clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 5 best individual performances in BYU bowl games

As BYU prepares to face Wyoming in this year's Poinsettia Bowl, these are the performances the Cougars will want to emulate.

These players are legends in BYU history for their incredible performances in the postseason. One performance you could even call miraculous. While quarterbacks have a prominent place on this countdown, two linebackers had such great performances that they etched their names into Cougar history.

Here are the top five performances by BYU players.

Note: Only one player was chosen per bowl game.


No. 5: QB Steve Young, 1983 Holiday Bowl

Not only did Steve Young throw two touchdown passes in this hard-fought game against Missouri, he also caught one.

With 31 seconds left in the game and the Cougars down three, Young handed the ball off to Eddie Stinnett. After drawing Missouri's defense to him, he threw the ball back to Young and he ran 15 yards into the end zone to put BYU up for good.


No. 4: LB Shay Muirbrook, 1997 Cotton Bowl

There were plenty of heroes in BYU's big-time win over Kansas State, but only one has been inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame: linebacker Shay Muirbrook.

The Wildcats could not stop Muirbrook from getting into the backfield time and time again. He would finish the day with six sacks, 11 solo tackles, and he scored the first points of the game with a safety.


No. 3: QB Robbie Bosco, 1984 Holiday Bowl

This wasn't Robbie Bosco's best game during BYU's remarkable run to a national championship, at least statistically. But this game may be his best performance due to what was on the line and what he had to overcome to win this game.

The Cougars needed to win to stay on top of the major polls. BYU's chances looked grim as Bosco had to be helped from the field with an injury in the first quarter, and Blaine Fowler had to come in. While Fowler did complete five of his seven pass attempts, BYU needed Bosco.

So, Bosco came in and played through the pain.

Yes, Bosco threw three picks, but he also tossed a perfect game-winning pass to Kelly Smith. He helped seal BYU's national championship with a win over Michigan.


No. 2: LB Kyle Van Noy, 2012 Poinsettia Bowl

What is it about San Diego and great BYU bowl performances?

Both BYU and the hometown Aztecs struggled to get any scoring done on offense. So LB Kyle Van Noy decided to do what most defenders don't: score two touchdowns in the same game.

Van Noy forced and recovered a fumble in the end zone and returned an interception to the house. He outscored both offenses that day.


No. 1: QB Jim McMahon, 1980 Holiday Bowl

This is the performance that put BYU on the map.

BYU was simply outmatched for most of the game by SMU. Craig James and Eric Dickerson tore up the Cougar defense with 345 yards rushing and five total touchdowns. The Mustangs took a 45-25 lead with a little more than four minutes left in the game. Most folks had already written BYU off.

But Jim McMahon and the Cougars refused to quit.

McMahon threw two of his four touchdown passes of the game in the last 2:35 of the game, including his famous Hail Mary with no time left on the clock that he threw from the BYU 46-yard line. While there were plenty other great individual performances in this game, McMahon won the MVP of what went down in history as the Miracle Bowl.

Maybe one day a BYU player will surpass what McMahon did, but that day has not come yet.