BYU football: Ranked teams the Cougars beat that ended their season outside the AP top 25 (12 items)
After beating undefeated Houston in thrilling fashion, the BYU football team is building a campaign to be a top 25 team. It started with a dominant win over Texas, which was ranked 15th by the Associated Press the night of Sept. 7. The problem: the Longhorns contest may not prove to be the Cougars’ signature win, let alone a high-profile one.
It may continue a trend where BYU has beaten a nationally ranked team that wound up worse than expected — even outside the polls.
Texas is now just 4-2, and if it follows a pattern seen in each of its past three seasons, it may be mediocre when all is said and done. Since reaching the 2010 national championship, the Longhorns went 5-7 and 8-5 in 2010 and 2011 before finishing 9-4 and 19th in the final Associated Press poll last season.
Texas’ 16-point win over nationally ranked Oklahoma on Oct. 12 may have cooled head coach Mack Brown’s seat. Still, only a three-game winning streak has kept the Longhorn program from embarrassment after starting 1-2. Following its 40-21 loss at BYU, Texas lost by three touchdowns at home against an average Ole Miss club.
The Cougars’ beatdown of the Longhorns isn’t the only time a BYU team has defeated a nationally ranked club, only for that opponent to be much weaker than expected — even outside the final Associated Press poll. The trend is found during the LaVell Edwards era. Under Edwards, BYU went 21-21-1 against ranked teams, but nine of the victories came against teams not found in final rankings. Those 10 teams had a combined record of just 76-63-3.
Such wins have also happened twice under Bronco Mendenhall — but it’s not like many examples avail themselves since his teams are just 4-13 against top 25 competition. There is no example possible with Gary Crowton-coached teams. They went 0-6 against nationally ranked clubs in four seasons.
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and hails the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. firstname.lastname@example.org | @wilklogan
1 of 12. BYU 18, No. 14 Texas A&M 17
Rice Stadium, Houston
Texas A&M finished 6-5 (4-4 Southwest Conference).
BYU finished 11-1 (7-0 Western Athletic Conference) and 13th in the final AP poll.
BYU had never defeated a ranked non-conference opponent before Sept. 8, 1979. That all changed with the Cougars’ season-opener against the Texas A&M Aggies. Despite being only days removed from an appendectomy, Marc Wilson led the Cougars in a last-minute, come-from-behind victory. A go-ahead two-point conversion sparked the first undefeated regular season in school history.
The Aggies never recovered from BYU’s milestone win. Led by quarterback Mike Mosley, Texas A&M started 2-4. The Aggies won four of their final five games, beating sixth-ranked Texas in their final contest to salvage a winning season. They never returned to the national rankings after losing to the Cougars, assuring that with a 17-7 loss to Baylor in their second game and narrow losses to Texas Tech and seventh-ranked Houston in their fifth and sixth contests.
2 of 12. No. 14 BYU 38, No. 20 Washington State 36
Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego
Washington State finished 8-3-1 (5-2-1 Pacific-10 Conference).
BYU finished 11-2 (7-1 WAC) and 13th in the final AP poll.
The Cougars almost blew a 31-7 lead as Washington State scored 21 straight points in the third quarter on drives of 69, 50 and 39 yards to narrow the score to 31-28. BYU’s Jim McMahon passed for 342 yards.
WSU relied on the strength of its running game. Quarterback Clete Casper threw six interceptions and just one touchdown for the season, but running back Tim Harris gained 915 yards on just 157 carries. The Pac-10’s Cougars started 6-0-1 before losing three of their last five games, including their last two. That included a 41-17 stomping at fourth-ranked USC and a 23-10 decision at 17th-ranked Washington.
3 of 12. BYU 20, No. 3 Pittsburgh 14
Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh
Independent Pittsburgh finished 3-7-1.
BYU finished 13-0 and first in the final AP poll, consequently claiming the national title.
Talk about role reversals.
In getting stunned, Pittsburgh kicked off its first losing season since 1972. The Panthers had national championship hopes, but it was instead the Cougars who began their first and only national championship season. Robbie Bosco passed for 325 yards while Pitt signal-caller John Congemi was held to 171 passing yards for an 85.51 passer rating.
Major Panther letdown: Pitt started 0-4 before breaking through with a narrow win over lowly East Carolina, which went just 2-9 that season. In fact, it lost seven of its first eight games with one tie before finishing the season with two victories.
4 of 12. No. 16 BYU 31, Washington 3
Cougar Stadium, Provo
Washington started the season No. 12 one week before playing BYU. It finished 7-5 (5-3 Pac-10).
BYU finished 11-3 and 16th in the final AP poll.
The Cougars’ four-touchdown victory over the Huskies was its largest in four wins over Washington.
The Huskies lost by 14-plus points in their first two games, both against ranked opponents, before reeling off four straight wins. But they lost three of their next five games, four of which were in Seattle, all against unranked teams. Washington accepted an invitation to the Freedom Bowl, where it beat Colorado 20-17.
5 of 12. BYU 47, No. 19 Texas 6
Cougar Stadium, Provo
Texas finished 4-7 (2-5 SWC).
BYU finished 9-4 (5-3 WAC).
Playing in their second ESPN Thursday night affair in as many weeks, the Cougars opened at home in style against the Longhorns. The first play was an 80-yard TD toss from Sean Covey to Bryce Doman. Texas was forced to play without suspended starting running back Eric Metcalf.
The Longhorns rebounded with three straight victories but then dropped contests against Oklahoma and Arkansas, both of whom were ranked in the top 10. That started a season-ending seven-game stretch in which Texas lost six contests. One was a 66-15 blowout to Houston.