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BYU football: 5 great season openers in BYU history

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Memorable season-opening wins are fun.

Steve Sarkisian BYU

It’s gameday!

Season openers can become some of the most memorable moments for fans. Here are a few times BYU football gave us great memories to start the season to get you hyped for today’s opener against Arizona.

Since I’m lazy and don’t want to rank them, here’s my sampling in chronological order:

1984 — BYU 20, #3 Pitt 14

BYU was coming off a fantastic 11-1 season, which culminated with a pass-catching, foot-loose-dancing Steve Young defeating Missouri in the Holiday Bowl. If not for a bad season-opening loss to Baylor, the Cougars would have run the table in 1983.

But it wasn’t BYU with the hype for the 1984 opener. Pittsburgh finished 1983 ranked #18, going 8-2-1 until a close loss to #14 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Panthers entered 1984 ranked #3.

BYU’s visit to Pitt was the first football game broadcast live on ESPN, and the Cougars cashed in. Robbie Bosco threw for 325 yards in a game that would become the first step to a national championship.

(You can watch the full game here. And we’ll ignore the fact Pitt finished 3-7-1.)

1996 — BYU 41, #13 Texas A&M 37

After a 7-4 campaign, it’s not clear what kind of expectations anyone had for BYU in 1996. But on a hot, Aug. 24 afternoon, BYU opened the eyes of fans and voters in an ABC-broadcasted thriller over ranked Texas A&M.

Steve Sarkisian threw for 536 (!) yards and 6 TDs in the win, setting up another memorable season.

(You can watch the full game here.)

2001 — BYU 70, Tulane 35

It was another hot August afternoon. BYU had its first new head coach in three decades, and people didn’t know what to expect. We’d been told new head coach Gary Crowton was an innovative offensive mind and his BYU teams would score points.

His tenure may not have lived up to hopes and dreams, but in it’s infancy, BYU fans were chanting “Gary! Gary! Gary!” as the team left the field — at halftime. Because BYU posted 49 points before the gun. (I was there and remember it vividly.)

In the first game for what would become one of the best offenses in school history, Brandon Doman threw for 286 yards and 3 TDs; while the trio of Luke Staley (142), Doman (116) and Brian McDonald (110) all hit triple digits in rushing yards. BYU romped to a 70-35 win.

2009 — #20 BYU 14, #3 Oklahoma 13

“We’re gonna win. We’re gonna win.”

Max Hall uttered that simple, now immortalized phrase caught by ESPN’s cameras as BYU exited the field at halftime. It was the first football game in the Dallas Cowboys’ new megapalace, and BYU had touted Oklahoma on the ropes.

In a battle, the 2009 opener really began to open our eyes to exactly what a Bronco Mendenhall defense was. In a crucial moment to open the fourth quarter, BYU held OU to a field goal after the Sooners ran six plays with and-goal to go (a wack pass interference call on 3rd down gave OU a new set of downs, and BYU held again).

BYU would go on to a very successful 11-2 season and finish ranked #12.

(You can watch the full game here.)

2015 — BYU 33, Nebraska 28

It’s recent enough, so you know what happened. BUT, if you want to re-live the experience, just go here and browse through the memories.

(You can watch the full game here.)