How the 1984 BYU football team became the National Champions is a great story of the underdog. Although the Cougars were coming off 11 straight victories from the previous season, they started out the '84 season unranked. The Cougars had lost Steve Young and other key players from '83, and Robbie Bosco was starting at quarterback for the first time. The Cougars became National Champions by the skin of their teeth, multiple times. To open the season, the Cougars played in the first ESPN televised game at, then ranked, #3 Pittsburg. Although the Cougars weren't given a chance to win that game, they walked away with a 20-14 victory. At Hawaii the Cougars needed a goal line stand. Defensive back Kyle Morrell hurtled both lines to sack Rainbow quarterback Raphel Cherry on third down and forced a field goal. BYU won that game 18-13. After a 24-14 victory over the University of Utah, BYU was ranked #1 in the country.
Because Washington wanted to play in a bigger bowl game, they turned down the chance to play BYU in the Holiday Bowl and lost their chance to become National Champions. 6-5 Michigan played the Cougars instead. Things didn't look good when, in the second quarter, Bosco left the game with an ankle injury. The indomitable Bosco came back to the game in the second half, in arguably the gutsiest performance in BYU history, and orchestrated two touchdown series in the fourth quarter to win the game 24-17.