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10. BYU 21, Notre Dame 14 (October 15, 1994)
9. BYU 31, TCU 17 (September 28, 2006)
This game makes the list for two reasons. Not only did BYU thump 17th ranked TCU on the road, this game marks the turning point when BYU football left mediocrity and started its ascent back to being a nationally recognized and respected program. Four games in to Bronco Mendenhall’s second season as head coach, BYU had a 0.500 record for the season (2-2) and Mendenhall’s career (8-8). That all changed when BYU went on the road to play the defending MWC champions.
BYU used strong defense in the first half, highlighted by a David Nixon sack that forced a fumble and ended a TCU scoring threat, to build a 10-0 lead. TCU cut the lead to seven with a field goal just before halftime. After trading touchdowns in the third quarter, BYU blew the game open with touchdowns on the first two drives of the fourth quarter pushing the lead to 31-10. TCU made a push late and pulled within two scores with 1:55 to play, but BYU ran 1:50 off the clock before punting the ball back to TCU.
John Beck played one of the best games ever by a BYU quarterback. His stats were modest (23-37, 321, 3 TDs), but the way he ran the offense, converted critical third and fourth downs, and delivered perfect passes to his receivers, all while playing with two injured ankles, was gutsy and the sign of a leader.
Perhaps the biggest stat of the game was zero turnovers. BYU completely bucked the trend to make big games against tough opponents more difficult by turning the ball over many, many times.
Score (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1. Caliber of Opponent: 20 points (25). TCU was ranked number 17 and was 3-0 with the nation’s longest win streak (13 games). TCU finished the year ranked number 22 with an 11-2 record. Two Horned Frogs were drafted in the 2007 NFL draft.
2. What was at stake: 10 points (20). Respect. Confidence.
3. What was the impact: 17 points (20). This was the turning point for BYU football. After four years without a winning record, this win gave BYU the confidence it needed to win the other eight games played this year, win the MWC championship for the first time since 2001, and start the current streak of four 10 win seasons and four seasons ranked in the top 25.
4. Underdog: 5 points (10). BYU was the underdog.
5. Dramatic win: 0 points (10). BYU routed TCU. No need for dramatics.
6. Underlying storylines: 2 points (5). TCU had nation’s longest win streak. BYU blew a big second half lead in 2005 to lose 51-50 in overtime. John Beck was playing hurt.
7. Nostalgia: 5 points (10). The impact and importance of this game was so subtle at the time, this game has not gotten the attention it deserves. Die hard fans understand how great this game was, but the majority of fans don’t. My guess is that this game would rank no higher than third in a poll of the best games from 2006.
8. Total: 59 points
BYU vs. TCU, 2006
BYU vs. TCU, 2006, #2
BYU vs. TCU, 2006 #3
8. BYU 70, Utah 31 (November 18, 1989)
7. BYU 18, Texas A&M 17 (September 8, 1979)
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)