BYU/SDSU Rivalry Has Always Been One-Sided In Favor Of The Cougars

Nov 28, 2019, 8:00 AM | Updated: 8:36 am
Harvey Unga #45 of BYU Cougars gets tackled by Brandon Kohn #11 of San Diego State Aztecs at Qualco...
Harvey Unga #45 of BYU Cougars gets tackled by Brandon Kohn #11 of San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on October 17, 2009 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU-San Diego State series is a one-sided affair when it comes to being deemed a “rivalry.” San Diego State fans loathe BYU. The Aztecs never have had a true rival, so BYU is the one program that draws ire from the Aztecs.

BYU on the other hand always respected the Aztecs’ talent but never viewed them as a legitimate threat to them on the gridiron. The Marshall Faulk years being the exception, of course.

Despite the disparity in how the two fan bases view the series and the number of games BYU has won compared to the Aztecs (28-7-1 in favor of BYU), it’s produced some great moments over the years. Moments that no one on either of the current rosters would know anything about, but for fans that have been around for decades, they’ll have fond memories of these games.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane with some of the best moments in the BYU-San Diego State football series in anticipation of Saturday’s game in San Diego at 7 p.m. (MT).

2012 Poinsettia Bowl: BYU 23, San Diego State 6

In the program’s first meeting against one another after BYU left the Mountain West Conference for Independence, linebacker Kyle Van Noy made himself known to the football world. Down 6-3 entering the fourth quarter, Van Noy scored two touchdowns on his own to give BYU a 23-6 over Rocky Long’s Aztecs and James Lark a bowl win to his resume as starting quarterback.

2010: BYU 24, San Diego State 21

This game will forever be entrenched in controversy and more proof that BYU was better off leaving the Mountain West Conference.

BYU who was 1-4 on the season and one week removed from the firing of defensive coordinator Jaime Hill, was leading SDSU, coached by Brady Hoke, 17-14 late in the third quarter.

BYU running back J.J. DiLuigi fumbled the football but officials on the field immediately ruled on the field that DiLuigi’s knee was down. The play went to instant replay and the call on the field stood.

In the instant replay booth were three men including BYU video coordinator Chad Bunn. The Mountain West Conference suspended the three individuals and tried to drag Bunn’s good name through the mud in the process.

BYU’s win had San Diego up in arms and led to members of the SDSU broadcast team calling BYU hypocrites and the most ill-behaved team in the country. It was a moment that had BYU fans ready to put the MWC in the rearview mirror forever.

2007: BYU 48, San Diego State 27

This Saturday’s game will be the first time since 2007 that BYU and SDSU close out the regular season against one another. In 2007, this game was rescheduled due to fires in the area during the October weekend when the game was originally scheduled. Having the game pushed back to December 1st led to some frustrations from BYU with the Mountain West Conference.

Heading into the final weekend against SDSU, BYU was 9-2 and ranked No. 19 in the BCS poll. Nearly everyone in college football in 2007 had two losses so there was a remote possibility that BYU could still qualify for an at-large bid to a Bowl Championship Series game. In hopes of capturing a bigger national audience, BYU approached the MWC about simulcasting The mtn. broadcast on BYUtv. The MWC said no.

That moment had an impact on BYU eventually making the decision to become an FBS Independent three years later.

2005: San Diego State 31, BYU 10

The Bronco Mendenhall era got off to a rocky start in year one and the rockiest moment came in a blowout loss against SDSU.

If Twitter was around back in 2005, the meltdown from BYU fans after this game would have been nuts. I remember the KSL postgame show after this game when they were still taking phone calls from fans. BYU supporters were ready to pull the plug on Mendenhall after this loss if they had their way.

Good thing BYU brass wasn’t listening to the fans as one week later Mendenhall’s team scored a huge win at New Mexico that helped kickstart the revival of Cougar football after three straight losing seasons.

1998: BYU 13, San Diego State 0

Here’s a weird thought, this game had the lead in the WAC Pacific Division at stake. Young people reading this are probably thinking, OK Boomer. But really, go Google it. These two were in a division called the Pacific in a conference that featured 16-teams. It was a weird and wild time.

While you’re googling the WAC Pacific Division, go look up BYU cornerback Brian Gray’s pick-six against the Aztecs. Gray’s pick-six was the only touchdown scored in this wet and rainy game that featured Jim McMahon being honored at halftime for his College Football Hall of Fame induction, his first trip back to Provo he graduated in 1981.

1992: San Diego State 45, BYU 38

This is the game that put Thursday night football into the mainstream and on television. ESPN put BYU and San Diego State on a national window early in the season and Marshall Faulk ran wild on the Cougars to the tune of 315 yards. Arguably the greatest individual performance by an opponent in Provo.

BYU quarterback John Walson threw for 380 yards in only his second career start as the Cougars starting quarterback.

1991: BYU 52, San Diego State 52

It’s rare you leave a game that ends in a tie and it feels like a win for one of the teams. That was the case in 1991 when BYU came back from a 45-17 deficit to tie the Aztecs, giving the Cougars another WAC championship.

“Aside from being stunned, I don’t know what else to say. It was one of the greatest comebacks I’ve seen. I didn’t have any idea that the tie would put us in the Holiday Bowl. Keith Lever made some pressure kicks out there in the second half. I’m speechless,” said LaVell Edwards.

Both teams had iconic offensive personnel. BYU featured Ty Detmer and Jamal Willis. The Aztecs had Marshall Faulk, David Lowery at quarterback, and Darnay Scott at wide receiver. BYU racked up 767 yards and Detmer himself threw for 599.

1979: BYU 63, San Diego State 14

Forty years ago, No. 10 BYU traveled to Montezuma Mesa to take on SDSU with a WAC championship at stake in front of a network audience on ABC. It was only the 10th nationally televised regular-season game in BYU’s history to that point.

BYU jumped on the Aztecs early getting out to a 28-0 lead and the Cougars never looked back from there as quarterback Marc Wilson and running back Eric Lane was too much for SDSU. With the win, BYU capped off an undefeated regular season at 11-0 before falling to Indiana in the Holiday Bowl the following month.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU/SDSU Rivalry Has Always Been One-Sided In Favor Of The Cougars