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Monday, September 10, 2012

Remembering the Rivalry: Marc Wilson's NCAA Record Incites Utah

Editor's Note: To prepare for the BYU-Utah rivalry game, each day this week BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL will take a look back at one of the Cougars' great wins against Utah. 

The 1977 tilt between the Brigham Young Cougars and Utah Utes was a classic for Cougar fans. BYU entered the game on a roll with a 6-1 record and winners of the last three games by an average score of 35.7 to 12.7. The three game win streak coincided with quarterback Marc Wilson's first start in place of the injured Gifford Nielsen.

Utah wasn't having a good season. The Utes were just 2-5 and heavy underdogs.

It was no surprise that BYU jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead. A Dev Duke field goal started the scoring, and Wilson threw two touchdown passes. The first went 11 yards to Todd Christensen, and the second was 72 yards to Mike Chronister. That long TD grab helped Chronister finish the game with 176 yards on just four receptions.

The Cougar offense stalled in the second and third quarters, which allowed Utah to climb back into the game with a safety in the second quarter and touchdown run in the third. The single digit lead going into the fourth quarter (17-8) made this anyone's game.

Once the fourth quarter started, Wilson quickly put an end to any ideas of a Utah upset. He threw two more touchdown passes (14 yards to John VanDerWouden; 27 yards to Tod Thompson). Feeling comfortable with the 31-8 lead, the coaches sent Wilson to the bench.

It had been a great day passing for Wilson. He had set a new BYU single-game record with 555 yards passing.

More importantly, BYU was on its way to winning its sixth straight game against Utah. Before LaVell Edwards took over in 1972, BYU had beat Utah five times total.

But, wait a minute.

With nothing better to do as time wound down in this blowout, someone on the BYU staff discovered Wilson was just six yards shy of the NCAA record for most passing yards in a game. Wilson went back out onto the field and threw an eight-yard pass to break the record. He rubbed it in with one more eight-yard pass, for a touchdown.

This final touchdown pass gave Wilson 571 yards, gave BYU a 38-8 victory, and gave Utah coach Wayne Howard an excuse to add vitriol to the rivalry. Following the game Howard said, "This today will be inspiring. The hatred between BYU and Utah is nothing compared to what it will be. It will be a crusade to beat BYU from now on."

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

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