Flashback: Playing the Role of the Spoiler

The 2012 Brigham Young Cougars hope to spoil Washington State head coach Mike Leach’s return to college football. They would also like to spoil Boise State’s season with its first September loss since 2007. Playing the role of the spoiler was pretty common for the BYU football team 30 years ago.

The 1982 season started with a road trip to Las Vegas to play the UNLV Running Rebels. Every team wants to start the season with a win, as well as win their first home game, but this game had even more meaning that that to the Rebels. This was their inaugural season as a member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA), and what better way to send a statement to their PCAA brethren than to knock off BYU in the season opener.

BYU humiliated UNLV with a 27-0 shutout. The PCAA schools were watching and took good notes. UNLV was just 1-4 in league games that season and finished 3-8 overall for the first losing season in school history. It all started with BYU.

On October 9, BYU took another trip down south. In Albuquerque, the New Mexico Lobos were sporting a perfect 4-0 record. They were confident they could pull off their second win against BYU in three seasons. The Cougars thought otherwise. When the smoke had settled, BYU had spoiled New Mexico’s season with a convincing 40-12 victory. It would be the lone blemish on the Lobos’ record, but, even at 10-1, New Mexico stayed home for the holidays, while BYU represented the WAC in the Holiday Bowl.

In the final home game of the season, BYU played the role of the spoiler again. Doug Scovil was making his return to Provo. Scovil was the mastermind behind the BYU offense from 1976-77 and 1979-80. While he was on the Cougar staff, he turned the BYU passing attack into a lethal beast. He was hired away by San Diego State in 1981 to be the head coach.

The 1982 conference tilt between the Cougars and the Aztecs was Scovilesque. The final score was 58-8 in BYU’s favor. If that wasn’t enough to spoil the day for Scovil, the Cougars piled up those 58 points using a quarterback that Scovil rejected and buried on the depth chart in 1980. Steve Young passed for 284 yards and rushed for 94 yards while accounting for four touchdowns.

In the regular season finale, BYU played the spoiler one last time. Utah was 5-5 on the season and needed a win to avoid its first losing season since 1977. It was also a big day for Utah running back Carl Nibrie as he set a new WAC record for most rushing yards in a season. However, BYU came out on top winning the game 17-12 giving Utah a 5-6 mark on the year, and Young upstaged Nibrie with two NCAA records.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com


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