PROVO, Utah – BYU exited the Mountain West Conference in 2010 and transitioned to independent activity. With BYU’s inclusion in the BIG 12 conference, the era of BYU independence will be capped at 12 years.
At this point in the Independence Era, BYU Football stands at 91-51. The team’s best record since independence was an 11-1 2020 season that ended in a Boca Raton Bowl victory. The era of independence will end with over 150 games played. In these games, some iconic matchups stand out from the rest.
The Top 5 Matchups from BYU Football’s Independence Era
5) 2011 BYU @ Ole Miss
Final score: 14-13 Attendance: 55,124
The first game of BYU Football’s Independence Era. This BYU team, led by NFL prospects Kyle Van Noy and Daniel Sorenson, finished its first season outside of the Mountain West Conference 10-3. A relatively low score, with BYU scoring all 14 points in the fourth quarter. That game was made the list due to competitiveness and the fourth-quarter rally hosted by the Cougars. The matchup is also significant as it is the first game and win of the BYU Independence Era.
4) 2015 BYU @ Nebraska
Final score: 33-28 Viewers: 89,959
Mike Riley, the Cornhuskers’ new coach at the time, had his debut spoiled by a last-second Hail Mary touchdown thrown by backup quarterback Tanner Mangum. In that game, Taysom Hill led the Cougars in passing and running before going down with a sprained foot. BYU also ended a 29-year winning streak for the Cornhuskers with this win. Prior to the 2015 season, Nebraska had not lost a season opener since 1985. This game made the list due to the combination of adversity and perseverance.
3) 2013 BYU @ Texas
Final score: 40-21 Viewers: 63,197
Expectations for this duel against Texas were very low after the disappointing season-opening loss in Virginia. Adding to the doubts, Texas was ranked 15th at the time. BYU couldn’t get much of anything going in the passing game, so it was their running game that led to the Longhorns’ blowout. Taysom Hill set a BYU record for 15.2 yards per rush. He had a total of 259 rushing yards and Jamaal Williams added 182. The Cougars had 550 rushing yards to the Longhorns’ 132. This game made the list because BYU fought the odds and did whatever it took to pull out the win.
2) 2020 BYU @ Coastal Carolina
Final score: 17-22 Participants: 5,000
That Coastal Caroline matchup is the only loss on the list, just as it was the only loss of the 2020 season for the Cougars. Matchup number two on this list shouldn’t even happen. Coastal Caroline was scheduled to play the Liberty Flames, but the Flames were forced to withdraw due to complications from the coronavirus pandemic. This game was then thrown together at short notice and later coined under the name “Mormons vs. Mullets”. Both teams went into the game undefeated and placed. Coastal finished 18th. BYU finished in 13th place and was also favored to win the game by 10.5 points. This game made the list for beating expectations while remaining extremely competitive.
1) 2018 BYU @ Wisconsin
Final result: 24-21 Viewers: 80,720
At No. 1 on the list, it is unranked BYU, beating No. 6 Wisconsin on its home field. Wisconsin had more yards, first downs and possession time overall in this game. The game with the longest scoring of the game came in the second quarter on a trick play by BYU. Wide receiver Aleva Hifo threw a 31-yard touchdown to tight end Moroni Laulu Pututau. At the start of the game, Wisconsin had a 93.7% winning percentage. A last-minute missed field goal by Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone kept that game from going into overtime. This game made the list because who doesn’t like an underdog story? A shocking 80,000 fans must be feeling pretty good too.
KSL Sports BYU insider Mitch Harper went over this top 5 segment with Cougar Sports’ Matthew Baiamonte and Dallen Graff on Saturday.
Mitch Harper is a BYU insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE TO) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday 12pm-3pm) on KSL NewsRadio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.