He would call for a pass when #21 Kelly Smith entered the game, UTEP dropped 8 or 9 men in coverage. When #44 came in Peter Tuipoloto (sp?) BYU would call a running play, and UTEP would line up in a goal line defense. Against those outmanned runnings or receivers BYU had little offense, lost dropping to #17. I have wondered all these years WHY, BYU was so predictable and why they didn't take advantage of the coverages.

  • SportzFan Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 7:20 p.m.

    In 1973 Utah beat UTEP 82-6
    In 1974 UTEP beat Utah 34-7

    103 point turnaround. Stuff happens.

    Utah won five games the next three years.

  • Fighter Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 6:57 p.m.

    Just another of the many examples why the 1984 Co National Championship was such a farse.....We have BYU and BYU alone to thank for the creation of the BCS. No one wanted to see a National Champion crowned that way ever again..

  • MiP Iowa City, IA
    Dec. 12, 2010 6:48 p.m.

    I agree with WhiteBuffalo. Certainly "likely" or "probably" exists in college football but "guarenteed" doen't exist.

    They still have to play the game.

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Dec. 12, 2010 6:33 p.m.

    The story on Bosco must explain the problem with Wynn this yr he was awful.
    BYU will win by 20+ points
    Mark it down

  • WhiteBuffalo Tucson, AZ
    Dec. 12, 2010 6:28 p.m.

    It just goes to show that anything is possible: a blow-out by BYU or another upset by UTEP. If I was betting however, my money would be on BYU.

  • JazzMan Centerville, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 5:21 p.m.

    What the heck? They didn't have COLOR photography back in the stone age of 1985?

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 4:53 p.m.

    The only ones STILL disputing the 84 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP are ute fans because they'll NEVER have one.

    Good luck making it to the Vegas bowl again next year. You'll probably be playing BSU again and take another beating just like the one that is about to be delivered this year.

  • eagle Provo, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 1:56 p.m.

    Without a doubt, this game sucked. I also remember that both Bellini and Kozlowski were out with injury that game, in fact Kozlowski missed most of the season.

    But I think it was all due to the fact that BYU got real cocky, had that season ticket lottery in the Marriott Center in the wee hours of the morning where many students got shafted with tickets. That spelled doom for the Cougars that year ha ha :)

  • Howard S. Taylorsville, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 1:37 p.m.

    BlueCoug | 1:36 a.m. Dec. 12, 2010
    Orem, UT

    "After the season, it was discovered that Bosco had a shoulder injury..."

    BlueCoug -

    To suggest that Bosco's 1985 shoulder injury was not discovered until after the season is revisionist history.

    In 1985 caller after caller to the post game call in shows asked Lavell why Bosco never threw more than 20 yards downfield.

    Mike Holmgren, the BYU QB coach in 1985, was later quoted as saying the it was the worst kept secret in Provo the due to his injury Bosco was incapable of throwing more than 20 yards.

    But they played him anyway and it has been speculated that his injury cost him an opportunity to play in the NFL.

  • deductive reasoning Arlington, VA
    Dec. 12, 2010 12:44 p.m.


    You have a warped view of history.

    The UTEP upset, while, disappointing, was hardly the program changing debacle you describe.

    Five years after the UTEP game, Ty Detmer won the Heisman and BYU beat the defending national champion, the then #1-ranked team in the country, the biggest, baddest boys of the day, Miami.

    Eleven years after the UTEP game, BYU finished 14-1 with a win over a very good Big 12 team, Kansas State, in the Cotton Bowl.

    Just last season, BYU finished 11-2, #12, with a resounding defeat of then #16 Oregon State, a team that tied for 2nd in the PAC 10.

    Hardly signs of a program that was sent into a tailspin by one upset loss that they're still recovering from 25 years later.

  • Friendly Smiles Big City, Utah
    Dec. 12, 2010 12:34 p.m.

    Do you actually believe the zoobs will win this bowl game? Jake H. is not mature enough, he is as bad as Jordan W. of Utah. Zoobies, I think it best you forfeit the game and leave BYU and the state of Utah with some sort of dignity !! :(

  • '90Cougar Hampstead, NC
    Dec. 12, 2010 12:08 p.m.

    BlueCoug says, "The difference between being undefeated in 1984, and losing three games in 1985, was those three interceptions."

    I know it's tempting to draw that conclusion, but there is a HUGE difference between an undefeated season and a three-loss campaign.

  • bgl Santa Monica, CA
    Dec. 12, 2010 11:48 a.m.

    I really think that this loss but a huge foot on the brakes of what was becoming a juggernaut. A wonderful '84 season where the Coogs played the 6-5 Wolverines in the Holiday Bowl and won a very disputed (to this day) National Championship and then the amazing '85 season. I felt that BYU was moving into that hallowed area where nothing but top notch recruits and BIG bowl games would follow until they were recognized at Florida State level. Or the equal of some of the 2nd tier SEC programs. But since this loss truly burst the momentum bubble. Just as a loss to the lowly Rebs at Sam Boyd served to turn the Utes into the program they are today, this loss--(where opposing players claimed the the Y players yawned and chatted during opening warmups) --spelled doom for BYU and a downward spiral from which they are still trying to recover.

  • Desert Coug Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 12, 2010 11:26 a.m.

    I've been reading BIG HAPA'S comments all season long and my conclusion at the end is that though he is a fan of Cougar football, I don't think he will ever be a fan of Quarterback Jake Heaps. It is the privilege of this forum to be able to express one's opinion (Civilly of course) but I must sigh usually after reading his post.

    Big Hapa, Feel the love brother.

    Go Cougs!

  • Boomer Chicago, IL
    Dec. 12, 2010 10:28 a.m.

    The Cougars need to bounce back and build momentum for a strong 2011. Meanwhile their ESPN "partner"--as people like to say here--just named BYU the Biggest Disappointment in 2010 amongst the non-automatic qualifiers.

  • Big Hapa Kaysville, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 10:07 a.m.

    It could happen again ! The Cougs have allot to prove still, with there beat up team and freshman frozen in the red zone qb, UTEP could do it again.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 9:58 a.m.

    Awesome. My friend wouldn't answer his phone when I called him after that games.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Dec. 12, 2010 7:56 a.m.

    Anytime you can run a story like this please, please do it. It's so entertaining.
    It's just like getting an early Christmas present.

  • DEW Cougars Sandy, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 2:34 a.m.

    you had to bring that bad memory again? put it the trash bin and never try to bring it back.

  • BlueCoug Orem, UT
    Dec. 12, 2010 1:36 a.m.

    BYU lost 3 games in 1985, to UCLA, UTEP and Ohio State, all on intercepted passes returned for touchdowns.

    Each pass was earily similar -- an out-pattern to the sideline.

    After the season, it was discovered that Bosco had a shoulder injury that was probably taking just enough zip off those long passes, to allow defenders time to step in front of his intended receiver for the interception.

    UTEP's interception was returned 100 yards. A quick 14-point swing, since BYU was knocking on the door ready to score.

    The difference between being undefeated in 1984, and losing three games in 1985, was those three interceptions.