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10. BYU 21, Notre Dame 14 (October 15, 1994)
9. BYU 31, TCU 17 (September 28, 2006)
8. BYU 70, Utah 31 (November 18, 1989)
7. BYU 18, Texas A&M 17 (September 8, 1979)
This game is the one that got it all going and put BYU on the map nationally. Despite the WAC championships in 1974, 1976-78, and even receiving a vote for number one early in the 1977 season, BYU was relatively unknown coming into the 1979 season. On the other hand, Texas A&M was a recognized force nationally.
In typical fashion for season opening games under LaVell Edwards, the passing game struggled with its timing and the offense was not very productive. The defense, however, rose to the challenge. A goal line stand and a blocked punt helped keep this game close and within reach late in the fourth quarter when the offense finally started to click.
Starting quarterback Marc Wilson was playing in this game still recovering from an emergency appendectomy during the summer. His 6’5” frame had dropped to 165 pounds. Nevertheless, with the game on the line, Wilson drove BYU down the field for a touchdown with 52 seconds left to pull within one, 17-16. Coach Edwards let the team decide whether to go for one or two. The team elected to try a potential game winning two-point conversion, rather than settle for a tie. It worked, and BYU won the game and started what was then the greatest season in BYU history.
Score (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1. Caliber of opponent: 15 points (25). Texas A&M was ranked number 14 at the time of the game, but finished the year only 6-5. Five players were drafted in 1980 (including the 5th and 10th overall picks) and two more were drafted in 1981.
2. What was at stake: 10 points (20). National respect was at stake. BYU had won the WAC championship in four of the last five years, and won nine games each of the last two seasons. However, BYU had never beaten a quality team outside the WAC, which was even more important for BYU’s credibility since Arizona State and Arizona left the WAC the year before.
3. What was the impact: 16 points (20). This win was the catalyst for BYU’s first undefeated regular season, and first top 10 ranking in the national polls. The Texas media took notice of BYU, which was very important for a program’s reputation back then. Marc Wilson placed third in the Heisman Trophy voting. LaVell Edwards was voted National Coach of the Year. Although it was five years prior, this game probably helped BYU win the national championship in 1984.
4. Underdog: 10 points (10). BYU was a heavy underdog.
5. Dramatic win: 8 points (10). BYU scored the winning touchdown with less than a minute to play.
6. Underlying storylines: 3 points (5). Marc Wilson’s burst appendix and subsequent weight loss. The game was played in Houston since the Texas A&M stadium in College Station, TX, was being renovated.
7. Nostalgia: 5 points (10). This game put BYU permanently on the map. This was the first major upset by BYU, and “giant slayer” has now become part of BYU’s identity.
8. Total: 67 points
Video highlights: BYU 18, Texas A&M 17 (This video starts with the 1979 Texas A&M game, but it has some additional footage)
6. BYU 20, Pittsburgh 14 (September 1, 1984)
5. BYU 14, Oklahoma 13 (September 5, 2009)
4. BYU 24, Michigan 17 (December 21, 1984)
3. BYU 19, Kansas State 15 (January 1, 1997)
2. BYU 46, SMU 45 (December 19, 1980)
1. BYU 28, Miami 21 (September 8, 1990)