Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 24, Michigan Wolverines 17 (1984)

It was 27 years ago today that the Brigham Young Cougars and the Michigan Wolverines met in Holiday Bowl VII. BYU had played in all seven Holiday Bowl games, but none were quite like this one.

BYU would all but lock up the 1984 National Championship with a win. The Cougars were ranked number one in all the major polls. If the pressure to win wasn’t enough, BYU would have to overcome injury as well. Starting quarterback Robbie Bosco was playing with ankle and rib injuries, but they were nothing compared to the pain he felt in his knee nine minutes into the game when a late hit by a Michigan defensive lineman required team trainers to carry Bosco to the sideline. The record crowd of 61,243 watched in silence.

Backup quarterback Blaine Fowler came in and completed five of seven passes for 28 yards to keep the Cougar offense moving. The drive, however, eventually stalled.

Bosco was able to return to the game in the second quarter, but his mobility was severely limited. It forced BYU to do something it hadn’t done all year: use the shotgun. With Bosco back in the lineup, BYU got on the scoreboard when running back Kelly Smith took the ball in from five yards out. A 13-yard scramble by Bosco highlighted the drive.

Moments later, BYU was poised to take control of the game. The Michigan punter dropped the snap and BYU’s Ladd Akeo recovered at the Michigan 5-yard line. However, BYU turned the ball over when Bosco was trying to make a run for the end zone, and he fumbled the ball into the end zone where Michigan recovered.

Lee Johnson kicked a 31-yard field goal with seconds left in the first half to give BYU a 10-7 lead at the break. It looked like BYU would take that momentum and pull away in the second half. Instead, the third quarter became a comedy of errors. Turnovers and a blocked field goal kept BYU scoreless, and enabled Michigan to take a 14-10 lead.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Michigan extended the lead with a gift-wrapped field goal after a BYU fumble at its own 11-yard line. The BYU defense actually pushed Michigan back four yards on the drive. That would be the theme for the fourth quarter. For the final 15 minutes, Michigan had -3 yards of total offense.

Bosco and company answered the Michigan field goal with a touchdown to tie the game 17-17. Glen Kozlowski made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone with 10:51 to play to put BYU in a position to win.

The BYU defense stopped the Michigan offense twice with the highlight being a 16-yard sack by linebacker Kurt Gouveia. Michigan punted the ball back to BYU with 4:36 to play. BYU had to drive 83 yards for a touchdown.

The Cougars covered 70 of those yards in three minutes. On third down and four, Bosco dropped back to pass. Feeling pressure from the sides, he stepped up in the pocket and started to scramble on his bad knee. Then, he released a pass down the left sideline. The ball sailed into the end zone where Smith caught it for the game winning touchdown. Bosco raised his arms and limped off the field.

Marv Allen sealed the win with an interception as Michigan tried to score in the 1:23 that remained.

BYU had overcome six turnovers (three fumbles, three interceptions) to win its 24th consecutive game and an NCAA record thirteenth game of the season. Except for the turnovers and the final score, BYU dominated the game.

The Cougars had 32 first downs to 13 for the Wolverines. Total offense was a lopsided 483 to 202 in BYU’s favor. BYU doubled Michigan’s average yards per play, 6.4 to 3.2. Michigan punted seven times. BYU set a bowl record with one punt. BYU converted 55 percent of its third downs, while Michigan was successful a measly 29 percent of the time.

Lakei Heimuli led the team in rushing with 82 yards on 16 carries, and David Mills continued to be the team's leading receiver amassing 103 yards on 11 receptions. Bosco, however, had the most impressive stats of the night, notwithstanding three interceptions. He was 30 of 42 (71.4 percent) for 343 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Most importantly, BYU was a perfect 13-0. The first perfect season in school history, which was good enough for the school’s first national championship.

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