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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

BYU and the Big XII

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

Now that any sliver of hope, if there ever really was one, for a Pac-10 invite is gone, we can focus our sights on the Big XII. From the beginning I said I liked the idea of BYU going to the Big XII more than the Pac-10. The level of play in the Big XII is better than the Pac-10, and, honestly, I am tired of seeing the Pac-10 teams. BYU regularly schedules Pac-10 opponents for non-conference games, and regularly plays Pac-10 teams in bowl games. Don't get me wrong. BYU has had some good games against Pac-10 foes (59-0 comes to mind, Oregon and Oregon State in the Vegas Bowl, Washington to open the 1999 season), but one, sometimes two, Pac-10 teams almost every year is getting tiresome.

The realities of conference expansion have become very clear the last six months. Here is a short list of what we have learned about conference expansion:

1. Money matters.
2. Television = Money.
3. Geography does not matter.
4. Convenience matters (read no Sunday play issue)
5. Numbers 1-4 far outweigh the athletics and academics of a school.
6. Schools only worry about their own best interest.
7. The Univsersity of Texas wants as much control as possible.

With all these realities, especially number 7, out in the open, I am not as favorable about BYU to the Big XII as I previously was. However, if the Big XII extends an invite, I still say take it. (Mostly because I think if conditions ever become so bad--Texas exercising "unrighteous dominion"--the MWC would let BYU back in.)

The odds of BYU being invited to the Big XII are definitely higher than they were for BYU and the Pac-10, but BYU is no slam dunk when the Big XII finally does expand. (Don't listen to the rhetoric about staying at 10 teams, they will return to 12.) Evidence that BYU has a fair chance is that Oklahoma has already pushed for BYU to be included, that the Big XII has made it clear that they want to expand the conference footprint, and that BYU best replaces what was lost when Nebraska left--a national following (Notre Dames does not count).

Despite the new found trepidation about being one of Texas' pawns, Big XII membership still offers many advantages. These advantages include the increased national recognition and perception of being part of a BCS automatic qualifying conference, the increased revenues from television and bowl contracts, and the ability to be competitive.

What will happen in the end? That is still unclear. I am preparing myself for the worst (no Big XII invite for BYU, but a Big XII invite for TCU). It is hard to overemphasize the potential impact of Texas politics and the affiliation of BYU with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in conference expansion decisions. BYU has a nice resume and brings a respectable offer to the table. Unfortunately, it is not an offer that dwarfs the competition, which could make some of the more minor issues (geographical location, no Sunday play) work against BYU in the end. While I want to see BYU get the invite to the Big XII and BYU is qualified and deserving of the invite, I won't worry if the Big XII snubs BYU in the end. BYU and its fans have ample reason to be satisfied by staying in the MWC (more on that if BYU is left out of a 12 team Big XII).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poll Results: After expansion BYU will be

The poll results were balanced. BYU will be in a worse situation (watered down MWC) got 32% of the vote to edge out a similar situation (29%) and in a better situation (25%). The rest of the votes (12%) went to an unknown situation (Big 12 minust 6 to Pac 10).

Right now, I would put BYU in the similar situation category. Although Utah left, adding Boise State makes up for the loss. However, it is still possible that TCU will leave the MWC for the Big 12, or that BYU joins the Big 12. While the poll is done, conference expansion goes on.

Thank you to all who participated. Don't forget to vote in the new poll: Should BYU continue to play Utah?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games: #1-Miami, 1990

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

This is the end of the countdown. Some readers have expressed an interest in knowing what other games were considered, so I have included an Honorable Mention list in the comments section following this post. Thank you to all who participated and gave feedback. I hope it was very enjoyable for everyone.

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)
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)
Miami is probably the best team that BYU has ever beaten. On this day, however, BYU dominated. BYU racked up 474 yards of total offense. The defense limited the Hurricanes to less than 300 yards passing and only 96 yards rushing on 37 carries (2.6 yards per carry). Earl Kauffman kicked two field goals and averaged 53.8 yards on his four punts. The game was a total team effort. The only thing that kept this game close was five BYU turnovers (four fumbles, one interception).

This game won the Heisman Trophy for Ty Detmer. He looked the part in every way. With time running out in the second quarter, Detmer dissected the Miami defense to lead BYU to a touchdown and a 17-14 lead at the break. Later in the third quarter, he stepped out of a sack, causing two Miami defenders to collide, and threw the game winning touchdown with four defenders closing in on him. For the game, Detmer was 38-54 (70.4%), 406 yards, and 3 touchdown passes. He even earned some style points by playing with a huge cut under his chin as a result of standing in the pocket and taking a shot just after he released a perfect strike to tight end Chris Smith in the second quarter.

The defense turned it up a notch in the fourth quarter to protect the seven point lead. Three times the mighty ‘Canes entered the red zone. Three times they came away empty handed. BYU recovered a Miami fumble the first time. Later, Miami took over at the BYU 38-yard line following a BYU fumble and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but this drive ended with defensive back Ervin Lee intercepting a Craig Erickson pass in the end zone. With less than two minutes to play, Miami had one last chance. On fourth down, Erickson lofted a pass down the sideline. Ervin Lee was in coverage again. The Miami receiver jumped high in the air and caught the ball at the 2-yard line, but before he could come down with it Lee stuck his hand in and knocked the ball out. At that point, the offense took over and ran out the clock.

Scores (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1. Caliber of Opponent: 25 points (25). Miami was ranked number 1, finished the season 10-2, and had 11 players selected in the 1991 NFL draft (2 first rounders including the number one overall pick) and 6 players selected in the 1992 NFL draft (2 first rounders).
2. What was at stake: 16 points (20). BYU was vigorously campaigning for Ty Detmer to win the Heisman Trophy. A bad game makes winning the Heisman much harder. BYU was ranked number 16 and a loss would have dropped BYU in the rankings.
3. What was the impact: 20 points (20). After the game, BYU jumped to number 5 in the AP poll, and the national championship was a possibility, even after BYU lost to Oregon three games later (BYU climbed back to as high as 4 and had three first place votes). Detmer became the front runner for the Heisman, and the momentum from this game landed him in first place at the end of the year. Detmer collected many other accolades, honors, and awards at season’s end. His stellar performance in this game had much to do with this.
4. Underdog: 10 points (10). BYU was a heavy underdog.
5. Dramatic win: 7 points (10). No points were scored in the fourth quarter, but the defense had plenty of late game heroics stopping all of Miami’s attempts to pull out a fourth quarter comeback.
6. Underlying storylines: 3 points (5). BYU won despite 5 turnovers. Miami quarterback Craig Erickson was also a Heisman Trophy candidate, Miami defensive tackle Russell Maryland won the Outland Trophy this year. Not only was Miami ranked number one, the Hurricanes were the defending national champions.
7. Nostalgia: 10 points (10). Only the National Championship means more to BYU fans than this game and the Heisman that it brought to Provo.
8. Total: 91 points

Video highlights:
BYU vs. Miami, 1990

Full game footage:
BYU vs. Miami, 1990

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games: #2-SMU, 1980

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

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)
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)
Those old enough to remember this game will tell you that this game was on its way to the worst 10 games list until the 3:58 mark of the fourth quarter. Down 45-25, the final 3:58 was so great and miraculous that not only does this game make the top 10, but it ranks number 2 all-time.

Led by Jim McMahon’s 4,571 passing yards and 47 touchdown passes, BYU had its most prolific offense in 1980 as the team bounced back from an opening day loss to win the next 11 games. That is why surrendering 45 points and over 300 yards rushing to Craig James and Eric Dickerson was so deflating. There were some bright spots before the miraculous comeback. McMahon had connected with Clay Brown for a 64-yard touchdown and Via Sikahema returned a punt 83 yards for another touchdown. However, BYU was tired of losing bowl games. Therefore, with 3:58 left to play and down 45-25, Jim McMahon put the team on his back and led the greatest comeback in BYU history.

McMahon drove BYU the length of the field for the first touchdown to cut the lead to 45-31. After a successful on sides kick, McMahon got BYU close to the goal line within seconds by completing a long pass to Bill Davis. Scott Phillips ran the ball in, and then caught the two point conversion to close the gap to six with 1:57 to play. The ensuing on sides kick failed. The defense rose to the occasion and stopped SMU on three straight runs to force a punt. Bill Schoephlin blocked the punt to give BYU the ball at the SMU 41-yard line with 13 seconds to play. Two incomplete passes and 10 seconds later, BYU had one last chance. Everyone knew what was coming, yet somehow, Clay Brown was able to pull down McMahon’s perfect Hail Mary with three SMU defenders surrounding him. This play, however, only tied the game. Kurt Gunther then came on to the field and put the cherry on top by splitting the uprights.

Score (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1. Caliber of opponent: 20 points (25). SMU came into this game ranked number 19. The Mustangs had posted an 8-3 regular season record and had placed second in the Southwest Conference (SWC). Four SMU players were drafted in the 1981 NFL draft, three players were selected in the 1982 draft, and Eric Dickerson (2nd pick overall) and Craig James were selected in 1983.
2. Was was at stake: 16 points (20). National respect was at stake. Despite an 11-1 regular season BYU was only ranked number 14. BYU had played in four bowl games since 1974 and had lost all of them.
3. What was the impact: 16 points (20). BYU got the bowl-loss-monkey off its back. BYU gained substantial national respect. The win pushed BYU’s win streak to 12 games, which was then a school record.
4. Underdog: 5 points (10). One internet site rates this game as the 35th best all-time sports upset, so I’ll give this game five points. BYU had the better record and better ranking, so I can’t justify giving more points.
5. Dramatic win: 10 points (10). I dare you to find a more dramatic finish (a hail mary, a blocked punt, onside kicks—yes, that is plural, a 20 point comeback with under four minutes in the fourth quarter).
6. Underlying storylines: 4 points (5). BYU was under pressure to win having lost the first two Holiday Bowls. LaVell Edwards is on record saying he felt more pressure in this game than the 1984 Holiday Bowl. The game was a total contrast in styles; SMU had the Pony Express and BYU had the passing game. BYU had tied the school record for most consecutive wins (11) and needed a win to establish a new record.
7. Nostalgia: 10 points (10). Those last 3:58 seconds were so great, no one cares that the defense was horrible that night for 56:02. Even 30 years later, this game is nationally recognized as one of the best bowl games and greatest comebacks of all-time.
8. Total: 81 points

Video Highlights: BYU vs. SMU, 1980

Full game footage: BYU vs. SMU, 1980

1. BYU 28, Miami 21 (September 8, 1990)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games, #3-Kansas State, 1997

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

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)
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)

BYU finished the 1996 season, the longest season in NCAA history (15 games), on the first day of 1997. Even though the Cotton Bowl was the first January bowl game for BYU, playing in the game was bittersweet. Just a few weeks earlier, the Bowl Alliance passed on BYU, ranked number 5 in both major polls, for one of its three lucrative bowls.

The final score does not indicate it, but BYU controlled this game. The defense held Kansas State to 41 yard rushing on 32 carries and only 233 yards passing (113 of those yards came on two throws). The Wildcats were only able to score on two fluke pass plays (Hail Mary at the end of the first half that bounced into the Kansas State receiver's hands, and a long run after BYU missed a tackle on a short slant pass). Shay Muirbrook registered six sacks. The only other time that Kansas State was able to move the ball was the last 3:30 after BYU scored the go ahead touchdown. BYU jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, and the offense accumulated 350 yards of total offense while overcoming poor officiating (two blatant pass interference penalties were not called) to win the game.

It was only fitting that Steve Sarkisian hooked up with K.O. Kealaluhi for the game winning touchdown. The magic in 1996 started when these two connected in the first game on a 46-yard touchdown to upset 13th ranked Texas A&M. After the touchdown pass to Kealaluhi, Kansas State drove into scoring range. Both cornerbacks made huge plays to win the game. Kansas State quarterback Matt Kavanagh threw a pass high into the back of the end zone. Kevin Lockett leaped and pulled it in, but Tim McTyer made a heads up play and pushed Lockett out of bounds. Then, Omarr Morgan stepped in front of a slant pattern and intercepted the pass to seal the victory.

Score (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1. Caliber of Opponent: 20 points (25). Kansas State was ranked number 14 with a 9-2 regular season record. Three Kansas State players were drafted in the next two NFL drafts (all were first or second round picks).
2. What was at stake: 20 points (20). BYU had a lot to lose in this game. Having been snubbed by the Bowl Alliance, this was a must win situation. A loss would legitimize the snub, a win would leave America questioning what might have, or even should have, been. BYU was ranked number 5—the second highest ranking ever for a BYU team—and a win would preserve this lofty ranking. A win would set a school and NCAA record for wins in a season.
3. What was the impact: 20 points (20). BYU won its first January bowl game, ended the season ranked number 5, and set a new NCAA and school record with 14 wins in a season. Most importantly, the win had national ramifications. It put a chink in the Bowl Alliance armor and led to a guaranteed at-large invite to a Bowl Alliance/BCS bowl if a team was ranked in the top 6. Later, LaVell Edwards would testify before Congress regarding the injustices of the Bowl Alliance.
4. Underdog: 0 points (10). I can’t find anything indicating who was favored by the odds makers. Whoever was favored, it wasn’t by much as Kansas State had more fans in the stadium, less miles to travel, and that oh so important Big XII conference label.
5. Dramatic win: 9 points (10). Poor officiating when BYU was trying to make a comeback. Two fourth quarter touchdowns, the final touchdown came with less than four minutes to play. Kansas State was driving to answer and take back the lead when Omarr Morgan intercepted a pass inside the 5-yard line to seal the win. Tim McTyer pushing Kevin Lockett out of the end zone on a pass that would have won the game.
6. Underlying storylines: 5 points (5). The Bowl Alliance snub alone is enough to get full points for this category, but we should not forget that tight end Itula Mili did not play having injured his knee in the WAC Championship game. First January bowl game in BYU history. Sarkisian tied the Cotton Bowl record with 21 pass completions.
7. Nostalgia: 6 points (10). The entire 1996 season was so great that this game tends to get caught up in the collective greatness of that year. Rather than stand on its own as a great GAME, as the years have passed the Cotton Bowl has become the capstone to a remarkable year.
8. Total: 80 points.

Video highlights:
BYU vs. Kansas State, 1997, #1
BYU vs. Kansas State, 1997, #2

Full game footage:
BYU vs. Kansas State, 1997

2. BYU 46, SMU 45 (December 19, 1980)
1. BYU 28, Miami 21 (September 8, 1990)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games, #4-Michigan, 1984

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

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)
6. BYU 20, Pittsburgh 14 (September 1, 1984)
5. BYU 14, Oklahoma 13 (September 5, 2009)

4. BYU 24, Michigan 17 (December 21, 1984)
Without the national championship being on the line, this game would not get a sniff at the top 10, let alone the top 5. If BYU had won big, or had played a better opponent, this game would make a push for number 1. As it is, the national championship slant to this game elevated the value of this game, but it was not the only thing that gets this game the number four spot.

When the game began, quarterback Robbie Bosco was already suffering from rib and ankle injuries. A late hit in the first quarter sent Bosco out of the game with a knee injury. He was able to return for the next offensive series, but the injury forced BYU to adjust its offense by using the shotgun. Bosco made one of the gutsiest performances ever by a BYU quarterback.

This game was marred by turnovers. BYU turned the ball over six times (three fumbles, three interceptions). One was a Robbie Bosco fumble at the goal line that negated a sure score. While six turnovers is undesirable, it helps to explain why the number one ranked team didn’t blow out a middle of the pack Big 10 team. The turnovers also add to the legacy of the 1984 BYU defense.

Going into the game, LaVell Edwards called the defensive unit his best defense ever, and it showed in this game. A BYU fumble at the BYU 11-yard line resulted in only a field goal. Michigan ended the game with just 202 total yards, less than five yards in the fourth quarter.

Down seven in the fourth quarter, the BYU offense drove the length of the field twice to score touchdowns. Kelly Smith hauled in the winning pass from Bosco with 1:23 to play.

Score (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1. Caliber of Opponent: 15 points (25). Michigan was not ranked, and barely had a winning record (6-5). However, Michigan was ranked number 3 earlier in the year after beating number one ranked Miami. The season turned south for Michigan when quarterback Jim Harbaugh was injured. By season’s end, Michigan was down to their third string QB. The Michigan defense was a typical strong Michigan defense that year (only two teams scored more than 21 points). One Michigan player was drafted in 1985, but he was a first rounder. Four more were drafted in 1986, and Bob Perryman (Michigan’s leading rusher in this game) was drafted in 1987.
2. What was at stake: 20 points (20). A National Championship. Need I say more?
3. What was the impact: 20 points (20). A National Championship. Need I say more?
4. Underdog: 0 points (10). BYU was a heavy favorite.
5. Dramatic win: 0 points (10). As the number one team BYU should not have needed a score with 1:23 left to play to win.
6. Underlying storylines: 5 points (5). The controversy of whether BYU deserved to be national champions: Barry Switzer campaigning for Oklahoma to be number one, Bryant Gumble’s “Bo Diddly Tech” comment. Bosco going down in the first quarter on a late hit. Bo Schembechler’s post game complaints. Holiday Bowl record: one punt. Overcoming six turnovers to still win.
7. Nostalgia: 10 points (10). The end to the one and only perfect season in BYU football history.
8. Total: 70 points

Full game footage: BYU vs. Michigan, 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)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm

Monday, June 14, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games, #5-Oklahoma, 2009

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

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)
6. BYU 20, Pittsburgh 14 (September 1, 1984)

5. BYU 14, Oklahoma 13 (September 5, 2009)
Last year, BYU opened the season against the number 3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. While defeating the number 3 ranked team is always special, this upset had an added element to it. BYU completed its return to glory from the dark years of 2002-04 at the opening of Bronco Mendenhall’s fifth season. Bowl game? Check. Conference Championship? Check. National Ranking? Check. Beat a national power? Check.

McKay Jacobson looked like he would be the goat of the game when he fumbled an early punt that led to an Oklahoma touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Jacobson became the hometown hero as he caught the game winning touchdown pass from Max Hall with 3:03 to play. Jacobson, a native of Southlake, Texas, was playing his first game since 2006 after a 2-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to Japan, and it showed as he tried to field a punt on the run in the first quarter. By the fourth quarter, he had shaken off the rust and caught the 7-yard pass from Hall as the Oklahoma defense converged on tight end Dennis Pitta and left Jacobson alone in the back of the end zone.

Never mind that 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford spent the second half on the sideline with an ice pack on his shoulder. The Cougar defense dominated the Sooners in the first half. Turnovers is what gave Oklahoma the lead early. BYU’s defense held Bradford to 96 yards passing. BYU was in control of this game from start to finish. The defense forced a 3 and out to start the game. BYU’s offense drove down the field, and, if not for a delay of game penalty negating a 41-yard field goal, would have gone ahead 3-0. As it was, Jacobson’s fumble gave Oklahoma 7 points. An O’Neill Chambers fumble at the 1-yard line lost 7 points for BYU. Although the Cougar D gave up two big penalties (late hit and a face mask) to get Oklahoma into field goal range to end the half, the D played spectacularly well. Oklahoma never sustained a drive against the stingy Cougar defense. Look at these numbers:

Oklahoma third down conversions: 2-11
Passing yards: 147
Rushing yards: 118

The defense's finest moment came at the end of the third quarter after Oklahoma intercepted Max Hall just 22 yards away from the end zone. Two plays later at the start of the fourth quarter, Oklahoma was on the BYU 8-yard line. Oklahoma had seven tries to score, thanks to a fresh set of downs off a BYU penalty, but the defense stopped Oklahoma stone cold and forced Oklahoma to kick a field goal to keep the game a one possession game, 13-7.

On offense, BYU was not without injury itself. A hamstring injury kept running back Harvey Unga out all night. Unga had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 2007 and 2008. This placed a greater burden on Hall, who did not perform well in big games in 2008. This time Hall came up big leading the fourth quarter go-ahead touchdown drive that was 16 plays, 78 yards, and took 8:44 off the clock. He completed 9 of 10 passes on the drive, including a 23-yard pass to Dennis Pitta on 4th and 4 and the game winner to Jacobson making it 14-13.

Score (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1. Caliber of Opponent: 22 points (25). Oklahoma was ranked number 3, played for the national championship the year before, had the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, two 1,000 yard running backs, and a defense that ended the year as a top 10 defense. Oklahoma finished the year a disappointing 8-5, due to the loss of Sam Bradford halfway through this game. Seven Oklahoma players (including three of the first four picks overall) were selected in the 2010 NFL draft, which is the only draft since this game.
2. What was at stake: 10 points (20). BYU was branded as a team that could not beat quality opponents after losing to TCU, Utah, and Arizona in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2008. All prognostications had BYU losing handily. After three consecutive 10+ win seasons, BYU was fighting to keep the national respect that it had gained.
3. What was the impact: 12 points (20). BYU, and particularly Max Hall, shed the image of being a team that folded in games that matter. BYU jumped from number 20 to number 9 in the rankings. Pundits were seriously considering BYU as a national title contender. I would give more points to this category, but we all remember what happened two weeks later against Florida State.
4. Underdog: 10 points (10). BYU was a heavy underdog.
5. Dramatic win: 4 points (10). The winning score came with 3:03 left in the game, but the fourth down conversion on the game winning drive was clutch. Oklahoma’s last chance ended with a missed 54-yard field goal attempt with 1:23 left. Not very dramatic. Intense, yes, but dramatic? No.
6. Underlying storylines: 3 points (5). First non-exhibition game in the Dallas Cowboys new stadium. Leading rusher Harvey Unga out with a hamstring injury. Sooner tight end Jermaine Gresham out with an injury. Both teams breaking in new offensive lines. Injury to Sam Bradford.
7. Nostalgia: 8 points (10). Upsetting a highly ranked national powerhouse was the last piece in restoring BYU to national prominence after the slide from 2002-2004. With the way BYU dominated this game on both sides of the ball, the greatness of this game should grow as time goes by.
8. Total: 69 points

Video Highlights:
BYU vs. Oklahoma, 2009, #1
BYU vs. Oklahoma, 2009, #2
BYU vs. Oklahoma, 2009, #3

Full game footage: BYU vs. Oklahoma, 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)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=292480201&period=0

Friday, June 11, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games, #6-Pitt, 1984

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

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)

6. BYU 20, Pittsburgh 14 (September 1, 1984)

Five years after BYU started its first perfect regular season by upsetting a nationally recognized program, BYU did it again in 1984. Known at this time as the “Beast of the East,” Pitt was ranked number 3 in the nation, not quite the same as Texas A&M's number 14 ranking. Robbie Bosco was making his first career start, whereas Marc Wilson was a senior with two years starting under his belt in 1979.

The game started slow with each defense keeping the offenses scoreless in the first quarter. In the second, BYU was able to get on the scoreboard with a field goal. Pitt was on the verge of scoring as well, but the BYU D stood its ground and kept the Panthers out of the end zone.

Turnovers swung the momentum into Pitt's favor in the third quarter. Two Bosco interceptions resulted in Pitt touchdowns. Later in the second half, however, BYU's Marv Allen came up with two interceptions of his own to help get BYU back in the game.

Bocso had played very well as a reserve the year before, but he was having a rough time in his first start. Despite Bosco's pedestrian performance through most the game, BYU found itself down two with two minutes to play, and the ball was in Bosco's hands. BYU had moved to midfield when Bosco dropped back to pass and spotted Adam Haysbert behind everyone. Haysbert shrugged off a Pitt defender, hauled in Bosco's pass, and raced the rest of the way to the end zone for the winning score with 1:37 to play.

Score (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1.Caliber of Opponent: 13 points (25). Pittsburgh was ranked number 3 to start the season and had the reputation of the “Beast in the East.” The season, however, ended a disappointment (3-7-1). Five Pitt Panthers were drafted in the 1985 NFL draft (including the second and fourth overall picks), and two in the 1986 draft (one first rounder).
2.What was at stake: 14 points (20). Although it was not known at the time, it is clear now that the national championship was at stake. As is always the case in high profile non-conference games, national respect was on the line.
3.What was the impact: 18 points (20). With the upset victory, BYU jumped to number 13 in the AP poll, and hit the ground running towards the national crown. This game was an important factor in the season ending with the national championship. If BYU had played a less prominent team, the win would not carry the same weight. The game probably would not have been live on national television either.
4.Underdog: 10 points (10). BYU was a heavy underdog.
5.Dramatic win: 6 points (10). The final score came with 1:37 to play on a 50-yard bomb. The Cougar defense stopped Pitt on fourth down at the BYU 30-yard line to get the ball back and run out the clock.
6.Underlying storylines: 2 points (5). First live college football game on ESPN. Jump started the national title run. Robbie Bosco’s first career start.
7.Nostalgia: 5 points (10). Pitt’s poor season and the BYU offense struggling most of the day takes away from the nostalgia a bit. The greatness of this game has been lost, somewhat, by being lumped in with the season as a whole, and the Holiday Bowl sticks out as the best game of 1984 because it was the culmination of the national championship run.
8.Total: 68 points.

Video highlights:
BYU 20, Pitt 14, Part 1 (starts at the 8:50 mark)
BYU 20, Pitt 14, Part 2 (continues where Part 1 ends)

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)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games: #7-Texas A&M, 1979

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

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)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games: #8-Utah, 1989

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

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)
No top 10 list would be complete without a game against archrival Utah. While this game did not have a fourth down bomb to keep the winning drive alive (2000, 2007), a BYU player streaking towards the end zone for the winning score (2001, 2009), or a super human throw to a wide open tight end with no time on the clock (2006), this game trumps them all because this is a rivalry. I do enjoy the bragging rights that the five games I eluded to have provided during the last decade, but my first option is always to see BYU stomp the Utes and have the outcome decided by halftime. For a rivalry game to make the top 10, the complete body of work is important. It has to embarrass the rival.

In 1989, BYU put up 49 points in the first half, scored on a 76-yard pass play and an 81-yard run, racked up over 750 yards of total offense, and scored more points than either team has ever scored in the rivalry, all while exacting revenge for the disaster the year before in Salt Lake City. Ty Detmer played nearly flawless: 18-22, 358 yards, 4 touchdowns. This was the type of game that you only dream of. However, I am still bothered by the fact that BYU let Utah score 31 points, even if the game was far, far, far out of reach.

Running back Fred Whittingham said after the game, “It was just as easy as it looked. It was like we were running against air. It was easy to break tackles and find holes. Their defense didn’t seem to be there.” Even as a nine year old, I remember being awestruck with the ease that BYU took the ball down and scored on every possession in the first half, while the defense held Utah scoreless. It left me in disbelief wondering, “Is it always this way?”

Score (maximum points for each category is in parenthesis):
1. Caliber of Opponent: 10 points (25). Utah was 4-6 coming into this game (ended the season 4-8), and Scott Mitchell, who was injured for this game, was the only Utah player drafted by the NFL in 1990. Utah gets points for being BYU’s archrival. You know what they say, “Throw the records out when they play”—just look at 1988.
2. What was at stake: 16 points (20). Bragging rights and the in-state recruiting battle. First conference championship since 1985 (BYU was in a tight race with Air Force. Each team had one conference loss, but BYU held the tie breaker having beat Air Force the week before. BYU had to win out to win the conference.)
3. What was the impact: 15 points (20). BYU reclaimed dominance in the state of Utah, and was one step closer to returning to its rightful place atop the WAC. Ty Detmer bumped up a couple of notches on the BYU Quarterback totem pole.
4. Underdog: 0 points (10). The Scott Mitchell injury caused the line for this game to be removed, but a BYU loss would have been an upset—with or without Mitchell.
5. Dramatic win: 5 points (10). As a rivalry game, this game is not subject to the normal criteria for drama. This is the way you want a rivalry game to end, especially when you are favored to win.
6. Underlying Storylines: 4 points (5). Revenge! Utah embarrassed BYU the year before to end BYU’s nine game win streak in this rivalry (1979-1987). The Scott Mitchell injury on the last play of practice during the week leading up to the game. WAC championship race.
7. Nostalgia: 10 points (10). The nostalgia of this game grows with each year that BYU loses to Utah, or has to engineer a last minute victory. BYU has not beat Utah by more than a touchdown since 1996.
8. Total: 60 points

Video highlights: BYU vs. Utah, 1989

Full game footage: BYU vs. Utah, 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)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_War_(Utah_vs._BYU)

Poll results: Who will lead BYU in rushing in 2010?

Joshua Quezada streaked past Bryan Kariya and J.J. Di Luigi in the final days of the poll to win in a landslide. "Q" received 52% of the vote, compared to 22% for Di Luigi and 20% for Kariya. Incoming freshman Drew Phillips was the only other player to receive votes.

What I find interesting is that this poll may reflect reality this season. Kariya and Di Luigi will certainly lead the team in rushing for the first part of the season, just as they were leading the poll. However, Quezada may blow past them in the second half of the season as his reps increase with his better understanding of the offense.

Thank you to all who participated. The voter turnout was a record. Don't forget to vote in the new poll: "After expansion BYU will be ..."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games: #9-TCU, 2006

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com

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

Video Highlights:
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)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm

Monday, June 7, 2010

Top 10 BYU Football Games

To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com.

To help pass the quiet summer months, or to just take your mind off the conference expansion buzz. I am counting down the Top 10 games in BYU history. One game per day for the next two weeks. At the end of the game summary, I have included links to video highlights of the game. If you have additional insights to the game or links for highlights feel free to use the comments section to share.

BYU has won one national championship, 23 conference championships, and 505 games since 1922. In the process of achieving these milestones, the BYU Cougars have had many individual games that stand out. While each win is reflected equally in the wins column, we all can agree that certain wins are more significant and meaningful than the others.

In composing this top 10 list, I scored each game based on the following factors (point value in italics):

1. The caliber of the opponent. This includes national ranking, overall win-loss record, future NFL players, etc. 25 points
2. What was at stake? 20 points
3. What was the impact of the game? Maybe the game did not have much riding on it, but as a result of the game, accolades and honors came to BYU and its players, or it put BYU in a position to achieve something that would otherwise be improbable. 20 points
4. Was BYU the underdog or the favorite? Winning the games you are supposed to lose means more than winning the games you are supposed to win. 10 points
5. Was there a dramatic finish? If BYU was heavily favored to win a dramatic finish is not awarded points. 10 points
6. What were the other underlying storylines? (i.e. injuries, Bowl Alliance snub, revenge, record setting performances) 5 points
7. Nostalgia. As history passes what is truly great takes on a life of its own, so while “style points” are nice, “staying power” better dictates if a game is top 10 or not. 10 points

Without further ado, here is number 10.

10. BYU 21, Notre Dame 14 (October 15, 1994)
This game makes the list because, well, this was Notre Dame, and the game was in South Bend. This win, also, helped propel BYU into the coaches’ poll top 10 at year’s end, despite having three losses (BYU has never finished a three loss season ranked higher than 16, and many two and one loss seasons have not produced a top 10 ranking).

BYU had lost by a combined score of 87-36 in games against Notre Dame the last two years. This year BYU controlled the game. Jamal Willis starred as he led the team in rushing (75 yards) and receiving (83 yards) and scored both BYU touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving). His biggest highlight was when he leaped and reached to haul in a John Walsh pass with one hand. Photos after the game revealed that the ball landed outside Willis’ hand on his wrist making this catch even more spectacular.

The defense was led by Travis Hall and Randy Brock up front, and a young Shay Muirbrook at linebacker. They stuffed Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish leaned on the run game despite averaging only 2.5 yards per carry. BYU shutout Notre Dame in the second half. A Jon Pollock sack when Notre Dame was inside the 5-yard line forced a field goal that was blocked.

This was a classic case of BYU outplaying a football powerhouse, but the game remained close because of turnovers. BYU fumbled five times, losing three of them, and Walsh added an interception.

Score:

1. Caliber of Opponent: 15 points. Notre Dame was ranked number 17 at the time, but finished the year 6-5-1. Five Notre Dame players were selected in the 1995 NFL draft, and four more were selected in 1996.
2. What was at stake: 10 points. National respect.
3. What was the impact: 15 points. BYU was voted number 10 by the coaches at season’s end. This year marks the year Notre Dame was knocked off its pedestal. Notre Dame football has not been the same since, and BYU played a roll in this college football paradigm shift.
4. Underdog: 5 points. BYU was the underdog.
5. Dramatic win: 5 points. BYU scored the go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. I don’t remember it being a last minute score. I don’t remember when Pollock's sack erased the threat of a Notre Dame touchdown, but if they still attempted a field goal after that there was enough time that Notre Dame thought they could drive down and score a touchdown to win since it was a 7-point game.
6. Underlying Storylines: 2 points. The Notre Dame mystique: Knute Rockne, The Four Horsemen, the 11 national championships, 7 Heisman Trophies, The Golden Dome.
7. Nostalgia: 5 points. Although BYU beat Notre Dame in what ended as a down year, Notre Dame was still Notre Dame (the Fighting Irish were 11-1 and ranked #2 in 1993, and they rebounded to 9-3 in 1995). Plus, the game was in South Bend. However, this game has gotten lost in the shuffle during the intervening years (Wikipedia does not even mention this game on the BYU Cougars Football page). It happened during a year that is not considered one of BYU’s best, and the quarterback that day was not a legendary BYU QB (John Walsh).
8. Total: 57 points.

Video highlights: BYU vs. Notre Dame, 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)
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)

Sources:
http://www.drafthistory.com/
www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?type=school
www.shrpsports.com/cf/
http://www.cougarstats.com/
www.appollarchive.com/football/index.cfm