Ten BYU Football Games From Kalani Sitake Era Worth Rewatching

May 15, 2020, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:10 am

Kalani Sitake - BYU Football...

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake celebrates a defensive cougar stand during the Wisconsin versus BYU football game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

(Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Recently, I found myself watching a Korean Baseball game at 12:30 in the morning. A couple of months ago, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have been writing that sentence. These unprecedented times have led sports fans to turn to anything with sports, including old games.

So it got me thinking, what are some of the best BYU football games from the Kalani Sitake era (2016-2019)?

Despite the pedestrian 27-25 record through four seasons, Sitake’s BYU teams have delivered some big wins during his time as the head coach.

If you’re looking to get a BYU football fix, these are the 10 games worth rewatching that have taken place in the Kalani Sitake era.

10. 2018: BYU 49, Western Michigan 18

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl was one of the best offensive performances under Kalani Sitake. One day before the game Sitake hoped for “perfect” play from quarterback Zach Wilson. Wilson delivered going a perfect 18-for-18 against the Broncos.

The scoring broke open for BYU in the second half after they entered halftime down 10-7. BYU scored 42 unanswered highlighted by a 70-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Hifo in the third quarter.

After the game, senior wide receiver Dylan Collie told the assembled media that Wilson had the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the history of BYU football.

9. 2019: BYU 42, Utah State 14

Having lost their previous two meetings against the Aggies, BYU traveled to Logan as an underdog looking to avoid a third consecutive loss to Utah State. Led by quarterbacks Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney, BYU rolled through the Jordan Love-led Aggies. Hall handled the first half before leaving the game moments before halftime due to a concussion.

Baylor Romney stepped in and the BYU offense didn’t lose a beat. Romney helped lead BYU to three scoring drives in the second half, including a 99-yard drive to put an exclamation point on the victory.

8. 2018: BYU 28, Arizona 23

In a game of debuts, BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes had more to celebrate than Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin. BYU as a two-touchdown underdog pulled off the upset over an Arizona team that featured Heisman Trophy hopeful Khalil Tate who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated two weeks prior.

BYU put together a balanced attack that had a little bit of smashmouth football to go with an efficient passing game. The Cougars were up 28-10 in the fourth quarter before holding on at the end for a big five-point victory.

7. 2019: BYU 28, Boise State 25

Having lost their previous three matchups against Boise State, the 2019 contest didn’t appear on paper to be the one where BYU would pull off a victory. But they shocked everyone ending the Broncos undefeated pursuit of a New Year’s Six bowl berth.

BYU entered the game on a three-game losing streak and broke in a new starting quarterback in Baylor Romney. Assignment changes took place on the staff with Grimes moving from the booth to the field and Kalani Sitake calling the defense. It worked as Sitake earned his first rivalry win since 2016.

6. 2016: BYU 28, Mississippi State 21 (2OT)

Back-to-back weeks with wins over Power 5 programs and this one produced a wild finish. Jamaal Williams became BYU’s all-time leading rusher in this game and the Cougar defense came up with a huge stop on 4th down in double overtime to give BYU their first win over Mississippi State since 2001.

This is also the game that former Cougar Sports Saturday host Dave Noriega saw his life flash before his eyes.

5. 2016: BYU 31, Michigan State 14

In the pre-season, Michigan State appeared to be an unwinnable game for BYU. The Spartans were coming off a season where they were in the College Football Playoff and one of the Big Ten’s best programs. Mark D’Antonio had Sparty rolling, but then they started to falter off in 2016, and BYU pounced on the chance to take down a wounded Spartans squad.

Led by Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams, BYU scored 21 unanswered in the fourth quarter to win in their first visit to East Lansing.

4. 2018: BYU 24, Wisconsin 21

As a three-touchdown underdog, no one was giving BYU much of a chance against the No. 6 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. In the previous year, BYU lost to the Badgers in Provo by a score of 40-6.

Wisconsin had not lost a home game against a non-conference opponent in 15 years, but that long streak came to a surprising end. Despite only 120 yards passing, BYU sprung one of the biggest upsets in the 2018 college football season.

Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone had a chance to send the game into overtime but he missed it. Giving BYU, to that point, one of their best wins in three decades.

3. 2019: BYU 30, USC 27 (OT)

USC entered Provo with a national ranking next to their name after a pair of dominant victories in the first two weeks of the season. BYU had never defeated USC in its history but was a sneaky underdog pick against the Trojans.

USC turned to their Air Raid offense and BYU’s dropping eight back into coverage worked as the Trojans settled for running the football instead of going to their talented receivers.

BYU sealed the victory in overtime with a Dayan Ghanwoloku interception and pandemonium ensued on the field with Cougar fans celebrating the big win.

2. 2019: BYU 29, Tennessee 26 (2OT)

Trips to SEC Country are always memorable but BYU’s trip Knoxville, Tennessee, is an all-timer. In front of one of the biggest crowds to ever witness a BYU football game, the Cougars defied the odds defeating Tennessee.

Down 16-13 with 23 seconds remaining, BYU had a 0.01 percent chance of winning the game according to ESPN’s Win Probability. The unthinkable happened. Zach Wilson found a wide-open Micah Simon down the field to set up a Jake Oldroyd field goal to send the game into overtime.

Then it was the Ty’Son Williams show in the two overtimes. In the second overtime, with help from his BYU teammates, Williams moved the pile into the end zone for the win.

Tennessee at that moment was 0-2 and reeling. The Vols ended up with an 8-5 record to close the season.

1. 2016: BYU 55, Toledo 53

You might be surprised by this selection, but you shouldn’t. In terms of sheer entertainment value, BYU’s 2016 win over Toledo was jam-packed with excitement. Now if you’re reading this thinking I’m talking about last year’s Toledo game, no, that game wouldn’t touch any rewatchable list.

But the 2016 Toledo matchup was wild. From record-setting performances on offense to commentators leaving the booth, this game had it all.

Toledo had a great 1-2 punch in their offensive backfield with quarterback Logan Woodside and running back Kareem Hunt. BYU had no slouches either with Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams.

BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki probably tries to erase this game from his memory as Toledo put up 692 yards of offense. The Cougars had 586 yards of offense in this old-fashioned shootout.

It took a Rhett Almond game-winning field goal on the final play of the game for BYU to ultimately hold off the explosive Rockets with a thrilling 55-53 win.

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

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Ten BYU Football Games From Kalani Sitake Era Worth Rewatching