Counting Down: Best Road Wins in BYU Football History

Nov 12, 2020, 11:31 AM

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Brigham Young University's Jonny Harline celebrates his last minute touchdown catch leading his team to a 33-31 win over the University of Utah in football at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake, Utah Saturday Nov. 25, 2006. (August Miller/ Deseret News)

(August Miller/ Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Last Friday night the BYU Cougars accomplished something no other BYU team has been able to do: beat the Boise State Broncos on the blue turf.

Quarterback Zach Wilson led the team to a 51-17 victory against the 21st ranked team in the country. BYU’s dominant win in 2020 stands out among many tough losses to the Broncos.

There had been some close calls, including a loss two years ago that left freshman Zach Wilson two-yards short of an upset. A blocked field goal kept Taysom Hill and the Cougars from beating a then No. 14 ranked Broncos team in 2016. 2020 has been a different year for BYU and this team is starting to resemble some of the school’s best. The Cougars were 0-5 in Boise before last week’s match-up. Kalani Sitake in his fifth season as head coach has this team rolling and dominating opponents week after week.

This past week’s win will without a doubt be viewed as one of the best road wins in BYU history. The Cougars are no strangers to signature wins on the road, here are some of the best road wins in BYU history, as heard on the “Top 5” segment on Cougar Sports Saturday (KSL Newsradio, Noon-3pm).

Best Road Wins in BYU Football History

BYU 24 No. 6 Wisconsin 21 (2018)

In Kalani Sitake’s biggest upset win of his tenure, BYU beat Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on the backs of a stellar defense and solid run game.

Sione Takitaki, who had a game-high twelve tackles, flew around the field that day in what became a signature game for the senior on his way to the NFL. Squally Canada ran the ball strong, showing his talent against Wisconsin’s future NFL running back Jonathan Taylor.

BYU played a clean game, held the Badgers to 4-13 on 3rd down and after icing the kicker with back-to-back timeouts (one of my all-time favorite Kalani moments), won the game when Rafael Gaglianone missed a 42-yard field goal with 36 seconds left.

BYU 31 No. 17 TCU 17 (2006)

John Beck and the BYU Cougars snapped TCU’s 13-game winning streak with a 31-17 victory in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs had the nation’s longest winning streak snapped at home while the Cougars earned their first win over a ranked opponent in seven years.

Beck threw three touchdowns in the second half in one of the best games for the senior quarterback. BYU’s defense forced two turnovers and was led by linebacker Cameron Jensen, who had 13 tackles and an interception.

No. 21 BYU 33 Utah 31 (2006)

The Cougars responded to their upset of TCU by winning eight-straight games, including a last-second victory over rival Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

John Beck was again brilliant, throwing for 375  yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass to Jonny Harline with no time remaining. Harline had a huge game, racking up seven receptions for 118 yards and three touchdowns.

It was a shootout between the Utes and the Cougars, but BYU prevailed with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback. Although this wasn’t a win against a ranked opponent, beating your rival in miraculous fashion on the road is significant, especially considering the Cougars hadn’t been the Utes since 2001.

BYU 21 No. 17 Notre Dame 14 (1994)

BYU upset the No. 17 ranked Fighting Irish 21-14 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. The loss knocked the Irish out of the Top 25 rankings for the first time in eight years.

Senior quarterback John Walsh led a balanced attack for the Cougars while running back Jamal Willis compiled 159 yards and two touchdowns as a weapon in the run game and the passing attack. BYU’s defense had four sacks, seven tackles for loss and had some help as Notre Dame missed three field goals in the game.

Current BYU coaches Ed Lamb and Kalani Sitake were on that 1994 roster; perhaps Kalani’s ability to win over ranked opponents stems from his playing days under LaVell Edwards.

BYU 20 No. 3 Pitt 14 (1984)

The opening game of a magical season, BYU started off their 1984 season with a signature road victory. The Cougars upset the No. 3 ranked Pittsburgh Panthers 20-14 at Pitt Stadium.

Junior quarterback Robbie Bosco led BYU to a win with 325 passing yards and one touchdown. Adam Hayspert caught nine passes for 141 yards and the lone passing touchdown to lead the Cougars. Defensively, BYU allowed just one touchdown and had two interceptions, with Pitt averaging just 4.1 yards per play. That win catapulted the Cougars from unranked to No. 13 in the country. BYU went on to finish the season ranked at #1 with a national championship.

BYU’s 51-17 win over No. 21 Boise State will surely end up on the list of greatest road wins and deservedly so. Perhaps there has never been a more important road victory than this past week’s game against the Broncos. A loss would have derailed what has been a magical season for the Cougars and would have dashed any hopes of a New Year’s Six bowl game or College Football Playoff appearance.

However, BYU took care of business and now finds itself on the precipice of a truly special season; one we haven’t seen since 1996 or even 1984. Not many BYU teams have found themselves in the position that this year’s team is at: ranked in the Top 10, undefeated with two games remaining and potentially having a shot to play for a National Championship.

Listen to the entire segment from Cougar Sports Saturday discussing BYU’s win over Boise State and the best road wins in BYU history.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

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Counting Down: Best Road Wins in BYU Football History