Flashback: Nationally ranked Wyoming just a bump in the road on the Heisman Highway

Since Ty Detmer is no longer the offensive coordinator for the BYU Cougars, it seemed appropriate to look back at better times for him and BYU in this week's flashback.

In 1990, the BYU Cougars were ranked number eight when they traveled to Laramie to take on the Wyoming Cowboys. The Cowboys were also nationally ranked at number 25 with a 9-1 record. Besides having common conference foes, BYU and Wyoming had both played Washington State that season. BYU needed a furious second half comeback to win that game, while Wyoming beat the Apple Cougars with ease, 34-13.

Wyoming also boasted an undefeated home record in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) games under head coach Paul Roach, who was in his fourth season. A sellout crowd, the first in school history, was on hand to see if the Cowboys could disrupt Ty Detmer's Heisman campaign by maintaining that perfect home mark.

The Cougars got the ball first and methodically moved the ball down the field. Detmer completed a 22-yard pass to Micah Matsuzaki, but the rest of the drive was a mix of short runs and passes. As the Cougars threatened to score, Wyoming was able to get back-to-back sacks to force a 44-yard field goal.

Earl Kaufman's kick into the wind made it 3-0 for BYU with 11:10 left in the first quarter.

The Cougar defense forced Wyoming into a 3rd and 6. Wyoming completed a pass near the first down marker, but the Cougar defenders brought him down inches short of the line. Wyoming punted.

The Cougar offense was back in business as Mike Salido and Detmer had back-to-back first down runs. A loss of five on a swing pass the next play put BYU in a hole, and Detmer's completion to Salido on 3rd and 15 came up five yards short.

Wyoming's second drive was a lot like its first: three plays and punt.

The Cougar passing attack still wasn't shredding the Cowboy defense. Detmer completed three passes on the ensuing drive, but the longest was for eight yards. Nevertheless, BYU was able to move down to the Wyoming 30-yard line. On 2nd and 3, Detmer handed off to Peter Tuipulotu. He found a big hole and ran straight up field, untouched, all the way to the end zone. That pushed the lead to 10-0.

Wyoming, finally, picked up a first down with a 12-yard pass completion on the first play of drive number three, but this drive would be shorter than the first two. On the next play, the Cowboy receiver tipped the ball and Derwin Gray was there to intercept it. He returned the ball 30 yards to the Wyoming 33-yard line.

Detmer found tight end Chris Smith in the end zone for a touchdown on the next play, but it was called back by a holding penalty. Two plays later, Detmer hit back up tight end Matt Zundel for 23 yards and a first down. A pass interference penalty on Wyoming moved the ball to the 10-yard line.

Just as on the game opening drive, Wyoming was able to push BYU backwards two plays in a row. That set up 3rd and Goal from the 13-yard line. Detmer was able to find Salido out of the backfield for a touchdown with four seconds left in the first quarter. That extended the lead to 17-0.

Wyoming completed a 19-yard pass on the final play of the first quarter. However, the first three plays of the third quarter were incompletions. The last one was nearly intercepted by Tony Crutchfield.

After back-to-back runs by Salido, Detmer completed a 19-yard pass to Andy Boyce. Then, Detmer got greedy and threw deep, into coverage, and Wyoming intercepted the ball.

Wyoming wasn't able to do anything with the ball: run for no gain on first down, incomplete pass on second down, and sack on third down.

Following the Cowboys punt, BYU was 57-yards away from the end zone. It only took three plays to get there. After a three-yard run on first down, a 28-yard pass to Smith was followed by a 26-yard touchdown to Boyce.

With 10:25 to play in the second quarter, BYU had a commanding 24-0 lead, but Wyoming wasn't going to go away that easy.

Wyoming completed a 51-yard pass on the first play of the drive. On 4th and 2, the Cowboys threw deep to the end zone and drew a pass interference penalty. The Wyoming quarterback then scrambled into the end zone from six yards out. Rather than kick the extra point, Wyoming went for two and got it.

In less than 90 seconds, Wyoming closed the gap to 24-8.

Following the Cowboys touchdown, Detmer completed passes of 15 and 16 yards to Boyce. Two plays later, the Wyoming pass rush got to Detmer again, and he was sacked for a loss of nine. On the following play, he threw his second interception of the game.

Wyoming returned the interception 37 yards to the BYU 23-yard line. It took one play, a tight end reverse, to get into the end zone. The Cowboys went for the two points again, but they were not successful this time. That left the score at 24-14 with 6:13 to play in the half.

Detmer was sacked again to start the next drive. He then completed back-to-back passes to Boyce, again, but the second one was negated by a false start penalty. That made it 3rd and 10. To move the chains, Matsuzaki hauled in a Detmer pass for 27 yards. Salido then broke off a 41-yard run to the Wyoming four-yard line. Two plays later, Stacey Corley leaped into the end zone.

BYU nose tackle Mark Smith book ended Wyoming's next drive with big plays. He penetrated the backfield for a one-yard tackle-for-loss on first down. Four plays later on 3rd and 10, Smith got into the backfield again. This time he got a sack, and forced a punt.

There was enough time in the half for Detmer to move BYU into field goal range, but the kick was missed. That left the score 31-14 at the half.

Detmer completed 24 of 35 passes in the first half for 298 yards. He set two NCAA records during the first half: most games with 200 yards passing (23), and most yards passing in two years.

Wyoming had no success moving the ball on its first drive of the second half. On 3rd and 2, Eddie Green dropped the Cowboys ball carrier for an eight-yard loss.

BYU, meanwhile, had no problem moving the ball. The Cougars picked up two quick first downs. They overcame a fumbled snap and holding penalty on back-to-back plays and picked up a third first down. Detmer's found a receiver in the flat who was so wide open he could have easily scored a touchdown, but he dropped the ball.

Wyoming caught a break with the dropped pass. The Cowboys escaped the scoring threat when Detmer fumbled while being sacked on the next play. They weren't able to capitalize on it. Six plays later, the Cowboys were punting.

Highlighted by receptions of 21 and 14 yards by Smith, BYU was on the move again. Then penalties got in the way. A phantom false start penalty got the BYU coaches irate. That led to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the coaches. It was now 1st and 30. A 10-yard run by Corley, an 11-yard pass to Smith, and a 10-yard run by Detmer would have given BYU a first down. However, the Cougars were flagged for holding on Detmer's run. BYU picked up only 11 yards on 3rd and 19, and Kauffman missed the field goal with 3:42 to play in the third quarter.

Shad Hansen and Alema Fitisemanu registered sacks for BYU on Wyoming's next possession to force a punt. Wyoming's punter never got the kick off. Several BYU players got through the line. Fearing the kick would be blocked, he took off running. He tried throwing the ball to another player as he was falling to the turf, but that was unsuccessful.

BYU took over at the Wyoming 27-yard line. Two plays later, Tuipulotu ran the ball in from 16-yards out. After scoring 31 points in the first half, BYU got its first points of the second half with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Cougar defense continued to dominate the Cowboys forcing punts on the next two possessions. A holding penalty stifled the Cougars on their possession in between.

At this point, BYU was just trying to finish the game. When the Cougars found themselves in a 3rd and 18 situation, however, Detmer needed to throw downfield to get keep the drive going. He found Brent Nyberg downfield, deep downfield--62 yards to be exact. That set up Tuipulotu's third touchdown of the game from one yard out.

With 7:40 to play, it was 45-14. Detmer hit the bench.

His final numbers were: 35 of 50 (70%) for 484 yards and 2 touchdowns with 2 interceptions. During the third quarter, Detmer broke Jim McMahon's school record for most passing yards in a career. He moved up from 12 to five on the NCAA list for most yards passing in a career.

Smith finished with eight receptions for 111 yards. Nyberg also topped the century mark with 104 yards on five grabs.

As a team, BYU finished with 679 yards total offense. The Cougars dominated time of possession holding the ball for 40:20. The opposite side of the ball was equally impressive. Wyoming totaled just 189 yards of offense (16 rushing, 173 passing). BYU registered six sacks, and allowed Wyoming to convert just one of 13 third downs.

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