BYU Football: 10 Best Wins During Independence Era

Jun 16, 2020, 7:00 AM
Head coach Kalani Sitake of the BYU Cougars celebrates with Sione Takitaki #16 after the game again...
Head coach Kalani Sitake of the BYU Cougars celebrates with Sione Takitaki #16 after the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. BYU won 24-21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – Ten years have passed since the summer of 2010 when BYU football declared its football independence.

The Cougars have had a mixed bag of results as an independent. But one thing that we’ve learned the past decade is that BYU has not lacked for pulling off big wins.

With more opportunities than ever before against Power 5 competition and the best the Group of 5 has to offer, BYU football has pulled off some of the best victories in program history during their time as a football independent. 

Which ones have been the best? Let’s take a trip down memory lane and rank out the 10 best wins during BYU football’s run as an independent program.

10. 2019: BYU 28, Boise State 25

With Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall both out due to injuries, redshirt freshman Baylor Romney earned his first start as a BYU quarterback. Romney was efficient throwing for 221 yards and completing 62 percent of his passes.

BYU gave Boise State a dose of their own medicine in the win with a pair of trick plays or as BYU coaches call them “specials” which helped lift the Cougars to the upset win.

9. 2013: BYU 47, Houston 46

A thrilling offensive performance that highlighted the talents of quarterback Taysom Hill. This was one of Hill’s best games at BYU as he threw for 417 yards and ran for 128.

8. 2011: BYU 14, Ole Miss 13

The first game of Independence highlighted the novelty of potential matchups for BYU football as they traveled to SEC Country to face Ole Miss in The Grove. Thanks to a defensive TD from Kyle Van Noy, BYU escaped Oxford with a one-point win to kick off the Independence era in front of over 10,000 BYU fans who attended the game.

7. 2016: BYU 55, Toledo 53

A high-scoring game that offensive fireworks galore and made defensive coordinators never want to watch the film again. The star power was top notch too with Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams in BYU’s backfield. For Toledo, it was Kareem Hunt and Logan Woodside and the game came down to the wire.

6. 2019: BYU 29, Tennessee 26 (2OT)

Tennessee football is one of the winningest programs in college football history. It was BYU’s first game ever against the Vols and it ended in epic fashion with Zach Wilson finding a wide open Micah Simon to set up a Jake Oldroyd field goal to send the game into overtime.

Then running back Ty’Son Williams took over and gave BYU a win in front of one of the biggest crowds to witness a BYU football game.

5. 2019: BYU 30, USC 27 (OT)

One week after taking down the Vols, BYU pulled off another upset. This time against a nationally-ranked USC team that was riding high after opening the season 2-0. BYU found a way to force USC’s “Air Raid” offense to run the football and it played right into the Cougars game plan defensively. Cornerback Dayan Ghanwoloku then came away with the game-winning touchdown to seal the victory in the extra session.

4. 2013: BYU 40, Texas 21

Nobody saw BYU taking down a nationally-ranked Texas team in Provo one week after losing ACC bottomfeeder, Virginia. But the Cougars did it and they did it in shocking fashion. BYU put up 550 rushing yards with 259 coming from Taysom Hill in a dominating win over Texas. The win for BYU ultimately sent former Texas head coach Mack Brown on the path to an earlier retirement than maybe he had hoped.

3. 2014: BYU 41, Texas 7

For the second consecutive BYU not only beat Texas, but they crushed the Longhorns. Taysom Hill was spectacular again and he had the nation buzzing about BYU potentially running the table that season. Hill’s leap over Texas defenders is one of those iconic moments that will forever live in BYU lore.

2. 2015: BYU 33, Nebraska 28

The “Miracle at Memorial” had a little bit of everything for BYU. Playing in a historic venue, overcoming adversity, incredible finish. Tanner Mangum stepped into his final throw of the game just three months after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and tossed it into the wind to connect with Mitch Mathews for a game-winning touchdown on the final play of the game. 

1. 2018: BYU 24, Wisconsin 21

One year after losing to Wisconsin by a score of 40-6 in Provo, BYU shocked the college football world defeating a Wisconsin team that had their sights set on being in the College Football Playoff. The Badgers, ranked No. 6, were the highest-ranked team BYU defeated on the road since their historic victory over No. 3 Pitt in 1984.

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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