It has been a great 5 years for BYU football under Bronco Mendenhall; BYU has had their share of ups and downs, but after a 6-6 campaign in 2005, Bronco has led the Cougars to two conference titles, four consecutive double digit win seasons, two bowl victories, an upset of the No.3 ranked team in the country, and most importantly, three wins over Utah.
But what five victories were the most important, the most compelling and really stood out?
Two years ago, in Max Hall's first season, he led them to a conference title, with an 8-0 record in the Mountain West. He capped that off with a dramatic win over Utah.
BYU had dominated the game yardage wise, with a 424-244 overall yardage edge. But they settled for Field Goals.
So they had a 9-3 lead in the 4th quarter. Than Utah's offense came alive for one drive, and got a go-ahead TD with 1:34 on the clock.
Most BYU fans still liked their chances to win, until a sack and two incomplete passes later, Max Hall was staring down a 4th and 18 from the BYU 12 yard line, with only 1:15 on the clock. At this point, even the most optimistic fan could only hope for a miracle. And they got one. How did Collie get so open?
After that play, and several Utah pass interference calls, Harvey Unga clinched the victory with a touchdown run.
This was an epic BYU-Utah game, one of the most epic games I've ever watched. Even though the Cougars had already clinched a conference championship, they hadn't beaten the Utes since 2001. After five years of futility, BYU fans were desperate for a victory.
BYU got out to a 14-0 lead; then Utah fought back with 24 unanswered points of their own. It was 24-14 entering the 4th quarter.
Then BYU staged a dramatic comeback of their own, taking a 27-24 lead with three minutes to go.
But Utah remained unflappable, and drove 80 yards in two minutes, and took a 31-27 lead on a Brett Ratliff TD pass.
There was only a minute remaining, and BYU had to drive the length of the field if they wanted to avoid losing to the Utes for the sixth straight year.
Nine plays and 65 yards later, BYU stood at the Utah 11 with three second left. Do or die. All or nothing. And every self-respecting BYU fan knows what happened next: The famous, "Is Harline still open?" play.
I don't know anyone who gave BYU a real chance in this one.
Oklahoma was coming in ranked No. three in the country. They returned Sam Bradford, a Heisman trophy winner, who gave up a chance to be the first pick of the 2009 NFL draft to come back on what all of the experts believed was a national title caliber team at Oklahoma.
They returned 9 starters on defense. Oklahoma was favored by 20 points. Besides Texas, there seemed to be nothing standing in the way of Oklahoma returning to the title game. Then they ran into a determined BYU team.
They were not intimidated one bit. Sam Bradford is likely still having nightmares from the pressure that BYU's defense put on him. BYU's D shut down the heisman trophy winner for a half, and then a clean hit from Coleby Clawson, sidelined Bradford for (basically) the rest of the season.
After a hard fought three quarters, Oklahoma led 13-7.
Then Max Hall capped off a 16 play, eight minute, 84 yard drive with a seven yard touchdown pass to McKay Jacobson that gave BYU a 14-13 lead for good.
Some have postulated that BYU definitely wouldn't have won if Sam Bradford hadn't gotten injured and that BYU's win over an overrated Oklahoma team that finished 7-5 is not that significant.
I argue that had BYU not given Oklahama the physical beating they did, Oklahoma would've finished much better than they did.
I argue that even with a healthy Bradford in the second half, BYU still would have had a good chance to win. Even with their 7-5 finish, Oklahoma went on to outscore the rest of their opponents by an average of 31-13 the rest of the season.
This truly was a game for the ages, the one where Max Hall proved he could win the big one.
It propelled BYU into the national title discussion, and made another massive statement for the Mountain West conference.
It was the first game of any significance played in Cowboys Stadium.
I watched with thousands of other BYU students as BYU shocked Oklahoma, and the world. In Provo, the partying didn't ever really stop, as a mass euphoria came over the college town.