Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 31, Oklahoma Sooners 6 (1994)

Tomorrow, December 29, marks 17 years since the Brigham Young Cougars faced the Oklahoma Sooners in the Copper Bowl. In the first ever meeting between the two schools, BYU schooled Oklahoma in the forward pass.

The Sooners were without their starting quarterback, but their stingy 12th ranked defense was expected to keep the game close. Oklahoma was allowing less than 300 yards of total offense per game, and no team passed for more than 191 yards all year against the Sooners.

The Cougar D made the first statement of the game forcing a three-and-out on the first series of the game. Oklahoma punted, and BYU took over at its own 23-yard line.

The BYU offense set the tone with the very first play. After faking a reverse, John Walsh scrambled left and hit Jamal Willis for a 43-yard gain. The offense converted two third downs to move the ball to the 11-yard line. The drive finished with a Walsh to Bryce Doman 7-yard touchdown pass. Walsh completed four of five passes for 68 yards on the drive.

The BYU defense was steady and strong all game long. The defense didn’t make many big plays, but it didn’t give up any big plays, either. A 13-yard John Raass sack in the second quarter was the biggest play by the starters.

Early in the second quarter, BYU added a field goal to take a 10-0 lead. The Cougar D followed that score with another three-and-out. That led to BYU’s most impressive scoring drive.

The Oklahoma punt drove BYU back to the 11-yard line. BYU couldn’t move the ball on first or second down, but on third down Walsh found Willis for 38 yards. A loss of six yards on two run plays set up a 3rd and 16. Walsh hit Hema Heimuli, who bounced off a hit from a defender, and continued down field for a total gain of 32-yards. Walsh finished the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Johnston. Johnston made a diving catch, but managed to get one foot in bounds. BYU now led 17-0, and had scored four more points against Oklahoma than 1994 National Champion Nebraska did.

Walsh was three of five passing on the drive for 95 yards. With 8:18 to play in the second quarter, Walsh had 281 yards passing. Although the television announcers kept calling Walsh an immobile quarterback, he was continually moving well in the pocket and eluding Oklahoma defenders to make a play down field.

With a commanding 17-0 lead and complete control of the game, BYU slowed down in the second half. BYU didn’t score again until there was 3:55 was left in the third quarter. The score came on another touchdown pass to Johnston.

Trailing now by 24, the Sooners put together a ball control and time consuming drive. Their 80-yard drive took 9:47 of game time. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 24-6.

BYU answered that touchdown with Walsh’s fourth touchdown pass of the night, and second touchdown for Doman. The touchdown pass was Walsh’s 31st completion of the game, which broke the Copper Bowl record for most completions in a game previously held by Drew Bledsoe.

With nothing but reserves in on defense now, the Sooners were mounting just their second sustained drive of the game. As they got into scoring territory, the Oklahoma quarterback took a shot deep for the goal line. Linebacker Scott Albrecht made a great, leaping interception at the 8-yard line to keep the Sooners in single digits for the game. He returned the ball to the BYU 26-yard line.

Steve Clements came in a quarterback for the final 2:11. Amidst several good runs by the back up running backs, Clements completed a 31-yard pass to Chad Knowles. BYU had moved the ball to the Oklahoma 12-yard line when time expired.

As the 31-6 final score indicates, BYU totally dominated this game. BYU finished with 556 yards of total offense, including 485 yards passing. Oklahoma had just 72 yards rushing and 235 yards total offense.

Game MVP John Walsh looked every bit ready for an early jump to the NFL with his 31 of 45 passing night for 454 yards and four touchdowns. His 183.0 pass efficiency rating is still the highest rating for any BYU quarterback in a bowl game. The four touchdown passes tied Jim McMahon for most touchdown passes by a BYU quarterback in a bowl game.

In his final game for BYU, running back Jamal Willis was BYU's leading receiver with 7 receptions for 103 yards. He took home the game's Offensive Player of the Game honors.

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