Top 100 Games in 100 Years of BYU Football: 80-71 (2024)

BYU celebrates their 100th football season in 2024. The Cougars are one of the most historic football programs in college football, certainly among programs out west.

With that pile of history, let’s dive into the top 100 games of the BYU football program. The “top” games could mean many things — championship games, bowl games, key wins over rivals, record-setting individual performances, overtime thrillers, and much more.

These games are not ranked chronologically.

Let’s take a look at games 80 through 71.

You can see other previous lists below

  • 100-91
  • 90-81

80. North Texas, 1971 (41-13)

Normally, a blowout win in the 70s against North Texas wouldn’t make this list. That is, until you dive into what Golden Richards did. He returned punts for a total of 219 yards for two touchdowns, both BYU records. No one in NCAA history has returned three punts for a score in a game.

Golden Richards became a legend, returning four punts for scores in that season. He eventually became part of the 70s Dallas Cowboys and won a Super Bowl in 1977.

79. San Jose State, 1998 (46-13)

The Ronney Jenkins Game. That’s all I could put here and some of you would immediately know which game I’m talking about. Jenkins carved out an impressive college and NFL career as a return specialist. He even led the NFL in kick return yardage and kick return touchdowns in 2001 with the San Diego Chargers.

In this game, he began to form his legend. However, on this day, it was as an all-purpose running back and receiver, not a returner. He ran the ball 31 times for 250 yards and four rushing scores. In the passing game, he caught three balls for 25 yards and another touchdown. Overall, Jenkins racked up five touchdowns from scrimmage to help BYU eke out a shootout victory over San Jose State.

78. Utah State, 1980 (70-46)

Fans of defense look away. To paint the picture properly, the score was 43-21 BYU at halftime. The Cougars built out the lead to 64-24 before Utah State got some garbage time points at the end. This game is about Jim McMahon. McMahon set 32 NCAA records during his BYU career. This was one of those statement games for his stat sheet. Not only did he throw for six touchdowns and 485 yards, but he also ran for two scores. Yes, McMahon was responsible for eight touchdowns, helping BYU get to 70 points against the Aggies. No BYU QB has ever totaled more scores in one game.

77. Kansas State, 1972 (32-9)

LaVell Edwards is one of the most legendary and heralded coaches to ever grace the college game, or frankly any level of football. He is rightfully in the College Football Hall of Fame. He took over BYU football in 1972 and played Big 8 opponent Kansas State in his first ever game. His Cougar players greeted the LaVell Edwards era with a resounding victory over a Big 8 school, 32-9. That would be a sign of things to come for BYU and Edwards.

76. Colorado State, 1999 (34-13)

1999 was a marquee year in BYU football history. For the first time since 1961, they were playing in a different conference. They opened Mountain West Conference play on September 16, 1999, against the Rams. CSU came in ranked No. 23 having just beaten top-15 ranked Colorado and Nevada ahead of the matchup with BYU. BYU hosted the Rams and were rude hosts, smacking them 34-13. Luke Staley had something of a coming-out party, with two rushing touchdowns and another receiving.

75. UTEP, 1980 (83-7)

You read that right. BYU won 83-7, setting the program record for points scored in a game that still stands today. The BYU quarterback factory was humming at full production with McMahon at the helm. He and LaVell Edwards were about as perfect of a head coach/quarterback pair as there ever was in college football history. It was 42-7 at halftime. McMahon threw for 451 yards and six touchdowns. BYU also had three interceptions on defense, including one from current Athletic Director Tom Holmoe.

74. Utah State, 2001 (54-34)

We go from Staley’s coming-out party a few paragraphs ago to his Doak Walker Award-winning season. BYU was a well-oiled machine on offense in 2001. Brandon Doman, Luke Staley, Reno Mahe and company could not be stopped. Doman threw four touchdown passes against the Aggies, to four different pass-catchers. One of them was running back Luke Staley, who also added a whopping four rushing touchdowns on 207 yards. From scrimmage, Staley totaled 251 total yards and five touchdowns, one of the most productive games in BYU history.

73. New Mexico, 1983 (66-21)

A theme in this edition of the rankings is the explosive offenses BYU put together under LaVell. This game featured two all-time great QBs for BYU. Steve Young threw four touchdowns for 340 yards and Robbie Boscoe took over in garbage time and threw for another 128 yards and a score. Overall, BYU set a school record with 777 yards of offense. 507 via the pass and they added 270 on the ground in a thorough thumping of the Lobos.

72. Hawaii, 1981 (13-3)

BYU and Hawaii have had some epic showdowns in the past. BYU traveled to Honolulu as an unranked 8-2 team to take on Hawaii, who was 7-0 and ranked No. 19. Jim McMahon brought a vaunted offense for BYU, but the game turned into a defensive slugfest. McMahon ended up passing for 269 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. BYU’s defense, after being much maligned most of the season, held off a high-flying Rainbow Warriors attack. They needed this key win to springboard themselves to another WAC championship.

71. Boise State, 2020 (51-17)

2020 was certainly a strange time for everyone. BYU was struggling to find quality opponents to fill out their independent schedule. Boise State has always been a loyal scheduling partner and the two met on the Boise Blue turf as ranked opponents. Yes, Boise was down their starting quarterback. They got no sympathy from BYU fans, who watched third-stringer Baylor Romney beat Boise State the year before. In this game, Boise State got neither sympathy nor mercy. It was almost as if BYU was taking out years of frustration against Boise State on the “smurf turf” in a single game. Zach Wilson tore them apart for 360 yards and three touchdowns through the air and a rushing score to boot. The defense didn’t let up either, with three sacks and an interception. It was BYU’s first win against Boise State in Boise.

Top 100 Games in 100 Years of BYU Football: 80-71 (2024)
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